Onomatology is the study of the origin, history and use of names, and this page will look at meanings of characters' Taken Names.
Characters Introduced in Skulduggery Pleasant
Skulduggery Pleasant - 'Skulduggery' means underhand or dishonest behaviour, which may also refer to the fact that he has a skull for a head. However, it seems that he ironically chose this name before becoming a skeleton. 'Pleasant' simply means giving enjoyment.
Valkyrie Cain - The name "Valkyrie" comes from the Norse warrior women who guard Valhalla (she first heard the name after hearing "Rise of the Valkyries"). The name "Cain" came to her mind when Skulduggery claimed she had a "penchant for raising Cain", which means that she makes trouble. Cain was the first son of Adam and Eve, who murdered his brother. SPOILER ALERT: Cain foreshadows her having to murder her own sister as Cain did his brother.
Tanith Low - 'Tanith' is the name from Near Eastern mythology meaning 'serpent lady', and also the name of the Phoenician Goddess of love, fertility, the moon and the stars. Tanith took the name of the first person she killed. 'Low' has many, many meanings, for example it might mean unrefined, unscrupulous, or even relate to the low necklines of her clothes!
Ghastly Bespoke - 'Ghastly' means causing great horror or fear, whereas 'Bespoke' means made to order, and is usually used for clothing - which likely relates to his job as a tailor. The names encompass both parts of himself, the boxer and the tailor.
China Sorrows - China is a fine, white ceramic material, that is easily breakable and can be beautifully patterned and valuable. It also refers to the country, which gives her an exotic quality. Sorrow is a feeling of deep distress or upset, and this is what she can cause to others.
Mr Bliss - Bliss is a feeling of complete happiness, which is odd given that he was the most physically powerful man on the Earth.
Nefarian Serpine - Nefarian likely comes from 'nefarious', which means wicked or criminal. Serpine could mean serpent-like.
The White Cleaver - A cleaver is a tool used for cutting meat, and white refers to the colour of his clothes.
Vindick Leather - Vindick probably comes from the word 'vindictive', meaning showing a strong desire for revenge. Leather is both a material made from the skin of an animal, and 'to leather' means to beat someone.
Eachan Meritorious - Eachan is an Irish name meaning horseman. Meritorious contains the word 'merit', which means the quality of being particularly good or worthy.
Sagacious Tome - Sagacious is linked to the word 'sage', meaning profoundly wise, and a 'tome' is a heavy or scholarly book.
Mevolent - This name may come from the word 'malevolent', which means having or showing a wish to do evil to others.
Characters Introduced in Playing with Fire
Finbar Wrong - Finbar comes from the Irish for 'fair-headed one', and an anglicised variant of it in Barry. Wrong just means something that is mistaken or unjust.
Kenspeckle Grouse - A grouse is a type of game bird, but can it can also be used as a verb meaning to grumble, which fits how he treats Valkyrie and Skulduggery. Kenspeckle is a Scottish word meaning conspicuous.
Baron Vengeous - A Baron is a type of noble, as well as an important person in a specific industry. 'Vengeous' is probably derived from the word 'vengeance' which is a punishment inflicted for a wrong, similar to revenge.
Vaurien Scapegrace - The reason why Vaurien was chosen is unknown - although it is a type of dingy. 'Scapegrace' is an archaic word meaning a mischievous. It may also have been chosen due to it's similarity with 'scapegoat', a person blamed for the mistakes of others.
Billy-Ray Sanguine - Billy-Ray Cyrus is an American singer, songwriter and actor, and the name may have been chosen to give him an American feel. 'Sanguine' means positive and optimistically hopeful, which is odd considering he is a hitman and a villain. It's more likely that it refers to the Latin for blood. Sanguine is also a blood-red colour.
Dusk - Dusk is the darker stage of twilight, and he's a vampire...
Hokum Pete - Hokum can mean nonsense or unrealistic situations and dialogue in a film. Pete is short for Peter.
Hieronymus Deadfall - 'Hieronymus' is the Latin version of a name meaning 'with a sacred name', though a more modern variant of it is Jerome. 'Deadfall' is a type of North American trap.
Lightning Dave - Dave is short for David, and lighting probably refers to the fact that he has magical lightning powers...
Springheeled Jack - 'Spring-Heeled Jack' was a Victorian folk character, though he lived in the West Midlands, not London.
The Torment - 'Torment' is severe mental or physical suffering.
Thurid Guild - 'Thurid' is a Scandinavian girls' name, meaning peaceful thunder. It's unknown what Landy's motivation for choosing this is. A 'guild' is a mediaeval association of craftsmen and merchants.
Cothernus Ode - 'Cothurnus' is a type of dignified yet grave Greek tragedy, and an 'ode' is a type of classical poem meant to be sung.
Characters Introduced In The Faceless Ones
Fletcher Renn - 'Fletcher' is an Irish name meaning arrow. Renn is a surname meaning 'rule'.