Just call me Shana GerraughtyAborn. Or Ciara Ni Chadhla. Or Tondlaogohe Yahhullim. Or Oceana Mariana. Or Scarlett Arathorn, Archduchess of Sussex. Thanks to the zillions of last name generators, you don't have to settle for the ho-hum name you were born with. Just plug in your name, or answer a few questions about your taste in food or music or whatever, and voila — your new identity is set!
Apart from the entertainment value of seeing a computer churn out imaginative monikers, name generators actually do serve a useful function. As the Word Counter Blog site explained, these sites are often used by writers looking for good names for their characters; if your book is set in a foreign country, you need that ring of authenticity. Or you might want to change your own name when you're writing a different genre of book than the one you're more commonly known for. (Think of Stephen King writing as Richard Bachman, or J.K. Rowling's pseudonym of Robert Galbraith, which she used when she submitted her first non-Harry Potter book to publishers.) Gamers turn to name generators for their online characters when they need just the right sound for their elf, wizard, or dragon.
Having a different name can also be useful for your social media account, if you don't want trolls knowing your true identity. Ditto if you're signing up for a website and aren't sure how secure it is. Performers joining unions such as Actors Equity or the Screen Actors Guild may opt to generate a new name either because their given name isn't distinctive enough, or because it's too close to the name of a more well-known celeb.
Curious? Check out these generator sites and see what new name strikes your fancy. (Just steer clear of Keya Zhuirentel — I'm claiming it for myself.)
1. Fantasy Name Generators
Your one-stop shop for an eye-popping assortment of names in just about every category you can imagine: Real Names (by nationality), Fantasy Names (by theme), Pop Culture, plus dozens of miscellaneous categories (armor, potion, school uniform, prayers, birthday wishes). If you're looking for a D&D character name, a new My Little Pony name, or a Game of Thrones Westeros alter ego, the answer is just a click away. (You may refer to me as Lyndia Drox from now on, thank you ever so.)
2. Behind The Name
Writing a novel set in Croatia, Finland, Thailand? A fantasy or mythological book? You'll find yourself clicking on this site again and again to find the perfect names for your characters, or just for your own amusement. The filters allow you to choose between masculine and feminine names, nationalities, and genres (my fairy name is Jellybeam Willowshine Cedarbluff). You can even opt to have the generator create an entire backstory, complete with birth and death dates, height and weight, blood type, handedness, and cause of death.
3. Name Generator
This basic name generator couldn't be simpler. Just enter your first name (or a first name of your choosing), click, and up pops a random surname; keep on clicking until you find the one you like best. (In just a few seconds, I became Yorgey, Triggs, Blackwell, Nakae, Lamarca, and Cerioli.) Cool feature: the site keeps a running track of your names and lets you copy the ones you like best. The menu also includes filters for gamer names, fantasy names, full pseudonyms, and more.
Boasting more than 1 million name options, the name generator tool of the Reedsy e-publishing site allows you to filter for gender, regional language, and genre (fantasy, medieval, mythology). There's also a book title generator, if you're stuck for just the right name for your future New York Times bestseller.
5. Random Lists
If you need a more straightforward surname generator, this is the place for you. Random Lists has a menu just for last names, offering a dozen options with each click of the button. (A sampling I tried included Villanueva, Day, Hancock, Fletcher, Cobb, and McKnight.) The site also lets you test out baby boy and girl names, cute nicknames (Squirt, Cheeky, Amor), and full names.
6. Rum & Monkey
If you're interested in creating a fun name to share on your FB or Twitter account, Rum & Monkey's name generator lets you pick from a number of options: Minion, Drunk Freshman, Samurai, Emo, Stripper, DJ, What They Call You Behind Your Back, and many more. (I am now a My Little Pony known as Lightning Snap.)
7. Royal Name Generator
Need something to keep you occupied until Meghan and Harry's new baby arrives (or until Will and Kate announce their next pregnancy)? E! developed a Royal Name Generator that determines your name, rank, and area of rule based on your own name and birth date. Have a tea party with your fellow duchesses and call each other by your royal names all day.