I really have problems giving the military nation of my protagonist a unique, but also serious name that fits into the whole military nation thing. So here are my questions:

  • What makes a name sound unrealistic (or unserious/unbelievable)?

  • How do I prevent such dilemmas in the future?

I don't want to hear any names, I'd just like to see how I could get more ideas.


6 Answers 6


Hollywood and British Film & TV industry often chops existing names or provinces together

  • Buranda - African
  • Brungaria - Eastern European
  • Elbonia - Balkans
  • Corto Maltese - South American
  • Kyrzbekistan - Central Asia
  • Genovia - Europe

Check https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fictional_countries

There are also Country name generators online. Click till you find one you like.

Also try:

  1. pick a foreign-sounding word you like the sound of e.g. sorelle
  2. Change a consonant for effect e.g. germanic military use harsh sounds so "sorek"
  3. Change a vowel e.g. "sorok"
  4. Add nationalistic trimmings e.g. People's Democratic Republic of Sorok
  5. Check google for meanings in other languages
  • swear words
  • unintended meanings "pee cola"

Look at names of real countries in the region where you are setting your fictional country, and try to match the pattern.

For example, there are several real countries in south Asia with names ending in "-stan", such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Kazakhstan. So a name ending in "-stan" would sound plausible. Several countries in Europe have names ending "-ia", like Romania and Slovakia. Etc.

If you know the language, or with a little help from an on-line translator, you can come up with a name that means something. Unless this is a humor book or an allegory, I wouldn't use a name that means "evil tyrant" or something like that, a name no one is likely to actually give to their own country. More something like "Transylvania", meaning "land beyond the forest"; "Australia", from "Terra Australis" meaning "southern land"; or a Chinese friend once told me that "Taiwan" means "beautiful bay".

Try to match the "sound" of real country names. It occurs to me that a gotcha would be to have a letter in the name of your country that represents a sound not found in the languages of that region, like having an "L" sound in a country where people speak Chinese.


The technique I have heard of and sometimes used:

  1. Write a description of the location

"School where they practice glyph magic."

  1. Take the first letters and smush them into a word


  1. Chop out stuff and alter letters if necessary to make a practical name


  • 1
    That's a new one for me. I'd also consider translating that phrase (with spaces) into the target language then doing the chop stuff.
    – paulzag
    Nov 16, 2021 at 23:02

You can try this website https://www.fantasynamegenerators.com. They have a huge list of fictional name in different categories.


You can rely on the languages of the real world that are influenced by a certain culture your nation is based on. This is what a lot of fictional works that are based on medieval times do, or even those that are based on ancient China, Japan, etc. Always take inspiration from the real world because it never fails to help.


A lot of fictional nations take their cue from real world nations and use them to build off the culture and governments of those nations. It might be helpful to look at your region of the world and see how example nations in that region got their name as well as look at geographical features in the area. For every real nation, Wikipedia opens with an "Entymology" section in it's article that describes how that nation's name came to be in English (there are many nations that call themselves something other than the English version of their name. For example, Germans do not call Germany "Germany" but rather "Deutschland" in the German Language. The Chinese do not call the U.S.A. the Chinese words for United States of America, but rather the simple modern translation is "The Beautiful Country" due to the fact that the word "America" sounds similar to the Chinese word for Beauty. Historically, America was first known as "The Colorful Flag Country". And it isn't the only nation with such flattering names. It's actually Chinese tradition to name countries in a flattering manner.).

Formal Names

So most countries do not go by a formal name but an extended name that helps describe the government. For example the official name for "America" is "The United States of America" or "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland" or "The Federal Republic of Germany". These generally denote something about the government of the territory. Keep in mind, that these terms usually have specific meanings when parsed out. For example, "Federal" denotes how regional government is handled (typically a federation will be made of a bunch of smaller states joining together for a collective governance, but retaining some sovereign powers separate from the central government.). Republic denotes that the Head of State is not a monarch (Americans tend to think it means the same as a "Representative Democracy" as opposed to a Direct Democracy... it does not normally). A country with a monarch will be called a Kingdom.

Note that the adjectives need not be descriptive. In fact, there's a long standing joke that the more adjectives your formal name uses, the more likely your nation is not those things (Hello, Democratic Peoples Republic of North Korea. Or as someone else once noted, the Holy Roman Empire was neither "Holy", "Roman" or "Imperial").

There are a few nations that do not use any formal names, such as Canada (which is a Federal Constitutional Monarchy) and Japan (which is also a Federal Constitutional Monarchy... technically, the only extant Empire in the modern world, though Imperial Japan or Empire of Japan refer to a period between the Meiji Period and 1945 when the Emperor was more of an absolute monarch than a figurehead.)

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.