Etymology of the Worlds of Final fantasy
Welcome back to my multi-part series on the meanings and myths behind names in Final Fantasy games. On this page, I'll focus on place names.
More often than not, especially in more recent games, place names seem to be invented, sometimes with a real-world geographic suffix like -bad or -burg or -cia tacked onto the end. However, there's still a lot of meaningful names in Final Fantasy geography, especially in the early games.
Note: Final Fantasy games, characters and locations are © Square-Enix.
Final Fantasy Place Names: A Survey
Often invented, but sometimes based on mythology
Alexandria (Final Fantasy IX): Rich, cosmopolitan capital of Egypt after it was conquered by Alexander and brought into the Greco-Roman world. Suggestive of a prosperous and civilized city.
Altair (Final Fantasy II): In real life, star in constellation Aquila, "eagle" in Latin; the star's name is a shortening of "flying eagle" in Arabic.
Amur (Final Fantasy III): A town the Warriors of Light reach following their battle with the Kraken in the Cave of Tides. I suspect it's named for the Amur River of China which empties into the Sea of Japan. The native Amur peoples were a mix including Ainu, an ethnic group of northern Japan.
Argus (Final Fantasy III): Name of the hundred-eyed monstrous henchman of the Greek goddess Hera.
Baaj (Final Fantasy X): "hawk" in Hindi. The Yevon script seen in the temples is based on an archaic Sanskrit writing system, as are some parts of Yevon religon (see "Yevon sacred symbols" for more info).
Balamb (Final Fantasy VIII): Maybe it's a total coincidence, but if Squall Leonhart's the Lion, here's the Lamb.
Bevelle (Final Fantasy X): In Japanese, it's Beberu. Probable a play on Babel, the tower of. Note Bevelle's prominent "Tower of Light" upon which Sin crashes during the final battle. (The Tower of Babel is prominent in FFIV.)
Canaan (Final Fantasy III): Biblical name for Israel and environs, a mythically-charged name that suggests a long-lost homeland.
Cardia (Final Fantasy I): kardia is Greek for "heart."
Celsius (Final Fantasy X-2): The temperature scale was named after the scientist who invented it, but it just so happens that celsius also means "higher, very high" in Latin. Good name for an airship.
Conde Petie (Final Fantasy IX): This dwarf community's name probably comes from French "Conde Petít", "Small town" or "small community." Petít is pronounced petie.
Costa del Sol (Final Fantasy VII): "Sun coast" in Spanish, a beach resort area in Andalusia, Spain.
Daguerro (Final Fantasy IX): A secret location with lots of items and synth shops. It may be named after Daguerrotypes, invented by Louis Daguerre. Guerre is French for "war", also appropriate for weapons shops.
Elfheim (Final Fantasy I): The home of the Elves in Norse mythology.
Esthar (Final Fantasy VIII): Strange technological continent and civilization to the east. Maybe from Biblical name Esther, which itself is related to Ishtar, "morning star." Appropriate for the "east" (which derives from the same root).
Esto Gaza (Final Fantasy IX): Not sure about Esto, but gaza is Greek (from Persian, I think?) for "treasury." There's some nifty treasures in this location.
Eureka (Final Fantasy III): "I've found it!" in Greek, a great name for a secret optional dungeon full of goodies!
Fabul Castle (Final Fantasy IV): I'm guessing it's from Latin fabula, "tale," as in a fairy or fantasy tale. Also the root of English "fabulous" and "fable."
Feymarch, Feywood (Final Fantasy IV, XIII): Fey means "faerie"; march is usually a borderland.
Figaro Castle (Final Fantasy VI): Allusion to Mozart's comic opera The Marriage of Figaro, since FFVI is the game with the great comic opera sequence (Maria and Draco).
Gaia (Final Fantasy VII, IX): Greek earth-goddess, Mother Earth, the world.
Germinas Peak (Final Fantay Tactics): Probably from Latin Germino or germen, germinis ("seed, sprout"). Oldest mountain in Ivalice.
Giza Plains (Final Fantasy XII, Tactics Advance): Cf: the Giza Plateau in the desert of Egypt, where stand the pyramids and sphinx.
Great Salt Lake (Final Fantasy VIII): A lake overlooked by my parents' house in Utah. I guess that makes Hill AFB and Salt Lake City Esthar. :)
Hiryuu Valley (Final Fantasy V): Hiryuu = Japanese for "flying dragon," often translated "wyvern" in English Final Fantasy games.
Iifa Tree (Final Fantasy IX): Not 100% sure on this, but it reminds me of ifa, a form of divination that's fairly well-known in Western Africa.
Junon (Final Fantasy VII): Variant spelling of Juno (the goddess Hera) in Latin.
Karnak (Final Fantasy V): Named after Temple of Karnak, an normous temple complex / religious center of ancient Egypt.
Kilika (Final Fantasy X): Hawaiian word for "silk", adapted from English. Not sure if Square had this word in mind; would make more sense for the weavers of Besaid.
Lethe River (Final Fantasy VI): The river at the border of the underworld in Greek and Roman mythology; drinking it causes forgetfulness, which is what the name means.
Lindblum (Final Fantasy IX): There's a lot of German in FFIX. The FFWikia claims this is a mistransliteration of German Lindwurm, "winged dragon," which sounds almost plausible.
Lunatic Pandora (Final Fantasy VIII): This odd name seems to derive from Luna (moon) -- since it's connected with the Lunar Cry -- and the myth of Pandora's box, from which all the world's evils spring.
Madain Sari (Final Fantasy IX): A clumsy Romaji transliteration of Arabic Madain Saleh: see beautiful photo gallery of this ancient archaelogical site whose ruins inspired the FFIX city of the lost summoners.
Memoria (Final Fantasy IX): An appropriate name for a mental-flashback world, it's Latin for memory, but also story.
Midgar (Final Fantasy VII): Midgard, "Middle Earth" in Norse mythology is conceived of as a flat circular land suspended between Asgard (heaven) and Nifheim (the underworld). Norse myths state that the gods fortified Midgard with an encircling wall to keep out the Giants.
Necrohol (Final Fantasy XII): Obviously from Greek nekros, "dead."
Nibelheim (Final Fantasy VII): Nifheim in medieval German, lit. "mist home," the underworld and the residence of the Nibelungs, the dwarves of the Nibelungenleid saga on which Wagner's Ring was based.
Nikeah (Final Fantasy VI): Spelled Nikea in the Japanese version, possibly from Greek nike, "victory."
Pharos (Final Fantasy XII): One of the seven wonders of the ancient world, the lighthouse of Alexandria. Pharos is simply Greek for "lighthouse."
Palumpolum (Final Fantasy XIII): A reference to the playable characters Palom and Porom in Final Fantasy IV (remember l/r are the same sound in Japanese).
Pandaemonium (Final Fantasy II, IX): You know the word, but did you know it means "all demons" in Greek? And in FFII, it's the gateway to Hell.
Salamand (Final Fantasy II): From salamander, Latin word for the amphibian which made it out to be a semi-magical beastie that lived in fire.
San d'Oria (Final Fantasy XI): d'Oria implies "of gold," in French, which is odd for a city that's so stuck on iron. Unless the san isn't the usual meaning of san in place names (Saint), but in fact is the Latin sans, "without."
Spira (Final Fantasy X): Latin for "spiral," undoubtedly the intended meaning. However, there's a fun Latin pun with this word: spiro,spirare is an unrelated Latin verb meaning "to breathe" and by extension "to live." (Root of English "respiration.") There are several puns on life and death with "Spira," as with "Sin," whose name in Japanese sounds like words for spirits and the dead.
Terra (Final Fantasy IX): "Earth" in Latin, the name for the world of FFIX.
Trabia (Final Fantasy VIII): Area in Sicily.
Ur (Final Fantasy III): Continuing the Biblical elements in early FF games, we have an early Mesopotamian city.
Vallis Media (Final Fantasy XIII): "Middle valley" in Latin.
Via Infinito (Final Fantasy X-2): "Endless (passage)way" in Latin. finis is Latin for "border, boundary" by the way.
Via Purifico (Final Fantasy X): Yep, the "Way of Purfication" (Latin), a place where people are punished for their "sins".
Zanarkand (Final Fantasy X): Probably a loose riff on the city of Samarkand, a crossroads between the Middle East and Asia whose name evokes exotic, faraway and mysterious places.
Names of Objects and Items in Final Fantasy
Madhu (Final Fantasy XII): Bhujerba's madhu is the Sanskrit/Hindu for "mead" or "wine," and it's related to the word mead.
Mako: According to a commenter on my blog, the Japanese characters for "mako" mean roughly "magical light."
Mog: "Mog" or "moggy" is British slang for "cat." On the other hand, one fan guesses that moogle comes from Japanese mogura, "mole" + komori, "bat."
Mythril: Misspelled "Mithril," a word coined by JRR Tolkien for his Sindarin Elvish language: mith "gray" + ril "glitter[ing], brilliance".
Pyrefly (Final Fantasy X): from Greek pyros, "fire."
(More to Come)
Genji weapons and armor: I suppose the name is derived from The Tale of Genji, the earliest novel in Eastern literature c. 1000AD. I'm a little puzzled; Genji in that story is more of a lady's man than a well-armed hero. Then again, a lot of FF characters don't resemble the mythical figures from which they derive.
I'm still working on this section, but see my article on the Top Ten Final Fantasy Swords (and vote on your favorites) for more!
More Final Fantasy Names and Their Meanings
- Meanings of Final Fantasy Character Names
Find out what all those names meant before you erased them and substituted your own silly names for party members (some of them unprintable).
- Final Fantasy Summon Names: Meanings and Mythology
You probably recognize Ifrit and Bahamut...or do you? Bone up on the mythologies behind our favorite Final Fantasy supernatural beings.
- Final Fantasy Monster Names: Origins and Meanings
Squaresoft raided the world's bestiaries, mythologies and cryptozoology to populate its worlds with monsters.
If you know any Final Fantasy fans, please share this page!
© 2011 auronlu
Guestbook - Thanks for stopping by!
auronlu (author) from Spira on March 05, 2013:
@anonymous: Kain's Lance refers to Kain the Dragoon in FFIV. (Also a cameo in FFII, although it's not clear it's the same Kain.) Fang plays the role of "Dragoon" from early Final Fantasy games, in some ways. Thanks for reminding me!
Gae Bolg is the spear of the Irish hero CÃºculann, the Hercules figure of their mythology.
anonymous on March 01, 2013:
I'd suggest "Nirvana" as a weapon, it's actually the final stage of the Buddhism meditation, and it's the name of the final weapon of white mages as Yuna and Vanille (please, explain it better, I'm not a native English Speaker ;_;)
I'd also like to know more about Kain's lance, that belongs to Fang and some knight of Dissia 12. Same as Gae Bolg (also belongs to Fang), which is from some mythology I really don't remember about.
auronlu (author) from Spira on February 21, 2013:
@anonymous: Hee! I've actually never lived in Ogden; they moved there after I left for grad school. I visit every year for Christmas. :)
anonymous on February 21, 2013:
SLC, eh? Did you go to East High?
anonymous on December 27, 2012:
You had a little mistake at "Costa del sol". You said "Andalusia", but it's actually written "Andalucia". In english there use to be confusion for spanish soft "c" because it seems to sound similar to "s" for enlish-speakers people.
And "Celsius", the flying airship of FFX-2, was named to make a pun to FFX, wich airship was named "Fahrenheit", because of the heat measure system. I don't thint that it has anything to do with it's latin meaning.
Sorry for my bad english!!
Mikewrites LM on July 19, 2012:
Nice lens, some cool meanings here!
anonymous on January 24, 2012:
Awesome! It seems the place developers were well read. I love the place names in FFXII the best. Thanks for the great writeup.