Name generator needs some work

I would like to suggest that the Name Generator be beefed up a little for content. For example:

No Hispanic category - 48 million Hispanics, the largest ethnic minority in the US
No Mexican names

The above two points, alone, make it somewhat less than optimal for a novel set in the US.

The African American names are horribly out-of-date. They seem to consist largely of variants on the name “Kleavon” and “Elroy”. I’ve never met a person named Kleavon, and I have a feeling Elroy is a name relevant only to characters over the age of, say, 80. All of the typical, everyday African American names one encounters in 2011 (Tyrel, Tyrone, Andre, Antoine, Darryl, Shanice, Aaliyah, DeShawn, Darius, Maurice, etc.) are absent.

Three suggestions:

  • add an Hispanic category (this is a must-have), and also consider a Mexican category
  • clean-up of the African American category is seriously needed, as the names are outdated and stereotypical
  • functionality: it’d be useful to have some sort of age parameter that could be set for name selection. A 10 year old is not generally going to have the same name as a 60 year old. As a thought-starter, here’s a web site which shows name usage over time:
    Basically, my suggestion is: for at least a handful of major categories (such as American), to have a check-box for child, young adult/middle age, or old. This would make the results much more usable.


Maybe some Asian and African names for the database, too. Where I live, we have a steady flow of persons immigrating from Korea, North Africa, the Mediterranean, and what once was the Soviet East Bloc. Lots of name diversity here!

In film/writing we are always told to use distinctive unusual name because they stand out and add depth/character to the character.
The name database I think should be built around this, obviously calling a character Dave or Jim or Jack is obvious and cliche, if people wanted to name characters those then they would.
A name database should have names that writers don’t commonly think of, ones that stand out. The ones that you both mentioned, I have never heard of but I like the sound of; I live in Sydney Australia.
Interesting names I think are: Heath, Leon, Kadie.


Personally as a long-time Scrivener user, I wouldn’t want the developers to spend too long on the Name Generator. I imagine – I may of course be wrong – that these lists are bought by the developers “off the peg”, and if they don’t exist in the languages or the styles that we users might want, then that’s just too bad. I honestly can’t see Keith or Lee and their colleagues spending hours compiling them! And there are many other aspects of the software, excellent as it is, that, for me at least, they could, and no doubt would want to, spend time working on instead.

I’m probably prejudiced. As a reader, if I open a new book at a random page, and find some characters with interesting names, I’m more likely to read on. But for me tapping on the keyboard, inventing names for my characters is one of the very best bits of writing fiction. I think the name generator is fun, but I wouldn’t use it for anything intended for anyone else to read.


That’s true, not everyone needs the feature. Just trying to think bigger picture.

One of my favorite diversions is taking a modern name and seeing how far I can regress it etymologically and then using one of the earlier forms - for “flavor.” But I am an unashamed wordsmith and word-nerd, and realize not everyone shares this enthusiasm.



Since you can add lists to the name generator, I don’t know that they need to actively add to it themselves.

Though it would be neat for folks to share the lists they make for import.


I don’t always want weird names for my characters (someone in Boston MA would probably not be named Maykkenzayie) .I sometimes want a perfectly ordinary name, but I can’t think of a good one. Those are the times when I just want a list of ordinary names to mull over. The name generator doesn’t seem to have that.
If I open the name generator and search for American girls names, I get:

With the exception of Kellie, I have never heard of anyone named these names. The same goes for the list of boys names. Xiabiere?

I do like the fact that the generator has unusual names, but I would also like it to have some of the normal names too.

I like names that reflect a character’s personality:

A young boy who is very trying - Aidan, from the Gaelic meaning “little fire.”
A very competitive person - Emil, Emily, from an Old German name meaning “rival.”

And so on.

I won’t ask for this as a feature - the database structure linking names with roots from various languages and usages would be huge… probably take years to assemble.

Have a great day, everyone. :smiley:

There are a lot of good baby name or etymology sites which will let you search in that direction. Give Google a try. You can waste so much time there, trust me. :slight_smile:

Re: Name Generator requests in general–We may be able to add some more lists to the generator in the future, but this is a very low priority right now, as I hope you understand (it’s coming after “get major bugs fixed and tweak some interface settings so we can get 1.0 out the door!” :slight_smile:). As jenb pointed out, it is possible now to create and add your own lists to the generator, and we’d certainly encourage anyone who makes one to post it in the forums to share with other users. Everyone has quite valid concerns and requests, but it’s just not possible at the moment to put a focus on this with the amount of work Lee’s doing to get 1.0 ready for release, so although I’m not ignoring anything being written here, it’s just going to be on the back burner for a bit.

Original poster here.

Just wanted to make a note that if the developer(s) would like, I would be happy to contribute a couple of name lists for inclusion (now or down the road when they get to it) compiled from my own research. I have a pretty good and modern list of Hispanic names. And I have a wicked-great collection of Anglo-Saxon names, compiled from a large number of AS sites and sources - hundreds, but I could easily whittle it down to a core couple of dozen.

P.S. regarding the above offer, feel free to email me at cnut (at) prymm (dot) com if you’d like my names lists, now or down the road.

I just looked at the Norwegian names, and…

  • some of the names are NOT names (first or last)
  • some of the names are Danish, Swedish or from Iceland, not Norway.

Same problem with the Norse names.

Like cnut says, let me know if you want help with “real” Scandinavian names. (I’ll even look at the Norse names if you want)

I have some usability enhancements that I would like to see.

I would like the ability to add custom name and edit names in the My Short List list box. Additionally the ability to add notes to a name would not be unwanted (although it might clutter the interface somewhat).

Just out of curiosity on Scandinavian names - not sure about Sweden, but considering how often the Norwegians and the Danes mixed it up (battles, invasions, occupations) over many years, how much crossover do you find in those names between the two languages? Or, are they more dialects of a common core language?

Just wondering, I’m not a linguist but find names interesting.



Just picking the names from scrivener, to give you some examples:
(Norwegian settings)

First names:
“Freja” is more of a Swedish name. (8 listings in the Norwegian phone book, 2 of these are Finnish/Swedes)
“Evinrude” is NOT a name
“Norge” is Norway in Norwegian.

Last names:
“Wahlberg” IS a Norwegian name, but more common in Sweden
“Gubrud” is not a name
“Dock” is at the moment, the last name of 2 people in Norway…
“Sivert” is not a Norwegian last name.

But to answer RussWhaley’s question, yes, there are a lot of crossover. The easiest way to distinguish between Norwegian and Swedish are to look for names like Bjørn or Björn. (“ø” is Norwegian, “ö” is Swedish. Pronounced the same way. (You would say “Bjoern”, I think).

Same with the last names. There are a lot of names common in ALL the Scandinavian countries, but some of them are more “local”. Norway never had any Lords, Barons or such, so any name with a “von” in it “Tomas von Brömssen” would be Swedish.

As for the name generator in Scandinavia… Some of the names are “ok”. Most of the names are “passable”.

As a writer, you may get away with using a “Swedish” name for a Norwegian, but if you first take the time to CREATE a Norwegian, wouldn’t you want him to be as much Norwegian as possible? (You could name him “Mugabe Tenga”, but then… why make him Norwegian?)

I once read a ww2-thriller written by an American. I cannot remember his name. The book was exciting enough, but ALL the facts were wrong. The names were Swedish, our skiing (and everyone knows we are GREAT skiers :smiley:) would have been impossible to do, and our clothing was taken from photographs (We had our socks outside our trousers, and up to our knees… The REAL story is that the outfit is called a “nikkers” (from “knickerbockers”), knee-long trousers worn with knee high socks…

(I am not really sure why I included that last paragraph, it has been more than 20 years since I read that book)