Origins and Meanings of FF Names
Many Final Fantasy character names come from world mythology. Other names come from Greek and Latin, Japanese or Sanskrit.
As an ex classics major and recent mythology major, it always gives me a kick when I recognize a name from mythology or some dead language. At times the names don't make that much sense: the game designers sometimes borrow a mythological name without borrowing the myth it comes from. Other times, these classic names add an extra layer of meaning to the story.
So on this page I'd like to share with you my investigations of the etymology (origins and meanings) of Final Fantasy character names, with additional pages on the names of summons, monsters, weapons, places and more. I can't be sure Square-Enix picked all these names on purpose -- when you invent a fantasy name, there's always a chance it means something somewhere -- but it's still fun to find out what they mean!
Names of Final Fantasy Characters
Squall, Cloud, Lightning, Drizzle, Thundersnow...
Adelbert Steiner (Final Fantasy IX) What a perfect name for the character. There's a lot of German in FFIX. Adel = "noble" in Germanic, -bert = "bright", so we've got "nobly bright", somewhat contradicted by Zidane's nickname for him, Rusty. Steiner is from stein, stone (English "stein" is from stoneware). So this guy is solid as a rock.
Aeris/th (Final Fantasy VII) presents us with the same contradiction as Celes (see below): at first glance, her name appears to be from Greek aer, "air, sky," but in fact her Japanese name is a transliteration of English Earth, very suitable for an earth goddess in disguise. (Some have also associated Aeris with Greek Eris, goddess of Strife, but that's not what Square says, and anyway I don't think they'd add an A.)
Amarant (Final Fantasy IX): I'm guessing it's from amaranth, a reddish dye or the plant it comes from. It means "everlasting," a mythical flower that was supposed to grow on Mt. Olympos, but I'm guessing the color is what's pertinent.
Auron (Final Fantasy X): It makes me think of Latin aurum "gold" with a Greek -on ending.
Cait Sith (Final Fantasy VII) derives from Celtic mythology: Cait Sidhe, "Fairy Cat," is described as a ""Large black cat with a white spot on its breast". (I've seen Cait Sith's name mistranslated as "fat cat" but this is clearly wrong; "Sidhe" is the Celtic word for faerie.) Here's the wildcat behind the myth, the "Kellas cat" of the Scottish Highlands.
Celes (Final Fantasy VI) appears to derive her name from the Latin word c(a)eles, "heavenly," an adjective derived from "Sky." I'm not 100% about this; in Japanese her name also sounds like Ceres, a Roman grain or earth goddess. "Heavenly" would be in keeping with FF's tendency to have a weather or sky name for a main character.
Firion (Final Fantasy II) is a made-up fantasy name, but I can't help noticing it's Tolkien's Elvish for "mortal man." A coincidence, however: the meaning of firion was revealed in War of the Jewels, published by Tolkien's son Christopher in 1994 (6 years after FFII).
Eiko (Final Fantasy IX) Japanese for "long-lived child" or "splendid child."
Freya (Final Fantasy IX) [EDIT: I was puzzled at how a Norse god of love and sensuality fit this somber rat-warrior, but a guestbook commenter set me straight: "..the goddess Freyja presides not only over love, sex, fertility and beauty, but also war, gold, magic, and death. Half those slain in battle go to her hall, Sessrumnir, (As do women), the other half to Valhalla. She's said to have taught the Ãsir a kind of magic called seiÃ°r (sayth, saythur) also associated with Odin, though it was considered an 'unmanly' form of magic. Perhaps this explains our Dragoon's Red Mage-like qualities?"]
Gainsborough (Final Fantasy VII) hints at one of the ways that I think Square-Enix has traditionally found names for some characters: throwing darts at a map (or, perhaps, borrowing names from overseas offices; see "Irvine" and "Laguna" below).
Irvine (Final Fantasy VIII): A city in California just north of Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, and Laguna Woods. As a resident of Irvine, I was quite puzzled by the appearance of these names in FFVIII. I finally tracked down the fact that Squaresoft used to have an office in Costa Mesa, just north of Irvine. ;) These two are notable exceptions along with Squall; most of the main characters in FFVIII appear to have names chosen because (a) they sound cool and (b) a native Japanese speaker probably can't pronounce them, making them very exotic.
Lightning (Final Fantasy XIII) is obvious, but her real name "Claire" is from Latin clarus, "brilliant, bright, clear." [[EDIT: A commenter below notes that in Japanese her first name was Eclair, French for Lightning, but it was altered in the English localization so that she wouldn't sound like a pastry.]]
Luneth (Final Fantasy III remake) is one of the Four Heroes of Light. His name probably derives from Luna, Latin for Moon or the moon goddess.
Penelo (Final Fantasy XII): Short for Penelope? Origin of that name is Odysseus' clever wife with an intellect to match his own -- both of them tricksters -- but Penelope was a homebody.
Ronsenburg (Final Fantasy XII): Not exactly an actual Dutch name, "fon Ronsenburg" is probably supposed to sound medieval Dutch or Germanic (like Vaan and a few other names). Rosenberg is one of the oldest German names, meaning "rose town".
Quistis (Final Fantasy VIII) Apart from Squall, the PC names in FF8 mostly seem to be tongue twisters, random fantasy names meant to sound exotic to a Japanese ear -- Zs, Ls, and Qs. So I don't really think her name was intended to mean a thing. However, it comes out to "you can do it!" in the perfect tense in Latin.
Terra (Final Fantasy VI) is an English localization; the original Japanese game calls her Tina, which sounds more exotic in Japan. Terra is Latin for "Earth, land" which pairs nicely with Celes, "of the sky." Another intriguing possibility is that Celes and Tina are simply derived from Celestina, a feminine name meaning "Heavenly" (cf. to a bunch of Popes named Celestine, the masculine form). I do not think their names have anything to do with the Medieval Spanish novel la Celestina, considering the profession of La Celestina.
Tidus (Final Fantasy X): Tida in Japanese version. Supposedly Okinawan Japanese for "Sun," to go with Yuna "Moon." I think Square intended the pun with English "Tide" as well.
Tifa (Final Fantasy VII) probably derives her name from Tifareth, the sixth emanation (Sephirah) of God, "Beauty," who as with all parts of the Kabbalah is associated with various words, numbers, traits. She is the "heart" and compassion of God.
Vaan (Final Fantasy XII): Medieval Dutch for "flag, banner." Moving away somewhat from the wind/water/weather names of heroes that really started with Celes (maybe) and Cloud.
Villiers (Final Fantasy XIII): a surname of a lot of powerful noble families in England and France. Ultimately from Latin villa, "country house, estate."
Vivi (Final Fantasy IX): Dear Vivi! His name seems to be from Latin vivo, "I live," but the form is curious. At first glance I thought it was past tense, "I have lived," like veni, vidi, vici, "I came, I saw, I conquered." But the v changes to x in the past tense; it's just a little irregular. Either the Latin translator at Square made a rare mistake -- Final Fantasy games usually have perfect Latin when they wish to -- or is making an interesting comment on Vivi's way of living. You see, Vivi also looks like the passive infinitive of to live, except...there isn't one! One can be kicked (passive of "to kick") but can one be lived? Perhaps as a created life form, Vivi does live in a more passive way than most of us. As for his last name, Orunitia, I found "Oruns," "heavens" in Vodou tradition, but it doesn't seem like a close match.
Wakka (Final Fantasy X): Ainu for "water." There's confused hints of different ethnic groups and cultures subsumed under the Yevon umbrella; the names of some of the islanders hint at this.
Yuna (Final Fantasy X): Supposedly Okinawan Japanese for "moon." Also related to word for "hibiscus," which is on her skirt and is her special dressphere in X-2.
Names of Final Fantasy Villains
Can't You Just Die the First Time We Kill You?
Chaos (Final Fantasy I): In Greek mythology, Chaos is the primordial soup out of which the universe emerges:
"In truth at first Chaos came to be, but next wide-bosomed Earth... From Chaos came forth Erebus and black Night; but of Night were born Aether and Day" (Hesiod, Theogony 116, written about 700 BC).
Compare the Bible: "In the beginning, all was formless and void." Chaos is not simply void, but undifferentiated matter; the opposite of Chaos in Greek thought is Kosmos, "order, harmony, the universe", which is the origin of "cosmetics" -- putting your face in order! Kosmos doesn't turn up in Greek myth so much as in philosophy (especially that of Pythagoras), where it is a concept, not a deity.
Genesis (Final Fantasy VII: CC) is named for "Creation", obviously (it's Greek), since he's a genetic experiment; but you may not have realized that Greek rhapsodos is a professional reciter of epic and drama. That fits, too.
Heidegger (Final Fantasy VII): Name of a 20th century German philosopher. I suspects this is another "throw darts at the wall" name along with Bugenhagen.
Jenovah (Final Fantasy VII) may be a conflation of "Jehovah" (the name is especially important in the Kabbalah, along with Sephiroth) and "Genesis".
Kuja (Final Fantasy IX): Hindu for Mars, the red planet, or (claims the FF wikia), kujaka, Japanese for "peacock"? Both work.
Lilith (Final Fantasy XI): Originally a Mesopotamian demoness-figure who harmed infants, medieval Jewish folklore and the Kabbalah made Lilith the first wife of Adam, who refused to be subordinate to him. She is often seen as the dark side of feminine power and lust (or, in modern times, as a figure of feminine power demonized due to misogyny).
Mateus (Final Fantasy II, FFXIII) is simply a Latinization of the Hebrew name "Matthew," meaning "gift of God."
Necron (Final Fantasy IX): From Greek nekros, "dead".
Neukhia (Final Fantasy Tactics): Presumably from Greek νεκυια, a fanciful rite for raising and consulting corpses, although the spelling's off.
Promathia (Final Fantasy XI): This villain's name is quite interesting; he appears to take his name from Prometheus, the Greek Titan who defied the gods to steal fire to aid humankind, whom some legends say he shaped/created. Prometheus was punished by being chained to a rock. Promathia seems a bit like an evil mirror image of Prometheus. The name means "fore-learning" or "fore-knowledge."
Riko Kupenreich (Final Fantasy XI): Hee! This evil Mog appears to have the name "King" (-rik, a root found in several N. European languages) "of the Kupo Kingdom." reich is German for "realm," but also doubles as the adjective for "rich," suitable for a greedy Mog.
Occuria (Final Fantasy XII): It looks vaguely like this comes from Latin occuro, "happen, come about," as if it means simply beings.
Sephiroth (Final Fantasy VII) derives from Kabbalah, Jewish mysticism, which describes the Sephiroth (a collective plural) as the ten emanations of God represented as branches of the Tree of Life.
Seymour (Final Fantasy X): The etymology of Seymour could be from the French town of Saint-Maur, or it may be an Anglo-Saxon name combining "sea" and "mere." In which case it's yet another wind/water/weather name.
Solidor (Final Fantasy XII): Latin solidus has the sense of "pure" as well as "not hollow," and a solidus is a coin. Larsa's middle name "Ferrinas" appears to come from Latin ferrum, "iron."
Ultimecia,Ultima, Ultra (passim) are all from Latin Ultima, "ultimate, final, uttermost, utmost" or the related word Ultra "Extreme, outermost." Apt villain name for final fantasy.
Yevon (Final Fantasy X): It's Ebon in Japanese, but I've always wondered if this is an echo of Jehovah or the tetragrammaton. The church of Yevon in FFX, with its very non-Japanese emphasis on atonement for sins, appears to be very loosely based on Judeo-Christian organized religion.
Zeromus (Final Fantasy IV) is not Latin, just the Arabic "zero" with a rather Latin "mus" ending tacked on.
NPCs and Minor Characters in Final Fantasy
Biggs, Wedge, and Friends
Angelo (Final Fantasy VIII): According to FF8's Ultimania Guide Sant' Angelo di Roma, Rinoa's dog is named "Angel of Rome," according to the FF8 Ultimania. What's odd is that Sant'Angelo is a rione, a district of the city. It's not quite "Rinoa" but close. Also, Rinoa's wings look like angel wings, as on the district's coat of arms (right). What's it all mean? I'm confused.
Azul, Nero, Rosso, Shelke, Weiss (Final Fantasy VII: DoC): The first 3 are Italian for blue, black, red (the colors of each of these antagonists); Shelke is Urdu for orange, and Weiss is German for white.
Beatrix (Final Fantasy IX) comes from viator, a Latin word that meant "traveler, wanderer;" it got confused with Latin beatus, "blessed, beautiful" during the Middle Ages to create the lovely name Beatrix or Beatrice. A number of queens, including the Queen of the Netherlands (wait, they have a queen?) are named Beatrix.
Biggs and Wedge, recurring names of guards, are of course from Star Wars.
Bugenhagen (Final Fantasy VII) may derive his name from one of the German theologian, although this looks like one of Square's "throw darts at the wall" picks for a name.
Cornelia (Final Fantasy XI, also a town in FFI): One of the most famous women in Roman history, although I'm not sure if Square actually intended to model a character on a revered matron/mother figure.
Don Corneo (Final Fantasy VII): Don is of course the title for "boss" in the Italian mafia, and I suspect this character is making fun of the Italian mafia compared to the ruthlessly businesslike yakuza of Japan, on which the Shinra Corporation and the Turks are modeled. But did you notice that Corneo is Italian for "horny"?
Dyne (Final Fantasy VII): His name means "unit of force" or "power." It comes back as the equivalent of limit breaks / overdrives in FFIX.
Epopts (Final Fantasy IV, Final Fantasy XIII): members of a secret society. See this 18th-century conspiracy theory tract on the illuminati, whose members the author calls Epopts.
Fujin and Raijin (Final Fantasy VIII) are Shinto wind and thunder gods. Note Fujin is teamed up with Pandaemonium, the wind GF.
Fury Caraway (Final Fantasy VIII): Trivia Time! According to the FFVIII Ultimania Guide, RInoa's father's first name is Fury, a good name for a warrior. But why is their last name a kind of cooking herb?!
Gandof (Final Fantasy X): Golly gee, I wonder where they could've come up with that name? Maybe they were cribbing from the Norse Voluspa just like Tolkien! (Scroll down about two screens...Tolkien was later rather embarrassed to have borrowed names instead of inventing them when he wrote The Hobbit).
Gatta (Final Fantasy X): Italian for cat. Probably coincidence; I think Square took the real Ainu word "Wakka" and spun off a bunch of NPC names following the same consonant+vowel+double consonant+vowel pattern.
Kiros (Final Fantasy VIII): His name might be from Greek kairos, "the nick of time, the right moment," sometimes spelled kiros in modern Greek. Kiros seems to be an African name, but I am skeptical of baby name websites which all copy each other, so I'm not sure whether they're right that it's "king" in some (unspecified) African language.
Knights of Pluto: (Final Fantasy IX) Nine knights for FFIX, and Pluto was the ninth planet when this game came out. A rather puny planet, and sure enough, these were rather bumbling knights. All with German names to match Steiner's, by the way.
Laguna (Final Fantasy VIII): Here's Irvine, Laguna Beach, Laguna Woods, and Laguna Hills on Google maps. Laguna is Spanish for Lagoon. Loire is a river in France, and Laguna's girlfriend is Raine, in keeping with FF's recurring water-and-weather names.
Logos (FFX-2): "word, speech, discourse" in Greek. Not sure how it relates.
Lucil (Final Fantasy X): Luke, Lucille and related names all go back to Latin Lucus/Lucilla, with the root lux, "light."
Lucrecia (Final Fantasy VII): Possibly named for the legendary Roman matron, Lucretia, who committed suicide after being raped by the King of Rome. Rather a tenuous connection, but Hojo is a creep.
Maat (Final Fantasy XI): In Egyptian mythology, the goddess of justice, rightness, balance, the "feather of truth." But the FFXI character is male and his Japanese name is Mato, so I'm not sure about this one.
Marlene (Final Fantasy VII): Common name, supplosely a contraction of "Mary Magdalene."
Martine (Final Fantasy VIII): General Martine has a girl's name (oops!) but it means "of Mars, dedicated to Mars," the Roman god of war.
Montblanc, Leblanc (Final Fantasy XII, X-2): blanc is French for "white," mont is "mountain," le is "the." I would like to know why two mob bosses have "blanc" in their names. Is there some famous crime boss or mafia leader I don't know about?
Odine (Final Fantasy VIII): The good doctor has a medical-sounding name, iodine with the prefix missing.
Puck (Final Fantasy IX): Trickster figure, a diminutive form of the more dangerous Phouka of Celtic mythology, popularized by Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream.
Reeve (Final Fantasy VII): "steward" in the old sense, akin to the the Stewards of Gondor. Reeve is a medieval English title for the chief magistrate of a town under a Norman king or (later) the manager who oversaw the estate and serfs of a nobleman. Pretty much his job in the Shinra Corporation: he's in charge of Urban Development.
Reks (Final Fantasy XII): Latin rex is "king," unfortunately now mostly found as a name for dogs.
Reno (Final Fantasy VII): Some have noted that the Japanese L/R shift means this could be Latin leno, "pimp," but I suspect he's named after Reno, Nevada: a gambling town only slightly less famous for its casinos than Las Vegas.
Rufus (Final Fantasy VII) is a common Latin name meaning "red" or "red-haired." I can't think of any mythological association.
Shinra, Sin (Final Fantasy VII, X): I noticed that "Sin" is pronounced "Shin!" in the Japanese original. And then there's "Shinra." Shin is Japanese for "spirit, god," as in Shinto. Does President Shinra have a god complex?
Siegfried (Final Fantasy VI) the thief may be named for the German/Norse hero Siegfried, slayer of the dragon Fafnir.
Stiltzkin (Final Fantasy IX): In keeping with the vaguely medieval German / Grimm's Fairy Tale feel of this game, the most important Mog has a fairy tale dwarf's name, somewhat truncated. (Rumpelstiltzchen meant "little post rattler" -- a medieval German house goblin that was supposed to be what caused furniture to rattle, floorboards and beams to creak).
Tot (Final Fantasy IX): Phew! I was afraid Doctor Tot's name was German, like much of FFIX, making him "Doctor Death." The FF Wikia suggests the Egyptian god Thoth, sometimes spelled Tot. This may be right: both are beaky.
Tseng (Final Fantasy VII) is an extremely common Chinese surname sometimes translated "great-grandfather," although it's only one word in that phrase. I've also found tseng (zeng1) is "to add, grow, increase," so I'm guessing it's really the "Great, grand" part.
Underhill (Final Fantasy I) is of course Frodo Baggins' "traveling name" when he's trying to go incognito in The Lord of the Rings. Underhill is the name of a merchant in FFI.
Zorn (Final Fantasy IX): German for "wrath."
Yet More Final Fantasy Names and Meanings
- Final Fantasy Summon Names: Mythology and Meanings
Okay, we know where the Knights of the Round (Table) come from, but just who was Gilgamesh? And what's with Shiva being blue?
- Final Fantasy Monster Names: Mythology and Etymology
Final Fantasy drags up monster names from world mythology, cryptozoology, even famous fantasy and science fiction authors to fill out its bestiaries.
- Final Fantasy Place Names' Meanings and Origins
Many of the place names in Final Fantasy worlds are invented, but some draw from real-world mythology, geography, archaeology, or even the Bible.
More Pages on Final Fantasy Names - There Are Many More Here
With a few exceptions (Wakka, Tidus, Yuna), I have not been re-posting the etymological information found on other Final Fantasy names pages; instead I've just been going through lists of FF character names and researching those I can look up or recognize from my (somewhat rusty) Greek and Latin. This means I've missed a lot, especially Japanese names. These pages have a lot more:
- Final Fantasy Character Names: Origins
Excellent article on the meanings of many Final Fantasy names on the FFcompendium website.
- Religious Allusions in Final Fantasy
Concepts and figures from various religions (overlapping mythology) according to the FF WIkia.
- Final Fantasy Etymology on FFWikia
Educated guesses (much like my own) on the etymology of Final Fantasy names, especially Japanese names.
Thanks for stopping by! Please share this page with fellow Final Fantasy fans!
© 2011 auronlu
Guestbook - For Final Fantasy Fans
anonymous on March 01, 2013:
This article is great! I'd like to suggest that "Shinra" is written with the kanji (Japanese ideograms) of "god" and "network". Not sure of what it means, but pretty interesting, I guess.
anonymous on December 27, 2012:
Actually Shinra is in X-2 and XIII-2 too.
And a fun fact, the spanish FFX version, writes Sin as "Shin". I personally think that the name is Sin (because of religious sins) only to make that point, but I think that it's origin is Shin, and that could be japanese for "Spirit, god", or could it be:
-13th letter in arabic alphabet
-21st letter in many Semitic alphabets (literally means "sharp") In gematria, Shin represents the number 300. Shin, as a prefix, bears the same meaning as the relative pronouns "that", "which" and "who" in English. In colloquial Hebrew, Kaph and Shin together have the meaning of "when". This is a contraction of ×Ö¼××©×¨, ka'asher (as, when). Shin is also one of the seven letters which receive special crowns (called tagin) when written in a Sefer Torah. See Gimmel, Ayin, Teth, Nun, Zayin, and Tzadi. According to Judges 12:6, the tribe of Ephraim could not differentiate between Shin and Samekh; when the Gileadites were at war with the Ephraimites, they would ask suspected Ephraimites to say the word shibolet; an Ephraimite would say sibolet and thus be exposed. From this episode we get the English word Shibboleth.
-Shin of Hindukush (A pre-islamic tribe from the Hindu Kush) ->this doesn't seem related at all, can be discarded
-Could be a reference to Shin Buddism (this makes sense for me, ORIENTAL religion, FFX was based in oriental cultures) named after his founder: Shinran (isn't that too much coincidence?)
-Shin is also a synonym of Dard People, a group of Indo-European Indo-Iranian-speaking peoples predominantly found in Eastern Afghanistan, in the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir and in the Gilgit-Baltistan region and -Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. ->This doesn't make sense for me neither
auronlu (author) from Spira on December 11, 2012:
@anonymous: Excellent. I knew there must be some aspect I was missing. My college studies were in classics, so my knowledge of mythology outside the Greek & Roman (and Egyptian) world is much less in-depth.
Thanks for filling in my knowledge of Freya. I loved the character already, from the stories about her chariot drawn by cats, but this gives a lot more shading and depth to her figure. Definitely another Ishtar-type, with war as well as sensuality.
That info about seiÃ°r is fascinating.
anonymous on December 11, 2012:
Re: Freya: Yes, you ARE missing something. Freya's namesake, the goddess Freyja, presides not only over love, sex, fertility and beauty, but also war, gold, magic, and death. Half those slain in battle go to her hall, Sessrumnir, (As do women), the other half to Valhalla. She's said to have taught the Ãsir a kind of magic called seiÃ°r (sayth, saythur) also associated with Odin, though it was considered an "unmanly"' form of magic. Perhaps this explains our Dragoon's Red Mage-like qualities?
auronlu (author) from Spira on November 20, 2011:
@anonymous: Oh, thank you very much! I think I read that somewhere and then forgot.
anonymous on November 20, 2011:
This is an amazing resource! Thanks for sharing.
As a note of interest, Lightning's real name in the Japanese was actually Eclair, which is French for "lightning", but in English it just makes us think of pastries (yum!). So they changed it to Claire in the localization, which ties in with the sky/weather pattern you mentioned.