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I want to get a job as someone who names kitchen appliances. 'Toaster', 'refrigerator', 'blender' ... all you do is say what the shit does, and add "er". I wanna work for the Kitchen Appliance Naming Institute:

"Hey, what does that do?"

"It keeps shit fresh."

"Well, that's a 'fresher'. ... I'm going on break!"

The ability to deduce the name of a creature or device by examining it.

It is not in and of itself strange that a person would come up with a name for the strange alien monster they come across. What makes NameDar strange is that whatever name the observer comes up with -- be he a scientist, soldier, or six year old child, it will turn out that this actually is the monster's name, and it will catch on universally.

This is facilitated by the fact that such a name will inevitably reflect some aspect of what the monster does or what it looks like -- though it might seem strange that an alien might name itself after an Earth creature it bears a passing resemblance to. Also, from a PR standpoint, as an alien race, calling yourself "The Brainsuckuloids" is going to make it difficult for you to convince any passing humans that you're not interested in sucking out their brains -- especially if you do come from the planet Brainsuckulus IV.

At times, we may propose this is all the result of the Translation Convention, though the sorts of shows which do this generally haven't thought it all the way through.

This is at least Older Than Radio: Mark Twain's Excerpts From Adam's Diary depicts Eve walking around, intuitively naming things based on what they look like; she named Niagara Falls "Niagara Falls" because it looked like Niagara Falls.

When it turns out the nickname isn't the real name after all, it may lead to My Name Is Not Durwood. On the other hand, characters independently deducing a particularly unlikely name may be played for comedy via Strange Minds Think Alike. Also related to Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep" (where everyone calls the character by profession because they don't know his name). It may turn out that His Name Really Is "Barkeep".

Examples of NameDar include:


Comic Books

  • In Elf Quest, Cutter names the oasis the wolfriders arrive at early on 'Sorrow's End'. Turns out, that's exactly what the elves living there call it as well...
  • Averted in an Invincible crossover with the Marvel universe. Invincible is teleported to different realities (against his will) and encounter Batman and Spiderman. So when the later introduce him to the Avengers, he tries (and fails) to deduce their names, going with "Robot man, Claw Man, Flag Man, Fabio Man, Bat-Woman and, uh… Black Man."

Film

  • The Graboids and other creatures from Tremors and its various spinoffs.

Literature

  • In The Last of the Sky Pirates in The Edge Chronicles, Rook sees some creatures and names them Snickets. In The Stone Pilot, a character who lost contact with the outside world before Rook was even born uses the word.
  • Lampshaded: SF author George Alec Effinger's character "Maureen Birnbaum, Barbarian Swordsperson" posits (in a narrated aside) that the Japanese government keeps a list of names to apply to new Kaiju, as they turn up, just like weather bureaus keep for hurricanes.
  • The Space Whale in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy names the wind, his tail, and the ground.

Live Action Television

  • Extremely common in Power Rangers. Sometimes, this can be justified (as in Power Rangers SPD, where the alien monsters were all wanted criminals with outstanding warrants), but usually, it appears that Zordon, Dimitria, DECA, or whoever is acting as Mission Control can literally deduce the names of things by scanning them. (Some fans theorize that these characters have met the monsters before as part of their personal backstories, but as most of the monsters were created on the spot at the beginning of the episode, this seems unlikely.)
    • In the case of MMPR, Zordon may know who some or all of the monsters are because Rita has used them before. Most notably, the Knasty Knight.
  • Doctor Who did this from time to time.
    • The Silurians call themselves by that name, despite the fact that "Silurian" is an English word, and a total misnomer, as it refers to a geological period long before their race developed. Their cousins the Sea Devils are another example. Both races started using the names in a later story in which they both appeared (in the same episode, the Doctor mentions the inaccuracy of "Silurian").
      • In the Doctor Who Expanded Universe the prefered term is "Earth Reptiles". Steven Moffat has responded to people asking "Are the Silurians coming back?" with "They're not called Silurians, ask the right question."
    • Likewise, the Ice Warriors are often cited in this respect. (Especially as their very name alerts enemies to the fact that they are not big fans of heat. More than one critic has pointed out that had they called themselves "Fire Warriors", no one would have ever thwarted their plans.)
    • For that matter, in the first episode of the series, Susan claims that the name "TARDIS" is one that she'd made up on the spot based on how the machine works, but later we find that it has become the universally accepted name for such machines. (This has prompted a number of fan theories about Susan's past.) When asked about this, one writer simply said "She was a very influential young lady."
    • Mocked in "Dalek", where Henry van Statten has named a Dalek "Metaltron".
    • In "Love and Monsters", where the Abzorbaloff deliberately adopts the name the humans come up with for it because it likes the sound. The Doctor later comes up with the same name on the third try.
      • Captain Jack's Monster File for the Slitheen shows that they are related to the Abzorbalovian Rebels.
    • In "The Waters of Mars," The Virus originally introduced itself to the Doctor as "the Flood." This scene was cut, but the name was used a few times in the episode anyway. This is a mild example, though, since "the Flood" is a fairly obvious name for the alien in question.
    • Played for laughs in "The Time of Angels":

  The Doctor: They're not stabilisers! They're boring-ers! Blue boring-ers!

  • Averted by the 2007 Flash Gordon; Dr. Zarkov coins the term "rift blaster" for the device the Mongonians use to cross between Earth and Mongo. While Flash and Dale adopt the term, the Mongonians continue to use their own name for the device.
  • Upon arriving at the city of Atlantis, there's some argument about whether to call the ships they find, which are clearly intended to go through the Stargate, "Puddle Jumpers" or "Gate Ships." The former is adopted by the Atlantis expedition, but one episode reveals that "Gate Ship" is what the original Atlanteans called them (through Translation Convention), and the whole thing's become something of a running gag since.
    • And the "life-signs detector". It's accurate, sure, but it hardly rolls off the tongue. Not to mention its acronym.
  • Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future: In a flashback, Doctor Stuart Power identifies Soaron on first sight as a "BioDredd". Given that the BioDredds are based in part on his own research, it's reasonable that he would know what that class of being was called. What makes somewhat less sense is that "BioDredd" is apparently a scientific term with a rigorously-defined taxonomic definition for that type of creature, possibly even the name Doctor Power himself came up with in his plans to construct peaceful robotic helpers.

Tabletop Games

  • In In Nomine, a Seraph in service to the Archangel Yves automatically learns the true name of any sapient being it touches, as well as the correct name of any object it handles.

Toys

  • Transformers, to a degree, are guilty of this. While nobody's ever guessed their names, most seem strangely appropriate once known (such as a character with the power to turn invisible being named Mirage). To be fair, the Transformers themselves have been known to change their names to match when they get new forms and abilities.
    • While the re-naming is true of Beast Wars, the original G1 cartoon & comic had some Fridge Logic when one considers that Bumblebee was called that before coming to Earth. At the time the Transformers had never met organic life forms (which is why Teleetraan 1 confuses cars and planes as the dominant lifeforms) so the Transformers do not even have a concept of what is a Bumblebee!
      • In fact, while the oldest known bees date to the Cretaceous age, the Bombus genus, to which bumblebees belong only dates back 35 million years. In some versions of the Transformers universe, Bumblebee predates actual bumblebees.

Video Games

  • Chrono Trigger: The main characters come up with "Gates", a word used across time and space for the same things, on their own. Possibly averted by the fact that some Entity might be feeding them all their lines.
    • On a related note, Ayla calles Lavos by its correct name because in her language "la vos" means "big fire" (Lavos came down as a giant fireball in her time). The term probably really originated from her, as she is the chief of the only major human civilization at the time.
      • Actually that is exactly what happened. Thanks to the mind boggling confusion that is time travel, there is a perfectly acceptable explanation as to why the name is mentioned in 1999, but never in between, but this page is not for explaining such things.
  • Subverted in Super Robot Wars: Original Generation when they first come in contact with the Inspectors. Gilliam guesses they are the 'Guests'... but the leader of the Inspectors simply goes "Oh, you've heard of those guys? Well, call us the Inspectors." Inspector and Guests turn out to be the names of two factions from the same star system. Also, earlier on was averted by the Balmarians, who are called 'Aerogators' by humans. But they don't converse enough with humans to ever hear their codename...
  • Diablo has an old man who actually works as the resident Namedar: his job is to identify any unknown item you pick up so you can sell it.
    • Under the hood, an object's name in Diablo is calculated as a function of its various attributes (for example, the suffix "of the Tiger" refers to a specific attack modifier), so in the model world of the game, Namedar is a real physical law, and names following the pattern will be automatically deduced for, say, novel items created using a game editor.
  • Spoofed in Simon the Sorcerer. Early in the game you have to gain the assistance of a group of wizards, but they insist they're not wizards (so they won't have to do anything). Most sensible comments on why they must be wizards is deflected; the proper choice is to tell them that the text says "wizards" when you drag the pointer over them.
  • In Touhou, Rinnosuke's ability tells him the name and function of any object just by looking at it. This is pretty useful, seeing as he deals in objects from the outside world that most anyone else in Gensokyo wouldn't know about. Unfortunately, the info isn't perfect; his power doesn't tell him how to work the danged things, or where to find fuel for them, etc. For example: his power told him that an iPod can "store and play a lot of music", but he has no clue how to store music or make it play (and he doesn't know how to use a computer without shorting them, so he's SOL anyway). And he thought a Game Boy was an Artifact of Doom because his power told him that it "Controls everything; making people fight, starting wars, and possibly even destroying worlds". What it neglected to tell him is that all the stuff it controls is imaginary.
  • In Kid Icarus: Uprising, Palutena refers to most enemies by name when they appear. The trope is lampshaded and jistified once she starts naming Aurum enemies.

 Palutena: Well, you can't actually pronounce Aurum names so... I took a few liberties.

Web Comics

  • Spoofed in 8-bit Theater: Black Mage tells the other Light Warriors about his encounter with a Dark God who gave him his class change. The others don't believe him and ask for the Dark God's name as proof. Unfortunately, said God didn't state his name so Black Mage makes up the name "Darko, Dark God of the Dark" on the spot.
  • This It's Walky! strip. "Whenever we mention we're from the planet Alien, we get the strangest looks!"

Western Animation

  • Futurama: Subverted in "The Day the Earth Stood Stupid", Nibbler's race is called the Nibblonians and the latter refer to him as "Lord Nibbler", but when Leela notes the "coincidence", they reply saying they only use the name for her protection as "in the time it would take to pronounce one letter of his true name, a trillion cosmoses would flare into existence and sink into eternal night"
  • Bloo of Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends has managed to successfully pull this off more than once.
  • This is explicitly the talent of one of the characters from Toad Patrol. As the "Giver of Names", he has the innate ability to figure out what to call anything.

Real Life

  • Two groups of physicists working independently in 1940, one at Berkeley, and one at Cambridge University, both did theoretical work finding reactions that would produce two new elements after uranium. Independently, both groups had decided to call these elements neptunium and plutonium. Not too amazing a coincidence when you consider the fact that Uranium us named for Uranus, and the next two planets in line are Neptune and Pluto (the latter still having been a planet at the time).
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