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Don Quixote:
Don Quixote: Judge a Book By Its Cover
Try to Remember
Divide and Conquer
Sancho's Big Score

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Don't Let the Pigeon Do an Interview

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Comments for Weekly Geeks 2009-06: What's in a Name?

Weekly GeeksWeekly Geeks 2009-06: What's in a Name? 02/14/09

For this week's edition of Weekly Geeks, we're going to take a closer look at character names. What are some of your favorite character names?

I am a book character name snob. I don't like usual names and it often bugs me when a character's name is obviously made to mean something significant. Nonetheless, literary names have made a lasting cultural impact.

A few names that have come to mind:

  • Don Quixote. From this nonsense name we get the word quixotic which has come to mean a person who is so focused on a personal goal to have lost touch with reality.
  • Sancho Panza: while I'm not a fan of pun names, I do like this one. It literally means "Sacred Belly" and is the perfect description of his beer belly and recurring munchies in the book.
  • Romeo: How this tragic hero has come to mean a most romantic man escapes me. Come one, he's an angst filled teenager who ends up taking things to extreme measures to a bad end.
  • Nemo from Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea: It's Latin for "nobody". It's a name he chose for himself when he became a submarine terrorist and therefore makes perfect sense. Of course now Nemo brings to mind a little clown fish with a gimp fin.

From more modern stories:

  • James Mackintosh "Qwill" Qwilleran from the Cat Who... series of mysteries by Lilian Jackson Braun. Of course he's a writer and his name can be shorted to Qwill.
  • Thursday Next: All of Jasper Fforde's characters have silly names. Thursday's sort of makes sense given the time travel aspect to the series but it still feels like a dumb gimmick to me. I don't especially like the series.
  • Mort from Mort by Terry Pratchett. Pratchett's names tend to be silly too but they blend well with the stories. Mort, of course, apprentices to DEATH, so his name is morbidly a propos.


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Comment #1: Saturday, February, 14, 2009 at 20:23:51


I had an idea that Quixote was a Spanish term but haven't been able to locate info about it.


Comment #2: Sunday, February 15, 2009 at 11:31:15



  • Armor for the thigh. (m)
  • A man who engages in quixotic enterprises. (m) (this one comes after the novel)
  • Fleshy part over the hoofs of horses or asses. (m)

Quixote / Quijote when he's not dressed as a knight is also known as Sr. Quijada (Jaws). Basically he likes to gab a lot and the only truely genuine part of his armor happens to be the legings. He isn't though meant to be a "Quixotic" character.

See SpanishDict.

Comment #3: Saturday, February, 14, 2009 at 21:05:37

gautami tripathy

How did I forget Don Quixote?!


Comment #4; Sunday, February 15, 2009 at 11:38:13


I have been a bit one track minded lately. I am almost done with the book.

Comment #5: Sunday, February, 15, 2009 at 05:58:45

Dorte H

Thanks for visiting me.

Fine work you have done on this one - but I do not agree with you on Romeo. I think he is really romantic, just too young to know what to do about it :)

Comment #6: Sunday, February 15, 2009 at 11:42:54


He has feeling for Juliet but he can't possibly be romantic if he's "young to know what to do about it."

Comment #7: Sunday, February, 15, 2009 at 21:50:41


Great list. I've never read 20,000 Leagues, so Nemo brings to mind the cute little fish for me (even though I've never seen the movie). It's hard to escape the reach of kiddie movies and marketing these days.

Comment #8: Wednesday, February 18, 2009 at 20:11:14


Nemo the fish is a nobody fish who ended up taking a long under the sea journey and becoming a somebody in the process. Although it's Marlin who proves himself more than Nemo.

Anyway... Captain Nemo appears in two Verne novels: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and the sequel, The Mysterious Island. I prefer the goofy adventures of Island to the original.

Comment #9: Monday, February, 16, 2009 at 08:42:13

Ann Alien

Nemo was such a great name too before Pixar. Just like how the name Homer was bastardized by The Simpsons.

Comment #10: Wednesday, February 18, 2009 at 20:18:31


Matt Groening's father was Homer Groening. Homer Simpson is loosely based on him.

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