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I found this name generator:

http://www.fakenamegenerator.com

And I'm wondering if maybe there are others? Has anybody found this kind of tool useful? What about tools for fantasy names? Should I think up names in a creative way, as answers for this question are mentioning?

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Flagged as community wiki –  Daniel Excinsky Nov 24 '10 at 7:32

8 Answers 8

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Seventh Sanctum is an excellent one. Serendipity also does good names for fantasy stories. Wizards of the Coast also has one on their own site as well. (Could be an invaluable resource for people who play Dungeons & Dragons and other roleplaying board games that require names. RinkWorks also has some interesting name generations. TheForge has one as well.

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Seventh Sanctum has quiet a few generators (some serious, some not), and it's my personal website of choice if I need something quickly. They provide a good quick framework I can flesh out. –  Fox Cutter Nov 24 '10 at 15:28

A quick google search would probably find you a few.

For fantasy town names, you could use: RPG Tools: Random Towns
Or there's this one or this one as well.

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I, personally, use the Character Naming Sourcebook by Sherrilyn Kenyon, as well as BabyNamesWorld. When it comes to fantasy names, though, I've never found a generator that worked as well as taking a real name and altering it. It especially helps if you have a general idea of how names in your world should sound. Read through lists of names from Ireland, China, India, Zimbabwe, and other locations around the world. You'll come to identify patterns, and it will help you to create your own names with similar patterns or sounds, while still being unique and appropriate for a fantasy setting.

It can also be a helpful skill to have when creating names for different locations in your world. It emphasizes their differences - not only in culture, but in speech, as well. And it adds to the realism of the world.

That's something that a generator simply cannot do. Not well, in any case.

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A few years ago I created a tool called The Gibberizer: http://code.google.com/p/gibberizer/

You give it a bunch of words, and it invents new words that sound somewhat similar. If you give it a bunch of words/names from a given culture, it will invent new words/names that sound like they come from that culture.

For documentation, see the Wiki tab at the link I posted above. Especially the WaysToPlay page. (I'd paste the link myself, StackExchange limits new users like me to only one link per post.)

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Wow, this is a cool idea. Anyone want the "web-enable:" it? –  MGOwen Dec 7 '10 at 1:41
    
@MGOwen: Alas, not me. I haven't the enthusiasm to rewrite it in a more web-friendly language. I think the code is reasonably understandable though, so anyone with the energy has my encouragement to have at it. –  Dale Emery Dec 13 '10 at 8:16

Your own imagination, in collaboration with your memories and, perhaps, communication with others.

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I know it doesn't work for everyone, but this is what I use. It means that it fits into my world, which is where I create my stories from. –  Schroedingers Cat May 9 '12 at 8:09

There's also a somewhat basic name generator called Behind The Name that will let you select several different national heritages to choose from, as well as Biblical and other mythical origins. There's also a similar app for your iDevice called Name Shake, if you're into that sort of thing.

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I just use the wiki list's most popular names database: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Most_popular_given_names which gives you a breakdown of names by Region and country.

For US names, particularly if you are needing a historically accurate name for a specific time frame, I use the Social Security name database: http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/babynames/decades/century.html to make sure a name is not too unusual for the time of the story. For example, "Lisa" is a great name to use for a story about someone born between 1960-1975 or so, but would be somewhat unusual for a person born in 1950 or 2010 to have the name. Similarly, while "Jayden" has been popular these past couple of years, it wouldn't be a common name in a story set in the 1980's or for an adult to have in a story set in our current time.

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Springhole.net has a whole collection of generators depending on your genre. I usually don't use the ones for character names, but the ones for country names, item names, plant names--those are great. I find it really difficult to come up with spellwords that don't sound stupid, but that site can be a really helpful one.

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