Where to Get Character Names

After all my bellyaching about how little character names really matter in the grand scheme of things, here are some of my favorite on-line sources for character names.

BabyNames.com has a list of American first names that includes names imported from many languages.

Behind the Name, the etymology and history of first names, has a database of English, ethnic, and mythological names, browseable by category.

Straight from the twilight zone, the Kalabarian Philosophy site has various name lists.

For last names, browse the white pages at InfoSpace.

I also generally do a quick white-pages search, as well as a Google search, on the full name of any characters I create. If there’s only only person in the world by that name, I may consider changing the name, although I don’t know why. All characters are fictional, and all that…


About J. Timothy King
J. Timothy King

I'm the eldest of three siblings, a stay-at-home father of two daughters, the husband of a wonderful wife, and an indie author of life-expanding character fiction. When not writing, I read, watch old TV and movies, play bass guitar, and tend to my family in our Boston-area apartment.

Catch me on:  my web site Facebook Twitter 


Hello Tim,

I think it’s interesting that you’d change the name of your character if your google/white page search has only one result. I always try to come up with uncommon names :) At least in my fantasy stories, most of my other stories feature rather common names.
Funny thing is that I tend to have more trouble finding name for the latter than I do for my fantasy stories … go figure.

J. Timothy King

Hi, Cayendi. I’d love to hear from an editor on this subject. Anyone want to ask Miss Snark? I guess I’m just a little skittish that the only Halibut Finklebum in the world might happen to read my story and think that I was alluding to him, to something he wrote on a blog or forum somewhere.

It’s probably a silly fear. For the record, all of my fictional characters are… well… fictional. :) I look to people I’ve met or have seen on TV for ideas as to how someone may react or behave, but I have never based a fictional character on any one person.


My characters stem from my imagination. I’ve never based a fictional character on a person either.

Thank you for further explaining your idea behind changing rare names. I’ve never thought of it that way. You have a point.

As to asking Miss Snark? I’ve only been reading it, it may be a while (if ever) before I feel I have anything to contribute on that blog.

i think it is all kind of cool i guess??

my character is a goth girl, and her name is zara. is that a suitable name.

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