38 World Building Questions for Creating Names

These world building prompts come from 3000 World Building Prompts, which you can get at Amazon. This section is focused on creating names.

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  1. Do people have only a given name and no surname?
  2. Do people have more than one surname?
  3. Are there multiple given names?
  4. Who bestows the given name? Parents? The state?
  5. Are there cultural restrictions on the given names or does the giver have total freedom to choose one?
  6. Are there any forbidden names and why?
  7. How are given names chosen? What criteria is used?
  8. Are they just given a number instead of a name?
  9. Do people ever change their given name?
  10. If so, is that official/legal?
  11. From what or whom is the surname derived?
  12. Does the state control surnames?
  13. Is any name changed when someone hits a milestone? Which name, which milestone, and why?
  14. If so, is it an insult to use their previous name?
  15. Which name comes first when spoken or written?
  16. How many syllables are given names?
  17. How many syllables are surnames?
  18. Are names so long that they are shortened in casual usage?
  19. Are apostrophes common? Why?
  20. Are hyphen common? Why?
  21. Are silent letters common?
  22. Do names, especially surnames, come from places?
  23. From occupations?
  24. From nicknames?
  25. From given names?
  26. Is it common to add “son” or “daughter” to produce a name like Jackson?
  27. Are there any common articles used in names?
  28. Are given names ever used as surnames?
  29. Is there a letter or combination of letters that, when added to a name, denote a relationship to someone (father, employer)?
  30. Is there someone (alive or dead) revered enough that their name is very common? What is that name?
  31. Are nicknames ever turned into actual names?
  32. Do compound names exist and from what are they derived?
  33. If so, how much meaning or information can people derive from those names?
  34. Are places ever named after people?
  35. Are places named after events?
  36. What suffixes exist (burg, ville)?
  37. What prefixes exist?
  38. Are there letter combinations that distinguish this naming style?
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