Hunger Games Baby Names: Another Path To the Future

Mar 15th 2012

Next week's big movie release, The Hunger Games, looks like the richest name franchise of the year. That's not to say it will be a baby name trend-setter -- I don't expect a generation of boys named Peeta and Cinna. What The Hunger Games offers is treasure trove of what I'll call "speculative naming": naming the fictional future so that it sounds futuristic, while still sending meaningful name signals that connect with audiences in the present.

A few years back I wrote about various naming approaches writers have used to suggest future worlds. These included inventing new names; giving familiar names a twist; turning word categories into names; and reviving name styles of the past. Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins used most of them, and added a few other wrinkles besides. ( has a nice wrapup of the Hunger Games name highlights.)

Where the series particularly excels is in using different futuristic name styles to define different segments of society. The Capitol, for instance, is a wealthy, decadent metropolis, and the Hunger Games is its gladiatorial spectacle. Names of that future culture suitably hearken back to the Roman Empire: Caesar, Plutarch, Flavius, Portia, Octavia. In a subtle bit of namecraft, some, but not all, names from privileged districts courting the Capitol's favor copy this style with choices like Brutus and Cato.

Two other name groupings I particularly like take current, familiar styles and push them to new extremes. Start with today's sleek, confident meaning names like Eden, Miracle and Chance and dial them up to 11. You might end up with the supremely self-assured "District 1" names Glimmer, Marvel and Gloss. At the humbler end, botanical names like Lily, Violet and Ivy are a classic style for girls. The "humbler" districts of the Hunger Games world push those comfy botanicals into unfamiliar territory like Katniss, Primrose and Rue. (One male character even bears the ultimate in humble botanical names: Chaff.)

I like to imagine what the "extreme" versions of other name styles might look like. Western names Rawhide and Spur? Exotic old saints' names Simplicius and Villanus? It's all a great reminder that our potential naming futures are almost as wide-open as the future itself.



March 15, 2012 12:19 PM

And it was funny in the book when Katniss rolls her eyes at "the names they give their children in the other districts."

By Mariel Joan (not verified)
March 15, 2012 12:36 PM

I read in the news this week about a family in Tennesse named Bates who have 19 children whose names are:
Kelly and Gil (mom and dad)
Michaella (pronounced like Michael with an a at the end)
Addalee Rose
Ellie Bridget
Callie Anna
Judson Wyatt
Jeb Colton

I would have thought that Kelly, Ellie, Callie and Katie were way too close to all have in the same family.

March 15, 2012 3:10 PM

I'll have to think about the Hunger Games names. I hadn't read the books though it all looks very interesting. In other news, have you all heard what Jessica Simpson is reportedly naming her baby GIRL? The name is Maxwell but the will call her Maxi. EWWW!! First of all Maxwell is a boys name, Maxine is the girl version. Secondly, Maxi sounds like a feminine product. I get the thinking but I don't care for the end result.

March 15, 2012 3:25 PM

Just looked up some plant things, some of these might make interesting names. I think I'll stay away from the generic Angiosperm though :P


March 15, 2012 4:38 PM

Thanks everyone for your opinions in the last thread. Sorry I'm being cryptic about our last name, I'm just weird about revealing too much online.
You all hit a lot of the points we have been considering. It's kind of odd that almost all the names my husband and I agree on end in N. I guess that's the one style we have in common. My husband will be happy about all the support for Gideon since that seems to be his favorite on our list.
I'll be sure to check back in and let you know what we decide once we meet the little guy!

By mk
March 15, 2012 4:46 PM

The actress Lindsay Sloane just gave her daughter the name Maxwell two months ago, so it just looks like she took the idea from her (even if she didn't.)

I really dislike the name Katniss, but I do find the author's name choices and how she uses them very interesting.

March 15, 2012 8:26 PM

Katniss sounds too much like catnip to me. NMS.

How about a fabric theme?
Corduroy nn Cord or Roy
Gabardine nn Gabby

March 16, 2012 7:19 AM

Velvet, nylon, cotton (or Cottyn for the creative)

Or how about Gauze?

By I don't know my name (not verified)
March 16, 2012 10:57 AM

How about emphasizing different vowels and consonants than today?

Ex: Arlu if boy, Arlue if girl. Eltweed.

By PunkPrincessPhd NLI (not verified)
March 16, 2012 11:18 AM

Well, for inspiration, there's the "Name Generator" at

Mine: Caraway Nibblehatch, District 9 tribute, killed by "Romantic Drama".

Don't hate me, but I *almost* like Caraway. It has all the makings of a popular name, especially with the feminine "Cara" sound.

Now, if only I could disentangle myself from romantic drama...

March 16, 2012 11:40 AM

PPP-Thanks for that link. Fun. The best name ever for a fictional character has got to be the one that got generated for me after about 5 tries.
Donkey Dundermifflin who was killed by decapitation. No doubt from getting too close to one of those old choppy paper cutting machines. If only I wouldn't have been so into antiques. ROFL! (Mystery novels are more my style)

By hyz nli (not verified)
March 16, 2012 12:02 PM

I got a few good Hunger Names, including Geranium Rathbone (drowned in own vomit) and Moss Abalone (did not wake up before hitting the ground). And then there was Regret Bigentall (killed by trying to freeze a moment right now and live in it forever). So, until now, I have remained blissfully unaware (mostly) of the Hunger Games, but now I have the urge to see what it's all about.

By PunkPrincessPhd NLI (not verified)
March 16, 2012 12:02 PM

zoerhenne: love it! And surprising how close some of the generated names are to the intended style. Not far off.

So, how's this for my HG fan fic: Dill Mifferdeen :)

By hyz nli (not verified)
March 16, 2012 12:09 PM

Oh my goodness, I love these names and stories. If I were making one, it might be Fenugreek Picklevine. Or Ranunculus Brambleberry. Or Hydrangea Thistleswitch. Yes, definitely Hydrangea Thistleswitch. :)

March 16, 2012 12:14 PM

Mine is apparently Comfrey Rabbledeen. Apparently I shouldn't have drank the wine. Fun, though some of the last names are a just wrong (Babyshaker in particular).

As for names for futuristic-y babies (books or otherwise): Homilly, Iola, Ammon.

In a post-apocalyptic world word names (Brace, Favor), plant names (Alyssum, Correa), occupational names (Welder, Auger) and virtue-like names with a cheerful (Comfort, Solace) or less cheerful (Dare, Vanity) bent seem like categories that would survive, just maybe get "stranger."

By PunkPrincessPhd NLI (not verified)
March 16, 2012 12:16 PM

hyz: love Hydrangea!

The nature names seem to appeal to me more, perhaps because they're somewhat more grounded (no pun intended) than the more ostentatious Glimmer, Shimmer, Sparkle, etc. What I really love is the way Collins incorporated class and regional politics into the naming styles, which is something we discuss a lot here. So, my District 1 name would have to be:

Diamond Smittick.

By Guest78 (not verified)
March 16, 2012 12:58 PM

Hi, Baby Name Wizards! I need a little baby name advice. We're due with a baby girl this summer, and we lean toward classic, not-too-common names, especially Scandinavian/Germanic names. Our current favorites: Matilda Lucy or Cora Lucy. (Lucy is a family name). My husband also really likes Solveig, but I'm not quite as sold on that one - it seems like we'd be setting up the girl for a lifetime of mispronunciation. Other contenders are Clara, Ingrid, and Annika.

I'm also not sure if Matilda, Cora, and Clara will end up being the Isabella/Sophia of the world in 10 years, which we'd prefer to avoid. Where's that crystal ball when you need it?

I'd love to hear your thoughts and suggestions. Thanks!

By hyz nli (not verified)
March 16, 2012 1:11 PM

Sebalek--I met a young Ammon at our neighborhood playground the other day! Hope that doesn't mean the apocalypse is near! ;)

PPPhd--thanks! I've always sort of wished that Hydrangea was a prettier word to use as a name, since I love the flower, but it seems perfect in this context. Love Smittick. :) I'm thinking my District 1 choices would be something like Badge Hornswoggle, or Win Pickwick, or Keen Bugbear, or Woodruff Brickbat, or maybe Avid Moneypenny? I have no idea if I'm on course or not, but it's fun anyway!

By hyz nli (not verified)
March 16, 2012 1:29 PM

Ok, I have a real problem now--I'm trying to concentrate on other things and all I can think of are these silly names. Here are a few more to get them out of my system:

Crop Stonebarrow
Frill Honeymeade
Fig Pearbottom
Pennyroyal Banewort
Chamomile Mudger
Calamity Stump
Fenwick Funk


March 16, 2012 2:43 PM

I wouldn't be surprised if the romanticization of paper and ink (stemming from technology such as e-books and online calendars) led to some names like Papyrus, Papier (pronounced the French way, however that would be,) Plume, or Quill.

By Angela Dawn (not verified)
March 16, 2012 3:44 PM

I've heard of Primrose being considered on a real baby recently. I've also heard of parents considering Magnolia, which doesn't seem as weird to me as it did a couple of years ago. At least Magnolia can be shortened in a few ways: Maggie, Nola, Nolia. Maybe in a few decades Magnolia will be a new classic.

I must say, after hearing about two actresses naming their girls Maxwell, I hope that doesn't become a trend. Personally, I try to be open-minded, but I feel Maxwell on a girl is hideous! And Maxi - really? Is that a joke?

March 16, 2012 3:54 PM

Omg, love all the names. hyz, as personal names I think I'd have to go with the food/spice category. Things like Appolonia Flakytart or Synnamin Brownbottom sound much more me. The one above was one that the generator site picked and it the story was just funny.

Guest78-I don't dislike any of the names you've listed. Depending on your surname I think some thing like Matilda Lucille flows better than Matilda Lucy. Clara Ingrid is also a nice combo. Really any of them could work together except 2 A endings.

March 16, 2012 5:53 PM

Guest 78

I really like a lot of your names. Matilda, Ingrid, Solveig, Annika, and Clara. Clara is one of my favorites. Also, what about Saskia? To my ear, Lucy sounds a little awkward in the middle name spot - somehow too informal with the other names. What about Lucinda as an alternative?

It's hard to know the combos that will be best without knowing the length and rhythm of the last name, though.

I personally think Clara Lucinda is beautiful...or Ingrid Lucinda.

I don't know that Solveig would really pose too many pronunciation challenges. Isn't it basically SOL-vig, or am I wrong?

Maxi for a girl does sound horrifying.

Not a fan of Katniss as a name, either. I don't know what that character is like, but she sounds like a back-stabber to me.

On another topic, I got DH to tentatively agree that Simon Xavier might be a good solution if it is a boy, because he could still go by Xavier if he wants to. Of course, DH might have just been wanting to shut me up. He STILL isn't excited about talking about baby names. Maybe once the baby's here...?

March 16, 2012 7:59 PM

Hyz, it's clear that you need more chickens! Read The Hunger Games--they're quite engaging and the names are really great.

PennyX, my husband was never excited about talking about baby names, and his lack of excitement got more pronounced with each child (we have three). With our third he told me that the only names he liked were our son's name and the names of my three brothers, none of which I was willing to use (my son was also lobbying hard for his own name: Peter II!). But I can guarantee one thing: WE will NEVER get tired of reading about your naming journey! :),

PPPhD--Good to hear from you.

Back to the Hunger Games: Here's a name for the Capitol: Gauzius Drapmeon

March 16, 2012 8:34 PM

Elizabeth T - Thanks! ;)

March 16, 2012 9:20 PM

Glimmer's district makes luxury goods and they gave her a name that was highly valued there. Items that glimmer.

Katniss was named after an edible plant that her father found hunting, so a highly valued name in that society.

I thought the names reflected nicely on the values of the districts.

By Jane 7 (used to be Jane 6) (not verified)
March 16, 2012 9:53 PM

Guest 78: There is a little Solveig in my son's kindergarden class and oh, my goodness, I have FALLEN IN LOVE with the name. I'm sure it helps that the little girl is cute, sweet, and creative... but really the name itself is just ravishing. Interestingly, none of the kindergardeners blinked at her name (except that she was one of the few in the class to have the distinction - much envied - of having a silent letter in her name). I'm sure as she gets older, there will be pronunciation issues, but you need to remember that your child will be part of a generation of kids with kre8tively spelled names, many of which don't follow standard pronunciation rules. Many of them will have to spell their names and/or correct people's pronunciation. It will be more normal than when we were growing up. Oh, consider Solveig!

By Jane 7 (used to be Jane 6) (not verified)
March 16, 2012 9:55 PM

*kindergarten and kindergarteners... seriously, I wrote it wrong twice! I do know how to spell, promise.

By Amy3
March 17, 2012 8:37 AM

This post is so fun and you've come up with great HG names. My daughter and I are midway through the third book now.

@hyz, I agree, you need more chickens to name!

@Jane 7, from the last thread, I'm a fan of both Albert and Walter (we would have used Walter for a middle had we had a boy), but if you used one of them as a first, I'd select a more current or classic middle so he has another option. I know you weren't wild about Thomas, but I think Thomas Walter sounds great and complements the other kids' names.

@kakicloud, I really like Simon Archer for you. That's a fantastic name.

@Guest78, Solveig is one of my absolute favorites. If you love it, I wouldn't let the pronunciation stop you (PennyX, it's sol- vay).

March 17, 2012 3:01 PM

Solveig reminds me of Soleil. I think Soleil is nicer. Do they come from the same origin?

March 18, 2012 11:44 AM

Zoerhenne, in a roundabout way they do. Soleil is simply the French word for 'sun.' The Sol- in Solveig is derived from a Norse(Scandinavian) word for 'sun.'

By Anna S (not verified)
March 18, 2012 5:00 PM

@Zoerhenne, @Miriam

It's a little complicated... There are two ancient Germanic words involved in this:

Sol* meaning sun, and;
Sal* meaning big room and/or one-room-house.

(Various inflected endings, hence the asterisk).

The short story is that Sol in Solveig originate from Sal*.

The long and complicated story is that the (originally Germanic) name element Sal* at some point evolved into Sol in Old Norse.

As a word, outside of names, sal* lost its first meaning, one-room-house, and came to mean just (big) room. (Wild guess; multiple-room-houses became the norm - new word needed; hus).

At the same time there was the Old Norse word for sun, sol, cognate with the Germanic sol*, which did not evolve.

What all of this meant for the name Solveig and other Sol-something names was that the Sal*-turned-Sol-meaning-house name element became indistinguisable from the sol-meaning-sun word. Hence, over time the original meaning of Solveig, was displaced by the new interpretation, sun.

So yes, Solveig and Soleil are kinda, sorta, not really, and a little bit related.

For the sake of completion, the second half of Solveig means power/strength/fighter. This is unrelated to Soleil which merely retains an inflected ending from Sol* that got cut off in Old Norse.

March 18, 2012 6:11 PM

Thanks Miriam and Anna. That was very informative. Also, thanks Anna for including the second half info which would, of course, have been my next question.

By EVie
March 18, 2012 6:16 PM

Anna S - that's really interesting—I didn't know that the Sol- in Solveig meant sun, too. To quibble just a bit, though, I think that the French soleil is derived from the Latin sol, not the Germanic or Old Norse (though they are cognates that both derive from the same Indo-European word). It comes via the Vulgar Latin form *soliculus, which means "little sun" (

March 18, 2012 7:11 PM

I really like Solveig and it would be on my list except I know an adult Solveig who is not a really nice person so it has coloured the name for me, unfortunately. If you didn't have that association though it would be great. For the record, she pronounces it SOL-vee.

@guest 78, I'm a fan of all your names. I'm in Australia and Matilda and Lucy are very popular here and Clara and Ingrid aren't exactly unheard of. I haven't come across many Cora's yet. Where you are they might be less popular but I think other than Solveig they will all be at least familiar to most people. Probably not Sophia or Isabella popular but it's hard to predict.

@PennyX - don't worry we didn't discuss names at all until I was 37 weeks. My husband really didn't feel the need. You have some good options so try not to stress too much. I'm sure he will be much keener once there is a real live baby to name!

By Anna S (not verified)
March 18, 2012 7:31 PM


You are correct that the French soleil has come to be via Latin, which in turn shares a proto-Indo-European root (sóhwl) with the word that eventually became sol in Old Norse via ancient Germanic (sōwul). They are cognate, though, but I admit I left out a "step" in the evolution for the sake of simplicity. (Really, I'm glad my post sort-of made sense; Solveig is a complicated name!)

I also used Wiktionary for my "reserach" - it has become a really helpful tool in the past few years. One thing I haven't yet figured out is what happened to the sal-word meaning room, after house/Haus/hus sort-of replaced it. Was it completely abandoned and then much later re-adopted from the French salle, or did it go directly to meaning big room... This is not related to the name Solveig at all, but just something that sparked my interest.

Also, as for Solveig and the sun/house meaning, I think in some ways it's similar to a name like Rosamund which contains Rosa even though it's derived from something completely different. A non-name-nerd may very well see this name and think its meaning is something with roses, just like I'm sure a lot of people (in Scandinavia) believes Solveig is a sun-something name. (Which is it, kinda-sorta).

On an overall note, I find these meanings-evolutions really interesting. If you know of some name similar to Solveig with a shifting meaning, please share!

By Anna S (not verified)
March 18, 2012 7:57 PM


Solveig in Scandinavian is /SOL-vay/ where -vay rhymes with eye/hay/hi depending on dialect. /Sol/ is kinda like the first part of solution with a bit more 'l', if that makes sense.

I think it's a pretty name - even though I know the origin of Sol is not technically sun, I always hear "sun", and the second part veig is pronounced like a word that means road in Scandinavian - vei/vej. (Related to the English way and the German weg). So it sounds like road-of-the-sun, and I like that meaning.

Right now, Solveig is a a bit dated though, (locally), but I could see it have a revival in the next 10-20-30 years.

March 18, 2012 8:58 PM

Oh, I guess I didn't know at all how Solveig is pronounced. I still think it's a stunning name.

By Jill
March 18, 2012 10:29 PM

Oh! Jane 7, we have an almost-2yo Albert. I was sort of "meh" about the name at first (it's DH's grandfather's name), but I have to say it's grown on me. I occasionally call him Bertie (which others hear as Birdy if they don't know his name is Albert), or, if I'm feeling Harry Potter-y, Albus Dumbledore or Bertie Botts. Mostly, though, he just goes by Albert.

And @Blythe, I hadn't seen the Albie books either! My Albie definitely needs them!

In related news, we are unexpectedly expecting #4 in the fall. Our current baby name list is feeling sort of tired, so I better come back here to get some fresh inspiration. Unless you all have some ideas for convincing DH that Florence is a great name (assuming it's a girl)?

March 18, 2012 11:09 PM

As for botanical names, perhaps Aloe, Rhododendron, Crabgrass, Sod, or Marigold?
"District 1" names could be Brooch, Silver, Magnificent, or Opal.
and as for Capitol names: Cincinnatus, Maxima, Livius, Tiberius, and Calpurnia.

March 18, 2012 11:29 PM

More botanical names...

March 19, 2012 12:05 AM

Jill-I'm not a real fan of Florence but now thanks to Anna S I think Solveig is a great name if you have any Scandinavian connections ;)

Also, I feel the need to list a few more -ance/ence names for you:
Constance, Temperance, Chance, Nancy, Vance
Do any of those hit the mark? What are your other children's names if you care to share?

March 19, 2012 1:53 AM

I love how I'm not the only one here who geeks out to name AND word etymologies!

By EVie
March 19, 2012 2:04 AM

Anna S - I also find these philological discussions fascinating. I think your comparison of Solveig and Rosamund is very apt. Rosalind underwent a similar treatment in its Spanish form, Rosalinda, as linda means "pretty" (so, "pretty rose" in the faux-Latin derivation, though the name is actually of Germanic origin—summed up well here:

I looked up French salle on Wiktionary, and it looks like it came via Frankish *sal, which has the same "house" meaning as in Swedish/Norwegian (Frankish, for those who might not know, is an extinct Germanic language that is related to Dutch; Frankish and Vulgar Latin together are the main ingredients of Old French). So French salle underwent the same transition from "house" -> "room." The English word hall (from Old English heall) underwent a similar transformation. It originally referred to a building where a tribal chief and his people congregated, then later came to refer to a specific room in a medieval manor house (among other things). So, in short, I don't think Swedish/Norwegian sal* ever dropped out of the language completely, only shifted meanings (probably as a response to social changes that were occurring through medieval European society).

Sorry for the non-name digression, I just can't resist etymologies—they're my second love after names.

March 19, 2012 4:30 AM

@Anna S - I actually thought the 'correct' pronunciation of Solveig was more like SOL-vay. I'm not sure why the Solveig I know pronounces it Sol-vee. It could just be an accent thing or how she likes it!

Interesting history of the name, thanks for sharing!

By Amy3
March 19, 2012 10:19 AM

Ooh, loved the etymology discussion. I think a lot of us are as interested in word origins and evolution as we are in names.

By Anna S (not verified)
March 19, 2012 11:25 AM

To clarify; the Solveig pronunciation without a hard g is the most common in Scandinavia aka Norway/Sweden/Denmark. But in Icelandic Sólveig ends with an audible g, and the same is true for some regions/dialects in Scandinavia; e.g. in the Danish/German border region where the pronunciation of consonants in general is a little harder/stronger (German influence).

By Essy01 nli (not verified)
March 19, 2012 11:43 AM

zoerhenne - actually Catnip is Katniss' nickname in the books - so good catch!

I like the pun on Peeta's name. I originally just saw it as some futuristic version of Peter but once I actually read the books I realized while it probably is supposed to make us think that it's a futuristic version of Peter (like Haymitch from Hamish), it's actually a pun on the fact that his family are bakers, and his name is essentially Pita. I thought it was pretty clever of Collins.

I like the comment made by gray00 - the names don't just create a style - some of them say a lot more about each district, what they value, and what their industry is. Names are very important in The Hunger Games but not all the names from each district are the same so even within districts there are distinctions - for example even Katniss and Peeta - Katniss is an actual plant while Peeta/Pita is a created product from plants, showing the difference between class within the districts. However, Gale's two brothers are named Rory and Vick, which aren't nature related (to my knowledge) and are actually names we'd find on people we know in real life today. While his sister is named Posy and his mother Hazelle which goes back to nature. So Gale seems to be the odd one out which I've always thought was weird, except that Gale is so aligned with nature in the novels - but how would his mother of known that when he was born? So while I think there are overarching themes to the division of names between the districts and The Capitol - it's either a bit more complex in Collins' mind or rules are broken to fit characters. We just don't get a large enough sample of the other districts to really know the extent of their naming practices though - for example, while Cato is from a district that tries to emulate The Capitol (and it's naming style) his fellow district tribute is named Clove, more of a nature name than a Roman name to me.

One of my favourite names from the books however is Finnick Odair. His district is strongly related to water and fishing - but the only other two I can recall from his district are named Mags and Annie.

I love Laura's post, the names really do seem like our naming styles dialed up to the extreme.

March 19, 2012 3:30 PM

Hearing about Gale in the Hunger Games makes me think about how the book The Wizard of OZ used Gale as Dorothy's surname. The others also have very cleverly foreshadowed names. However, looking on Wikipedia they don't quite match up individually. In case you forgot the names of the people:
Zeke-ends up being the lion
Hunk-ends up being the scarecrow
Hickory-ends up being the tin man
Theres is Aunt Em and Uncle Henry, perfectly normal names for that era. Almira Gulch was the lady who hated Dorothy's dog and later turned into the bad witch. Professor Marvel of course later become the Great OZ.

I think the duality of the way the names Almira and Glinda sound is clever as well. Although Almira is a perfectly acceptable name. It has that R in it that is a much rougher sound than Glinda which seems a bit more sparkly and such. As far as the above characters, I think Zeke should've been the scarecrow, Hunk the lion, and Hickory the tin man. But maybe Baum meant them to be off on purpose.

By Jill
March 19, 2012 5:23 PM

You all have taught me so much about philology and etymology. If it weren't for you, I never would have known that the name "meanings" in many baby name books are total crap.

If I don't get to name this baby Florence, I will definitely need your help! My other children are:
Oliver Rand0lph
Mamie K4therine Elise
Albert B0az

Both Oliver and Albert are named after grandfathers. Mamie Katherine's name was inspired by my sisters Amy and Kathryn. We'll likely use a family name in either the first or middle spot.