The Etymology of the Souls Series: A Guide

The Etymology of the Souls Series: A Guide

One of the great things about the Souls series games is the enormous attention to detail that the developers pay when creating their worlds, along with a subtle narrative that encourages us to explore these worlds ourselves.

An important part of it are the names of the characters and lands the developers choose. In fact, these names always bear some meaning, and, even though to some it might look that they’re just “another random fantasy name”, they have meanings that are usually related to the story of their characters or places, often being really intriguing hints on the game’s lore. These names are often even composed in linguistically correct ways based both on real-life and fictional languages. In fact it’s almost a Tolkien like approach where From Software even uses some of the elements from the Elvish languages created by J.R.R. Tolkien.

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I enjoy researching the etymology of the Souls series names as you’ve seen in my recent exploration of the names of Pyromaners and in this post I have listed all the names I’ve covered so far in my research. Of course the list is far from being finished, and it doesn’t even include all the names I’ve researched so far, only those I have discussed in videos. In those I’ve taken a look at their etymology, roots, and in which way exactly they fit their character or place.

As these names often represent their characters quite well, these meanings might also be very helpful to understand the story of Dark Souls better.

There are about 90 names in this list from things people and places in this game, but I also included some alleged names that might be possible names of some characters that are left anonymous in the game, such as the Nameless King, for example.

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In fact this list is the first stage of my work on the etymology dictionary of Dark Souls, which I’d like to make more or less a proper dictionary with all the roots and elements and references. What follows are some possible etymological meanings of the names, and presently you can check out this playlist on my channel for a video for every name listed here for an in depth exploration on the etymology and history behind each name.

  1. Aldrich: possible reference to Lovecraft “eldritch”; Germanic “ald” for old, “ric” for ruler
  2. Alvina: from names Aelfwine, Aedelwine; Anglo-Saxon “alf” for old, “wine” for friend
  3. Anastacia: Greek for resurrection
  4. Anor Londo: Elvish “anor” for sun, “lond” for haven, harbor or narrow passage
  5. Ariandel: “aria” for noble, royal, silver, “del” for foliage, leaves, or even Proto-Germanic for hollow, abyss
  6. Astora: Greek “aster” for star
  7. Astraea: Greek “aster” for star, Greek virgin goddess of innocence and purity
  8. Balder: Norse god of light and purity, “baldr” for brave, bold
  9. Berenike: name of an ancient Greek colony, means to bear, carry, bring and victory; bringer of victory
  10. Caitha: “caith” for to consume, to drain, to spend
  11. Carmina: similar to “carmine” a bright-red pigment
  12. Cornyx of the Great Swamp: Latin “cornix” for crow
  13. Corvians: Latin “corvus” for raven
  14. Courland: region of western Latvia, Livonian “kurt” for light, burn fuel
  15. Cuculus: Latin for cuckoo
  16. Domhnall: ruler of all
  17. Dorhys: from the name Doris, Greek for Dorian woman, sea nymph in Greek mythology representing bounty of the sea
  18. Drangleic: Germanic “drang” for push, drive, yearn, “ic” or “reich” for kingdom
  19. Dunnel, the Livid Pyromancer: derived from Domhnall, ruler of the world
  20. Eamon, the Court Sorcerer: Old English “ead” for wealth, “mund” for protection
  21. Eingyi: Old English “engi” for anger, angst, troubled, choke
  22. Eleonora: from name Eleanor, a mother-daughter connection
  23. Elfriede — (also used in shortened form “Friede”)
  24. Eygon: Old English for sword
  25. Fair Lady, the
  26. Farron: from French “ferrent” for iron gray
  27. Fina: Spanish for fine, beautiful, attractive
  28. Flann: Old Irish for red
  29. Flynn: derived from “O Floinn” for Descendant of Flann
  30. Friede
  31. Gael, the Slave Knight: “gael” derived from “wedus” for wild man, warrior,
  32. Garl Vinland: Old English “gar” for spear or “churl” for man, hero.
  33. Gertrude, the Heavenly Daughter/Daughter of Angels
  34. Gotthard: “gott” for god and “hard” for brave, hardy
  35. Great Swamp Cuculus: See Cuculus
  36. Greirat: simply means gray rat!
  37. Gwyn: composed from Welsh elements gwyn meaning “white, blessed, fair, holy”
  38. Gwynael: this name is not present in-game itself, however it is strongly related, as it might be a full form of name the Slave Knight Gael and also could be the original name of the Nameless King
  39. Gwyndolin: composed from Welsh elements gwyn meaning “white, blessed, fair, holy” (see Gwyn) and dolen — “ring” or also “bow, hair, brow”
  40. Gwynevere: from Welsh name Gwenhwyfar (alternative forms: Guinevere, Jennifer, Ginevra) composed from element gwyn, meaning “white, blessed, fair, holy” (see Gwyn) + hwyfar — “soft, smooth”, or Proto-Celtic *sēbarā — “fairy, fay, ghost”
  41. Gwynfor: this name is not present in-game itself, however it is related, as it could be the original name of the Nameless King
  42. Gwynfryn: this name is not present in-game itself, however it is related, as it could be the original name of the Nameless King
  43. Havel: Vaclav Have, Czech writer, philosopher, dissident and statesman or Latin for rooster
  44. Hodric: “hod” for god, “ric” for power, ruler; “ric” also has Old Middle High German meaning for backbone, neck
  45. Irina: derived from words meaning peace, name of several early Christian saints
  46. Irithyll/Irsil: Elvish for moon
  47. Izalith: “iza” for behind, “lith” for stone or limb
  48. Kamui: ninja Kamui from Legend of Kamui manga; a deity
  49. Karla: Anglo-Saxon “churl” for human, commoner
  50. Klimt: Austrian painter Gustav Klimt, or the name Clement which means merciful, gentle
  51. Kriemhild: Germanic “grim” for mask, “hild” for battle
  52. Laurentius of the Great Swamp: a person from laurel
  53. Lautrec: French painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
  54. Leonhard: lion and brave
  55. Lloyd, the Allfather/King Deity
  56. Londor: “lond” for haven, harbor, narrow passage
  57. Loretta: lora from Eleonora,
  58. Lorian: possible alternative name to Lothric
  59. Lothric: “loth” for famous, “ic” for kingdom, famous army
  60. Ludleth: derived from “loth” for famous, “leth” possibly for less
  61. McDonnell — “Son of Domhnall” (see Domhnall)
  62. McLoyf: Old Scottish “loif” for to praise, to honor, to extol, to glorify
  63. Mirrah: from the resin myrrh, an embalming agent or from Portuguese “mirrar” for to wither
  64. Morne: Old English “morne” for to mourn
  65. Nameless King, the — exact name is not mentioned in-game, for possible options see Gwynael, Gwynfor, Gwynfryn
  66. Orbeck: Norse “or” for wet clay, mud, dizzy, “beck” for brook, stream
  67. Ornstein: composer Leo Ornstein
  68. Ostrava: Czech city
  69. Quelaag: sword edge of chela
  70. Quelabhan — this name is not present in the game itself but is mentioned as a possible name of the Fair Lady
  71. Quelana/Quelaana: not chela, unlike her sisters
  72. Rendal: “rend” for to tear, cut down, or from the name Randle for rim of the shield
  73. Ricard: “ric” for ruler, power and “hard” for brave, hardy, severe
  74. Salaman: Persian “sam” for fire and “andarun” for inside
  75. Selen Vinland — (for surname “Vinland” see Vinland)
  76. Sen’s Fortress: Japanese “sen” for thousand or battle, or Senhime of Himeji castle
  77. Sieglinde: Germanic for victory and gentle, soft
  78. Siegmeyer: Germanic “sieg” for victory
  79. Siegward: “sieg” for victory, “vardr” for guardian
  80. Sif: “sif” for relation by marriage, family, friendship
  81. Solaire: Latin “sol” for sun
  82. Sulyvahn: from Irish name Suilleabhan, which means little dark eyes
  83. Tarkus: prog rock album Tarkus by Emerson, Lake & Palmer, depicted as an armored tank armadillo
  84. Thorolund: Norse “thor” for thunder and “lund” for grove/tree
  85. Velka: Czech “velka” for big one, great one or Finnish “velkaa” for debt
  86. Vendrick: Could be related to Gwyn, or Latin “vend” for selling, Albanian “vend” for land, Norse “vende” for turn, Estonian “vend” for brother and “ric” for ruler
  87. Vilhelm: will, desire, and protection
  88. Vinheim: “vin” for wine, meadow or delicate, nice, beautiful or wind  and “heim” for home; possibly like Windham for wind home as a Berserk reference.
  89. Vinland: wineland or meadowland
  90. Yhorm: Norse “jormun” for huge or from Proto-Germanic “ermunaz” for strong, whole
  91. Yorshka: Japanese “yoru” for night, “shi” for teacher, “ka” to make the sentence a question. So “night’s teacher, or is she?”
  92. Zena: Genoese name of Genoa, home of traders, adventurers, explorers

My greatest thanks to my associate Vitar for his help with some of the names. As you can see, there is quite the list of names present in this series, each with their own history and roots. Even so, this list is still only scratching the surface. As we progress in our research we will add further directories and definitions of existing and new names to explore!

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Take some time and look into the names of some of the characters that interest you can try and tease out some of the meanings for yourself. It’s a fantastic mental exercise and adds an extra layer to this already extremely deep and subtle game, and one you could devote years of examination to. During this holiday season, it’s a bit of ornamentation that I’m certainly thankful for!


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7 comments on “The Etymology of the Souls Series: A Guide”

  1. Avatar Nodos says:

    I liked it. Some of the names, really combine with the story..

  2. Avatar dn1nd says:

    Awesome job.

  3. Bloodshot_Jester says:

    Hashtag Devoted. Thanks for the "thinkpiece."

  4. Avatar Fexelea says:

    Great article! Thank you Oswald 🙂

  5. Avatar OswaldFromCarim says:

    I thank the editors for editing my list (it’s quite a hard work they did), but I also must note that it’s not exactly what I wanted to tell about some of the names, as for some of them I actually found and discussed more possibilities for some of these names than listed here.

    For instance, Havel isn’t only a possible reference to Vaclav Havel, but the name "Havel" is actually a Czech form of Latin "Gallus" meaning "rooster" which could also be the case here, given the shape of Havel’s helmet. Or, another example, Gael could also be a form of name "Gwynael" with "Gwyn" not only being a name of the First Firewood Lord/Lord of Cinder and a root for the names of his children, but also simply meaning "white/blessed" while Gael uses Way of White Corona miracle.

    Or, Lothric as name of the kingdom and name of the prince might be actually two different names, as it’s discussed in my etymology research videos, as the "ric" element has actually two related meanings: "kingdom/realm" (can be compared to German "reich" derived from "ric") and "ruler", so Lothric for Prince’s name could be "loth" + "ric" meaning "an unwilling ruler" (referring to his attempts to escape the "fire-linking curse"), and all of this in addition to the "hlud" + "hari" ("famous army") as in "Lothar", while "Lothric" as a name of the kingdom might actually have "ric" in meaning of "realm".

    Initially, what I posted was just a list of names and links to the videos where they’re discussed — pretty much like this post http://kazzarma.tumblr.com/post/153309504783/behindthesoulsnames” rel=”nofollow , while I’m still working on something that would be more like a etymology dictionary, and basically what the editors did was to watch all the videos and write down all this stuff to the list, which probably wasn’t a easy thing to do, but in those videos there were more possible meanings for some of the names, for example I gave a little more explanation about Greirat, I mean he’s likely a reference to a TES character and It’s discussed in the video I posted a link to initially, it’s not that he’s simply "gray rat" (it’s too obvious lol), or with Astora the "star" meaning is only one of possible meanings, while it also could be derived from Occitan "astur" for "hawk", which might make this name a really neat reference to Berserk manga (again discussed in more details in the video) or "Farron" could also be derived from root "fara" meaning "to travel", which is also interesting as Farron is called the land of itinerants. And so on.

    + as for Dorhys, "Doris" as "Dorian woman" and a name of a sea nymph are pretty much two separate meanings, so it’s more like "it’s either Dorian woman *or* sea nymph" with sea nymph reference being a more plausible theory, given the lore about the Deep Sea.

    I hope it’s not a problem if I post a link to the "etymology videos table of contents" http://kazzarma.tumblr.com/post/153309504783/behindthesoulsnames” rel=”nofollow because in the videos I gave more explanations and it’s important to me so people would get me right (it’s not like I simply found about Vaclav Havel and forgot to research the etymology of word "Havel" and such). And again, my great thanks to the editors for correcting some stuff my articles as I’m not really good at writing stuff in such format T_T

  6. Avatar Fexelea says:

    The videos and playlist are linked in the paragraph before the list, with the following text:
    "What follows are some possible etymological meanings of the names, and presently you can check out this playlist on my channel for a video for every name listed here for an in depth exploration on the etymology and history behind each name."

    Did you want to add another link to those two?

  7. Avatar OswaldFromCarim says:
    The videos and playlist are linked in the paragraph before the list, with the following text:
    "What follows are some possible etymological meanings of the names, and presently you can check out this playlist on my channel for a video for every name listed here for an in depth exploration on the etymology and history behind each name."

    Did you want to add another link to those two?

    No, it’s fine, thank you very much for your help, those are the same videos from the playlists you posted, only in the link I posted it’s more like a list of names + the links to the moments within videos where the name is discussed, so it would be easier to find a particular name if necessary (as in some videos I discussed several names at once at it’s sometimes a problem to find a particular one within the video), but it’s not that much of a problem really.

    It’s more just that I wanted to emphasize that there are more possible meanings that I discussed than those presented in the list, and, although I mentioned several possible fitting meanings in the videos, there are some that in my opinion are more likely to be the real meanings, and sometimes they’re different from those picked for the list, as some examples mentioned in my previous comment, or also "Eingyi" actually is also somewhat more likely to be created from Japanese 臙脂 meaning "rouge color" for color of his pyromancy (like Carmina’s named after carmine pigment, which has that bright red color as the Power Within pyromancy she devised).

    Also there’s a mistake in "Lothric" or "Drangleic" description, as it’s "ric" element which means "realm" or "ruler", not "ic", also the Lloyd’s name description is missing, and stuff like that. I imagine how much trouble it was to watch all the stuff and actually write it down, so it’s no wonder that there might be some stuff like this, and actually writing down all the long explanations to the list is pretty much impossible anyway, but I’m just kinda worried that people might only read the list and think something like "pfft, he didn’t even know that Havel is derived from Gallus/totally missed the "Half Lord" meaning of Ludleth/Londor is actually lond+dor ("dor" meaning land like in "Mordor" or "Gondor"), but still dares to write an article on a subject he hasn’t even researched properly" or something like that T_T