15 May 2019

What to do with the first name Khaleesi, the heroine who turns out to be a ruthless ruler?

"Not a Queen, a Khaleesi" #ForTheThrone Clip | Game of Thrones | Season 1 (YouTube)

Parents give their children beautiful names. These can be based on forms and sounds, but also on meanings or after an admired person. That also happened with Khaleesi (Daenerys Targaryen's Dothraki title, comparable to queen) from Game of Thrones, a made up name that had never been given to children before. Then you can be certain that there is a namesake. And that happened. Hundreds of girls in America were named Khaleesi after 2011 and the name was also given a number of times in the Netherlands since then. The name Daenerys has also been given in the Netherlands a few times.

But how do parents feel now that the character of Khaleesi in the show turns into that of a ruthless ruler? Maybe unfortunate, but the girls will probably not face much trouble from it. The association with the meaning of a first name or an inspiring namesake is usually not that strong, if we even know it at all. What is going to happen is that few parents will now name a child after Khaleesi. That also happened in the Netherlands with the names Volkert and Joran. 

Gerrit Bloothooft
Dr. ir. Gerrit Bloothooft

The lecturer/researcher Gerrit Bloothooft (1952) has a professional interest in onomastics (the study of names), for which he worked with the Meertens Institute of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences to become the first person to fully map the first names in the Netherlands based on information from the municipal registries.