East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Caveman names


Let’s talk about names.
And not just any name – primitive names.
Names for cavemen – and I don’t mean Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble.
My primitive fantasy story requires a hero, and a heroine, and what else… and if I have a way to play fast and loose with Atlanteans and Lemurians and assorted campers, the name of the hero is too important an element to improvise.


So, for “lost civilization” cultures, I’ll use a few Minoan names, shuffling a few consonants about.
And if Didikase and Kubaba are a silly name for bad guys, Kitanetos might work with a little adjustement.
And the female name Kitane is quite good.
But when it comes to the primitive Homo sapiens, that’s a territory that’s been explored in the past, and it’s hard to be original and effective.

513FXqA5hqL._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_Consider Manly Wade Wellman’s Hok the Mighty.
Now that’s a good name.
Hok is short and guttural, but still sounds similar enough to hawk to carry a lot of meaning.
Add to that The Mighty and you are done.
Nice and smooth.

Brak the Barbarian does not play in the same league as Hok, but is certainly akin linguistically: short, one-syllable name, with a final K, plus a qualifier.

The K seems to be the brand of the primitive in fantasy: One Million Years BC featured Akhoba, Tumak and Sakana, while the women are called Loana and Nupondi (”the Wild One”, sounds like my kind of girl).


In When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth we have Kingsor, Khaku, Kane, Ayak, but also Tara and Sanna.
The main male characters in Creatures that Time Forgot are called Mak and Toomak, and the women are called Nala and Noo. There is also a Rool, but he’s a scumbag.
Teenage-Caveman_2In Quest for Fire we get characters called Amoukar and Ika, Lakar, Hourk, Mikr.
And in 1981 Caveman Ringo Starr portrays a character called Atouk, in a tribe that also features Ruck, Flok, Kalta and Bork. But after all it was played for laughs.
The characters in Teenage Caveman had no names, but only professional titles: symbol maker, fire maker, etc. But let’s admit it, that movie sucked big time.

So here I sit, with my character that will be probably known as “son of the fire-maker” and possibly as “the Clever” (with a wink and a nod to Jack Vance), but still needs a first name.
I’ll sleep on it.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

5 thoughts on “Caveman names

  1. You should find a free pdf online of one of the Lin Carter ‘Zanthodon’ books. Caveman names abound. Hurok, Sogar, Darya, etc.


    • I have both the print DAW books and the recent ebook omnibus of Zanthodon, probably my fave Carter series.
      And once again we get a guy with a K in his name… hmmm.


  2. There are some potential names here in these overviews of the Zanthodon novels from ERBzine online magazine here.


    It could give you some ideas for character names as well as being an homage’ to Lin Carter. He may not have been the best S&S writer, but he sure as hell promoted the genre like nobody else before or since (IMO).


  3. Depending on where your story takes place, you could choose an attribute for the protagonist, then do a reverse search and get its reconstructed Proto-Indo-European root – changing a few sounds/symbols to make it readable. Granted, PIE is still too recent for your time frame, but it’s a nice alternative to all those Ks.


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