The Hunger Names

Sorry it’s a little lopsided…

I finally read the Hunger Games!  Never seen the movie, so besides what I’ve gleaned from the media and friends, I had a chance to look at the series with fresh eyes.  I wasn’t really interested in it before (though Hunger Games Minecraft servers were always fun!), but happened upon a free copy and decided to read it for the names.  All in all, the book was enjoyable, though I would have liked more background info about Panem…maybe that will happen in later books.  I’m glad I didn’t read it when it was first popular because frankly, I absolutely hated The Giver as a teenager.  Appreciation of the dystopian genre didn’t manifest until a couple years ago, when I finally read Orwell.  Now I love the stuff!  Hmm…maybe I should afford The Giver another chance.

Anyway, it’s not my intention to write a book review.  Instead, how about a commentary on the names? 

Plant Names:

Katniss “Catnip” – According to the character Katniss, the katniss is a type of flower with an edible root.  Indeed, it’s a real plant, also called Sagittaria or (fittingly) Arrowhead.   Last year, 30 girls were named Katniss in the U.S.



Primrose “Prim”- A sweet floral name for a sweet disposition.  50 American girls were named Primrose last year, but it’s more distinctly British.  According the newly-released English and Welsh data, she ranks #259 there.

Buttercup – OK, I know this was the cat’s name, but…”as you wish?”

Rue: “Small yellow flower” (p. 99). 

Clove – You probably won’t find this as anyone’s name, though I wonder if anyone’s tried it as a nickname for Clover


Effie – Another adorable, mostly British name.  53 girls were named Effie in the U.S. last year, and she ranks #343 in the U.K.  In case you’re wondering, this is traditionally short for Euphemia.

Madge – Traditionally a nickname for Margaret, but could also work as a nickname for Talmadge.  Adorable, but I’m unsure if this will ever catch on again.  The last time this was in the top 1000 was in the 1950s.

Ancient Roman/Latin Names: (Wow, there are a lot of these!)

Venia – Possible nickname for Venetia

Flavius – Would love to see Flavius gain traction! 

Octavia – 173 girls.  Rare and beautiful. 

Cinna – I thought maybe this was a nickname for Cinnamon, but it looks like it may date to Rome (and Shakespeare). 

Portia – 42 girls.  Add stylist to the list of associations besides Porsche and Portia di Rossi!

Caesar – 91 boys.  I bet we could turn Peeta into croutons for the salad. 

Titus – The only men’s name on this list that’s popular in the U.S.  Rank: #281. 

Claudius – Surprisingly none of these in the data. 

Cato – 23 boys.  I wonder how many of these are named after the Cato Institute? 


Gale (m) – Huh.  I was seriously expecting to find this as a women’s name in the 2015 data, but the only known Gales are indeed male.  Must be the series’ influence…anyway, 8 boys were named Gale last year. 

Haymitch – Sounds like a lot like Hamish. 

Peeta – Can I get some hummus with that? 

Johanna – Current rank: #541

Delly Sandwich shop!  Or nickname for Cordelia

Atala – Atari?

Thresh – Funny, he’s from the agriculture district and threshing is an agricultural practice. 

Glimmer – “Ugh, the names people in District 1 give their children are so ridiculous.”  (-Katniss, page 182).  I’m not one to call names ridiculous, but you have to admit the quote is hilarious!

Rooba – Reminds me of Roombas

Greasy Sae – I wouldn’t ever want to be called Greasy, though Sae can make a cute nickname for Sarah or Sadie 8 girls were named Sae in the U.S. last year.

And, that’s a wrap of my Hunger Names commentary (at least, until I read the next two books!).  Encountering all those Roman names is absolutely fantastic, and I always love flower names. 

Thoughts, anyone? 

3 thoughts on “The Hunger Names

  1. Surprised I didn’t see “Snow” on here, though that name could be more influenced by the fairy tale or the weather. Of course, then there’s the matter of his first name– “Coriolanus”. Should be fun!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You’ll find in YA novels that names are almost blatantly and explicitly tied into strengthening character associations. It’s a heavy-handed tactic that was once subtle and clever and is now like bludgeoning you over the head with ‘this is the hero and s/he is supposed to be particularly x’. I remember in my YA Lit classes back in college and grad school we would spend the first couple days just discussing the significance of the names. So it’s definitely relevant that you would notice the names and should pay attention to them as you continue with the series. I really liked the first novel and I look forward to hearing what you think of the next two.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post, I love the added information. I always thought Peeta sounded like Peter. Some other names also sound like names we are used to, like Haymitch, but maybe the fictional people forgot their origins and spelling. Octavia is also the name of a Skoda (car) model in Europe.

    Liked by 1 person

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