WikEd fancyquotesQuotesBug-silkHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extensionPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifierAnalysisPhoto linkImage LinksHaiku-wide-iconHaikuLaconic
File:19589913 jpg-r 760 x-f jpg-q x-20101115 115612 9151.jpg

There are several trends in naming bars and inns, but among the more interesting ones, particularly in High Fantasy, is the tendency to name it after an animal, specifically in the form of... "The Adjective Animal." Extra points for alliteration and/or a present participle (that is, an adjective derived from a verb by adding "-ing"). It often also involves colors: White Hart, Red (or Golden) Lion, White Horse, Black Bull.

There are several other naming conventions for pubs. Either describe an animal in a different grammatical form (such as The Hog's Head, from Harry Potter) or have "The Adjective Noun," without referring to an animal (such as The Salty Spitoon, from SpongeBob SquarePants) or linking two random nouns with a "&" (Elephant & Castle).

This is Older Than Print, going back to the European High Middle Ages. You obviously wanted your pub to have a name, so people can say "Join me at Alice's Tavern," instead of Bob's Tavern down the path. But since literacy wasn't that a big thing back then, just writing "Alice's Tavern" on a sign would likely lead to someone not knowing that you've got a pub here. Instead, you'd paint a picture of, say, a red duck on the sign, and then people could say "Meet me at the sign of the Red Duck."

Examples of Adjective Animal Alehouse include:

Comic Books

  • Asterix in Britain has the British inn "The Laughing Boar" ("Le Rieur Sanglier" in the original version, parodying English word order)

Disney Theme Parks

  • A sign for "The Green Dragon" can be seen in Disneyland's Mr. Toad's Wild Ride.



  • The "Prancing Pony" of Bree and the "Green Dragon" of Hobbiton in The Lord of the Rings.
  • Tortall, the setting of many of Tamora Pierce's books, has a couple. Most notable is The Dancing Dove, but there is also a mention of a place called The Jugged Hare in Squire. (Jugged Hare is an English dish; recipe
  • The Suzzled Parrot in Artemis Fowl.
  • Agatha Christie wrote a novel (set at an inn) entitled The Pale Horse.
  • The Silver Eel tavern in Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and The Gray Mouser stories.
  • Notably averted in Discworld - of the dozen or so drinking establishments on the Disc, the closest any of them gets to this is "The Mended Drum" (previously "The Broken Drum.")
    • There's one definite Discworld example: the Crimson Leech gets briefly mentioned at the very start of The Colour of Magic. It may be a parody of The Silver Eel example above, since it's frequented by Bravd the Hublander and the Weasel.
    • Back when it was the regular location of the Discworld Convention, the bar at the Hanover Hotel, Hinkley was the Snooty Fox. They've changed it since.
    • As a reference to this, the tavern in Hanoverian Hinckley in the Discworld fandom fanfic The Tale of Westala and Villtin is the Unobtrusive Beagle. The main tavern in Anorankhmar, meanwhile, is "The Plummeting Lemming".
  • There's a Gaiman story where the pub was called the Dirty Donkey, only the picture on the sign looked more like a Pale Horse.
  • Vortex, the penultimate book in the Sten Series, has "The Blue Bhor" although the fully sentient alien Bhor might take offense to being called an animal.
  • The Thieves' World series has the "Vulgar Unicorn." Several vague descriptions of the sign are given, most mentioning what it depicts as "physically improbable," or something.
  • The Blue Boar in Great Expectations
  • Steven Brust's Dragaera novels. Vlad sees two such sign on inns/pubs in Jhegaala and refers to them by their signage. However, the locals call the first pub by the owner's name.
  • The short story "The Most Precious of Treasures" by Desmond Warzel has The Talking Carp.
  • The Sherlock Holmes short story "The Adventure of the Priory School" has The Fighting Cock Inn.
  • The location of Arthur C. Clarke's Tales From The White Hart, based on Real Life meeting place for London sf fans, the White Horse.

Tabletop Games

  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • Ed Greenwood used this one a lot in the Forgotten Realms setting.
      • Volo's Guide to Waterdeep. Inns: The Galloping Minotaur, The Grey Serpent, The Raging Lion, The Rearing Hippocampus, The Wandering Wemic. Taverns: The Blue Mermaid, The Crawling Spider, The Friendly Flounder, The Grinning Lion, The Red-Eyed Owl, The Sleeping Snake, The Sleepy Sylph, The Spitting Cat, The Spouting Fish, The White Bull. Nightclub: The Smiling Siren. Tavern and Fest-hall: The Gentle Mermaid. Tavern, Inn and Fest-hall: The Blushing Mermaid.
      • Volo's Guide to Cormyr. Inns: The Dead Dragon, The Golden Unicorn, The Murdered Manticore, The Old Owlbear, The Red Stirge, The Roaring Griffon, The Snowbound Hound, The Wild Goose. Taverns: The Dancing Dragon, The Silvery Sembian Snail, The Sleeping Cat (restaurant)
      • Volo's Guide to the Dalelands. Inns: The Black Horse, The White Hart. Taverns: The Drunken Lion, The Thirsty Pig
      • Volo's Guide to the North. Inns: The Crowing Cockatrice, The Frost-Touched Frog, The Headless Troll, The Shining Serpent, The Sleeping Dragon, The Stone Stallion, The Whistling Stag, The White-Winged Griffon. Taverns: The Dancing Goat, The Dreaming Dragon, The Old Owl, The Sly Fox, The Talking Troll
      • Volo's Guide to the Sword Coast. Inns: The Black Boar, The Dire Dragon, The Happy Hippocampus, The Jaded Unicorn, The Old Talking Ox, The Raging Lion (in Scornubel), The Running Stag, The Storm Griffin, The Wandering Wyvern, The Worried Wyvern. Taverns: The Dancing Bear, The Happy Cow, The Scarlet Stag
      • Forgotten Realms Adventures (those that aren't in the supplements above). Inns: Splurging Sturgeon, Black Bear, The Bloody Boar, The Black Cockerel, The Blue Cow, The Black Viper, The Roaring Lion, The Weeping Wyvern, The Spitting Cockatrice, The Rising Raven. Taverns: Dancing Dragon, The Stranded Fish (burnt out), The Silly Satyr, The Tattooed Troglodyte, The Empty Fish, The Roaring Dragon. Inn and tavern: The Blushing Mermaid (Baldur's Gate), The Weeping Unicorn, The Black Stag, The Naughty Nixie
    • Module A3 Assault on the Aerie of the Slave Lords. The city of Suderham had several examples. Taverns: Waltzing Werebear, Grimacing Gargoyle. Gambling Hall: Bouncing Bugbear. House of Ill Repute: The Wild Cat.
    • Module I12 Egg of the Phoenix. The city of Fairway had the Red Wyvern Inn.
    • Module L1 The Secret of Bone Hill. The Dying Minotaur Inn can be found in the city of Restenford in the Lendore Isles, in the Greyhawk setting.
  • The Red Dragon Inn (a board game about drinking games, which can trivially be turned into a Drinking Game itself).
  • Shadowrun supplement Native American Nations Vol. 2, adventure "Eye of the Eagle". The city of Kemano in the Tsimshian Nation has a tavern called The Randy Sasquatch.
  • The Judges Guild supplement City State of the Invincible Overlord (Revised) had quite a few of them.
    • Inns: Blue Dolphin, Bonny Black Bear, Silver Eel, Golden Lamprey, Green Goblin, Crummy Crab, Sea Nymph
    • Taverns: Singing Squid, Flipping Frog, Prancing Ki-Rin Saloon, Wild Boar, Dewy Dryad
  • The Earthdawn main rules had a picture of the signboard of an inn called "The Gilded Toad".
  • Dark Dungeon RPG supplement Samaris, Island of Adventure. The Green Dragon Inn can be found in the city of Southport.


Video Games

Web Comics

Western Animation

Real Life/Truth in Television

  • The Dirty Duck is a well-known pub in Stratford-upon-Avon where actors from RSC productions traditionally can be found hanging out after a performance.
  • The Laughing Lion is a restaurant located in Dover, New Jersey.
  • Red Lobster would likely count, since lobsters and crabs aren't naturally red.
  • The Red Lion was actually an example in the description. It's also a chain of hotels in Real Life.
    • The Red Lion is, or at least used to be, the most common real-life pub name in England.
  • Some unusual ones found online:
    • The Bleeding Wolf, Hale, Altrincham, Cheshire
    • Drunken Duck, Hawkshead, Cumbria
    • Mad Dog, Odell, Bedfordshire
    • The Sociable Plover - Portsmouth
  • The Horny Bull is a restaurant/cafe/bar in Tauranga, New Zealand.
  • The Winking Lizard is a tavern in Northeast Ohio.


  1. In this case, it is.
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.