Game of Thrones Surnames



Starks and Martells

Knee deep into this season of Game of Thrones, some of our Grosvenor Room staff got to wondering about possible real life Starks, Targaryens, Lannisters, and the many other family names in the fantasy series.  Using the library’s surname dictionaries, this is what we found.

Baelish – A similar surname, Bayliss, means “officer of a court or justice.” This is certainly ironic since most GOT viewers are hoping that Lord Baelish faces justice this season for his numerous conniving misdeeds. (Go Stark girls!)

Clegane – Our limited search did not produce the name Clegane, but we did find Clegg which was the name of a hill.  That certainly fits the Cleganes.  Ser Gregor Clegane is known as “The Mountain,” and towers over his also enormous brother “The Hound.”

Lannister – A close match was, Leinster, found only in the Internet Surname Database.  The site states that the meaning comes from the French “Le Maistre” which means the Master.  Appropriate for anyone aiming for, or to keep, the Iron Throne.

Martell – This is a fairly common surname with the meaning “forceful person.” Nothing is better-suited to Ellaria Sand, Oberyn Martell’s paramour, except perhaps ‘vengeful.’ Another meaning is “hammer,” which reminds us of the state of Oberyn’s face (or lack thereof) after his battle with Ser Gregor Clegane.

Stark – Stark is described as “firm, unyielding, determined” by the Dictionary of American Family Names.  Add ‘just’ to that list and it would be the perfect representation of the Stark family.

Tarth – A similar name, Tartre, means “height.”  Suitable for the Lady Knight, Brienne of Tarth, who is close in height to the Hound.  (Also, who do you think, Jaime or Tormund?)

Tyrell – The name Tyrrell was found to mean “stubborn person…an animal which pulls the reins…” This makes us think of tenacious Lady Olenna Tyrell, who was the last Tyrell standing, and one of the puppet-masters of King Joffrey’s assassination. (R.I.P. Olenna, we’re glad you had the last word.)

We were disappointed that we found no names close to Targaryen in our brief search, but, if there were one, it would probably be ‘dragon’ don’t you think?  By the way, does anyone else want Drogon on the Iron Throne at the end of it all?  (What can we say, we’re animal lovers here.)

If any of you are interested in researching the meaning of surnames (fact or fictional), come visit us in the Grosvenor Room where we have numerous surname dictionaries.

geros ilas!, Game of Thrones fans.  ȳdra daor ivestragī se bantis dārys jiōragon ao.

 [English to Valyrian Translator –]




Bardsley, Charles Wareing.  A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames.  London: Oxford University Press, 1901.

Hanks, Patrick, Ed. Dictionary of American Family Names. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

Internet Surname Database

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