There have been many famous bear names down through history. Winnie-the-Pooh, of course. Paddington, Baloo, Gentle Ben. And there are countless names of dearly loved teddy bears that are a part of our childhoods. Mine was called Sooty. Named after bear in a story book named … well … Sooty.
But how do you name a whole lot of bears … and monkeys and people and birds and even a rabbit or two. I’m sure there are a lot of ways. Some people I know can invent names with what seems like the greatest of ease. That’s not me. And it may not be you. But thankfully there are some wonderful tools that are made for people just like us. Whether it be bears or baboons or racehorses or robots, here are a few things that have proved to be a huge help to me.
I would list them as “Old School” and “New School,” but I don’t think that’s really a thing, and even the “New School” things are really “Old School” if you were born in or after the 90’s. Does that make sense? Whew! 🙂
Ok. If I were to say (truthfully) “Old School,” a baby name book can be a wonderful friend. (I used a baby name website, which is kind of modern I guess, though it is basically the same.)
Starting at “A,” I went through every single name, writing down everything that could be a Growly Books possibility. I had four categories in mind as I was looking at names: Bears, Monkeys, People, and Other Animals.
After writing down all the possible names, I went through and marked whether the name sounds Bear-ish, Monkey-like, etc. There wasn’t really a science to this. Sometimes it was just Erin saying, “Definitely Monkey,” or just a feeling that “that’s a good Bear one.” What was important was that monkeys, bears, and people had very different histories and cultures, and there were certain names that just seemed to fit.
I tried to avoid names that sounded too familiar. Or names of people I know. (Not everyone wants to be a bear. 😉
For places, I tried to imagine what the founders might have been thinking when they envisioned the city or village. Towerwood, named of course for its enormous trees. Haven, named because it is where the bears of Hegel’s time found a place to rest. For ancient, abandoned places … names that sounded mysterious and old. Often, like in our world, place names can be a mixture of languages, and this can be a fun way to create a place that is familiar but also mysterious.
There are quite a few tools you can find online to help you if you get stuck. Name generators can be a lot of fun. You can Google “castle name generators” or “island name generators,” etc. (Just a warning though. Some of these sites might have viruses, so be careful). I just Googled “bear name generator,” and there actually are some! Why didn’t I think of this earlier?
One more thing I have learned about names. They will grow in meaning along with their character. So find one that sounds good to you, and don’t worry too much about whether it is perfect. You can always change it in the final edit if it still doesn’t fit by the end of the story. But I’ve got a feeling you probably won’t need to.
*One more way to name a bear. 🙂 I was stuck in traffic a week or two ago and saw this:
I think he or she will be making an appearance in the future.