On Names

What is in a name, anyway? For us here in the fandom, a name can be several things: a pseudonym, a description, even a whole other being, however fictional.  It’s safe to say, then, that names are pretty important to furries, and so maybe that’s worth taking a look at.  You have to start somewhere, so lets begin with how to construct a name.  There are, of course, many other ways to construct a name, but we’ve listed just a few of the best here.

  • [adjective][species] – This, of course, goes without saying. It’s the only method of choosing a furname that’s endorsed by an entire website. On the Internet! The pros? Well, obviously, the first impression will go much smoother, now that everyone knows your a SlutFox or an AngstWolf*.  There is simply no mistaking what you are, is there? It’s also food for subversion! Who knew, SlutFox is a virgin, and AngstWolf is really doing pretty alright in life!  As for the cons, well, if you can’t change the name, but you wind up changing your species, you could be SOL.
  • The suedonym – Sometimes, you just can’t think of a name.  Or…well, you can, but they’re all taken.  Well, that’s no reason to stop you!  Why, I was once !Xabbu (from a book by Tad Williams), then Ranna (from a book by Garth Nix), who then became Astarael (same book).  The pros – don’t really need to think too hard; it might already be memorable! The cons – it might already be memorable as something else; it might already be memorable by many others (I wasn’t the only Ranna…). Subcategory: The they-can’t-suedonym – You know, if works even better if you don’t have to worry about the problems associated with a stolen name.  Like if the author or origin is long dead.  I knew a cat named Merlin, for instance.
  • The appropriation – Why not just appropriate another word for yourself?  I very rarely go by Happenstance, which is also the name of a French film (pure happenstance, of course).  I have a good friend named Whiskey, too.  That’s good, I like whiskey and Whiskey!  Pros: pretty memorable. Cons: this one’s pretty safe, actually. Subcategory: l’appropriation – Bonus points if you appropriate from another language.  Just.. be careful of Japanese, okay?  There are a few Ookamis out there.
  • The punny animal – Of course, these are totally memorable for reasons that make people want to hit you in the mouth.  My otter-sona is named Macchi.  As in Macchi-otter.  In fact, the back story is that he’s got light fur and his parents weren’t very inventive, so they named him Caramel.  Caramel “Macchi” Otter.  Sigh.  Pros: totally memorable.  Cons: people want to hit you in the mouth.  Subcategory: The recondite lingual obfuscation of humorous intent – If the pun of your name takes more than a few words to explain it…may actually be a pretty good name, because then people won’t hit you in the mouth so much.
  • The real name – I…er…hmm.  I guess I may have met someone who used their real name once.  Maybe?  I mean…hmm.  Hey, was that guy Ty really named Ty?  Does Karlhockey count? This could be big, guys, I don’t know…maybe the new, unique trend in furry pseudonyms would be to just use your real name.  I mean, that’s pretty inventive, and it’s already © you… Pros: inventive.  Cons: now they know your name.

About Makyo

Makyo spends her time as a frumpy arctic fox, usually, but she's all over the map. She's been around furry since about 2000 under a variety of names. She writes, programs, and screws around with music.

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14 thoughts on “On Names

  1. I’ve always used my real name as my furry name! See, in non-furry conversation, whenever I’d introduce myself, I’d always get asked whether *my real name* was simply a nickname, or was actually my name. Having a bunch of pre-existing online non-furry avatars and aliases, when trying to “think of” a furry name, I essentially decided “screw it” and used my real name anyway. *And nobody is any the wiser until I tell them that it actually is my real name.*

    It’s unbelievable, how sweet it feels to have some furry refer to you as what is your real name, and then ask what your real name is. And then out comes the driver’s license, because they inevitably won’t believe me. I suppose that I’m fortunate enough to have parents cool enough to give me such a name that I can hide in plain sight.

    “Just.. be careful of Japanese, okay?” This *really* can’t be emphasized enough.

    1. Huzzah! Well, I certainly approve! Actually, at one point, I created an alt that used my real name, but it came off as exotic, because my name is really pretty boring. In a land where everyone has a story behind their awesome-looking name, some fox named ‘Matt’ just isn’t going to cut the mustard…

  2. Like the above commenter, my name is my real name. I got lucky to have cool parents, too; having “Darkclaw” as a surname was fortunate enough, but they really went the extra mile in choosing to name me “Moonfang.” My middle name is the only exotic one — Evelyn, after a favorite grandparent.

    In seriousness, I acquired my name through random chance — or something close enough to it, anyway. When I first stepped into the Internet, I went by the appropriation “Baikal,” because my parents are Russian linguists. Then I discovered this animal-person thing and realised, suddenly, that I didn’t want anyone to be able to connect “real” me with furry me (ah, how time has shaped thy thoughts, o collie). So I opened up my “Jane’s Fighting Ships of World War II,” closed my eyes, flipped to a random page, stabbed with my finger… and picked the name of a Greek motor launch, the Klisoura. My species was random, too, but every time I have tried to change it people become irate.

    My pen name in the fandom is my middle name mixed with my mother’s surname; it looks real enough, but it’s not. I have heard similar stories from other writers, possibly because this method is just obfuscating enough to fool prospective employers (after I left, my last boss googled me, pulled one of my coworkers into his office, and asked, “did you know [Klisoura] liked to fuck dogs?”) but leaves one with a publishable name, the Hugo committee inexplicably tending to frown on lionising the works of raichu117.

    1. I wound up forcibly mixing my real and online names sometime in college, and, given that my (semi)professional portfolio, including my resume, is hosted on drab-makyo.com, there’s little I can do to disentangle the two at the moment. Perhaps some day down the road when it becomes more important, that will be something to look into. Given that I was hired by a crazy furry, Triggur, I think I’m good for the time being.

      Me, I picked the name when I was going through the teacher licensing program, and was feeling rather cynical about the whole thing: Makyo are demons that distract from the path to enlightenment (I added ‘drab’ because my character is an arctic fox, which, being basically monochrome, is pretty drab; alternately, because I’m rather dull in person). I guess that makes that name une appropriation. :o)

  3. SERIOUS Word of warning about using a real name as part of your online fursonna – giving out your name is about as close as you can get to offering a formal invitation to stalkers of every sort; employers, family, (soon to be former) friends and random people online can and WILL find out who you are, who your friends are and possibly where you live. Sadly, I say from painful personal experience, DO NOT USE YOUR REAL NAME.

    1. This is an issue on the ‘net in general, as well, and it’s always good to think twice about what sort of data you wind up tying to yourself where it may be found (see Klisoura’s comment above). Sorry you had to go through this :/

      1. Thanks. Hopefully my experience will spare someone else the hurt of having to deal with people devoid of any sensible ethics or sociable empathy. Hopefully it will save other furs the necessitated burden of scrubbing your presence from the net (…a tedious, elusive and difficult task, I can assure you).

  4. I guees I’m still newish ish to the fandom that or I’m just having a blond moment because that section about [adjective][species] just made a whole lota sense about a whole lota names XD mer personally I haven settled on one name or the other, the ones I have online I keep static because either A: you cant change them, or B: I’m too lazyto do so ^^. Even now when I’ve got one I think I’m goin to keep ‘FREKTANE’ (means blue eyes) I aint so sure ^^

  5. Unique and memorable names are definitely the way to go, especially in a fandom where there are stereotypes, cliches, and repetitive names to no end. My name took me a while to think up. I took many different parts of my own personality and used words that described those. Also at the same time I used words that would look and sound other worldly or from a fantasy. There are so many different avenues to creating a fursona name for yourself, even more so than listed in the post. But what is most important is its something truly unique and personal.

  6. Some names I’ve noticed of late seem to use simple words with changed vowels in them with similar sounds and likewise for other letters. Sometimes these result in shortened names (EX: Soulless – Soulis; Silver – Sylver – Syl).

    Unfortunately, like original emails from the 90s, many user names contain references to real life identities, where user names can also be the name of an individual’s character. This can go also in the reverse direction, where it could be argued that some names are far too common to be different (an example could be Jack Dela Wolf, where Jack could be the actual name of an individual, but where Jack is also a very common name (note, I quickly made the name up; any actual relations with an individual who’s character shares the name is purely unintentional)). In either case, it’s still a risky move, but likewise, it could be also assumed that by using a common name if your name is also common, that it’d have a reverse effect where it wouldn’t raise any eyebrows (where a more unique name is easier to trace as apposed to a common one).

  7. Well, I learned that you should never give your personal information to strangers on the net, even if they’re your online friends (although this is changing, I’m starting to tell my real name to those who I think I can trust). So, pseudonyms all the way for me!

    Though, I’m a bit troubled when some furries’ names contain numbers or weird characters in them, as it’s hard to call someone like ‘heythere019=3″ without you feeling awkward about it.

    My name? Well, I’ve always used the name ‘kurohacker’ online as a pseudonym, then as I became a furry, I just took the ‘Kuro’ and attached another one of my favourite names, “Wolfe” to become Kurowolfe. So, kurohacker to the general online community, and Kurowolfe to the furry community.

    And I agree that using some other language other than English as your name can be pretty nifty to distinguish yourself, and some of my characters have either Japanese or Arabic names x3

  8. well for my main fursona, Xash, was originally a hedgehog called Azure. then someone RP burned the word ‘WODASH’ into his cheek so i renamed him Dash for short. Dash then became a tiger under the same name, then a wolf, then a kitten under the name Cloud, then a WolfTiger under the name Dash, which quickly became Xash. Azure is from Azure Kite (the .hack// franchise), Cloud is a from Cloud Strife (my bf at the time’s sona had the last name Strife), and Xash is just a renewal of Dash with an X instead (i like weird letters like X and W).

    BiT (my second most used) is a pun. he is an undead/reanimated panda corpse (well, mainly. he has lion and koala parts too). hes all stitched up and his lastname is Undead, so naturally, BiT Undead works perfectly.

  9. Well, my e-name is pretty much two suedonyms + contractions.

    No one else will have my name on accident, at least.

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