Posted by: Jess Riley | November 11, 2008

Theme Week Tauren: What’s In A Name

First of all, I just want to make a point:

It really bothers me that such a vast number of Tauren have a name like AdjectiveHoof or NounHoof. There are words other than Hoof, people! Chaser! Runner! Horn! Please, that’s a typical format for a Tauren name, but you are free to spice it up a little!

Alright, that said – and I just had to get that out of the way – I wanted to talk about naming traditions. I don’t know about many of you, but personally, the way I tend to name a new character is to sit and hit ‘randomize’ until I find something that a) I like, b) suits the character and c) isn’t already taken. For the most part, you’d probably prefer to go a little more in-depth with your naming, and that’s fine. My way entirely plays off my poor knowledge of lore in some ways – if I’m not sure about the lore behind it, a randomized name can’t go too far wrong.

But even though my approach is… well, bordering on lazy, to say the least, names are important. Individual names, naming traditions, and so on. We know this in the real world. A child was (relatively) recently taken into state custody in New Zealand so they could enforce a name change, her doting parents having named her Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii.

You can’t tell me that doesn’t have an effect on a kid. (That’s also my excuse next time I get picked up on a name violation for calling my character Deskchair; with parents like that, can you guarantee no one on Azeroth would call their kid Deskchair? But I digress.).

More to the point, more normal names can have an effect on a person – someone with the same name as a role model of theirs may feel they have a lot to live up to, for instance, or people may feel compelled to pass on some kind of tradition in naming (a common Catholic one is that female children should have the middle name ‘Mary’ or ‘Maria’).

So how do the Tauren, in specific, feel about names? This is what WoWWiki tells us.

Tauren have several names. They receive a name at birth and another during a ceremony to celebrate reaching adulthood. This adult name describes some event in their lives or some notable individual characteristic … A tauren may also acquire a third name that he uses when dealing with outsiders.

Clearly, names are important to the Tauren. What this means is that if you’re creating an adult tauren, you have two main choices – the ‘third name’ mentioned above, that they use when dealing with outsiders, or the ceremonially given adult name describing some part of their life. Obviously, if you’re choosing the latter, you have to give some thought to why they have that name. What did they do to earn that name? There’s bound to be some story behind it, or some visible sign to explain it – what is it? Is it a less than flattering name? What do they think of that?

If they haven’t reached adulthood yet (and I’m getting conflicting information from my sources on when a tauren reaches adulthood, so I’ll stay quiet on the topic for now), they’ll obviously have quite a different name. Do they have some kind of expectation of what their adult name will be? Do they have a hope of what it might be? Are they trying to prove themselves so they can have an especially cool and awesome name?

These are all things about names that, I’ll be frank, you can’t get just from hitting Randomize. Of course, you can hit Randomize and then make something up, but it’s probably better if you don’t.

I need to take my own advice here, I’ll grant.



  1. To me, when it comes to people using hoof (as well as totem) in the last name of a tauren a lot, can be like how Smith is a common last name in our world. Sure its not very original or unique, but like in our world where there are very common first & last names; the same be true for Azeroth. So it really be understandable to see lots of tauren with hoof (or totem) in their last name as well as to commonly see a lot of tauren with their tribes name too. Even though most people probably do such because they are lazy lol.

    As for their names. In the WoWWiki article, it also suggested that a tauren adult only takes a second name if they had done anything to impress the elders of their tribe. If this is true, then an adult tauren could easily keep the name of his family/tribe until eventually doing something to justify a change. Which could never happen, if their life was relatively uneventful & uninteresting.

  2. Funny! I was just thinking the same thing lately. Seems more and more Shu’halo RPers are coming out of the woodwork, and most have the same naming pattern you’ve mentioned here.

    I thought I’d share how I chose Tauren names. Obviously, the Tauren’s closest parallel culture to our world would be that of the Native Americans. I researched Native American names with little success, but then I turned to Native American gods and goddesses. There are so many to choose from! For my main, a restoration druid, I chose Nakawe. She is the earth goddess of the Huchol tribe. Fitting, I think!

    I highly recommend this method! There is so much to choose from and you can capture the Shu’halo “feel” while shying away from hooves!

  3. I generally use the “Randomize button” approach too.

    But… I… don’t… role-play?


  4. “DeskChair” not found in Azeroth? Why don’t you know it is very intimidating in the Common Tongue?

  5. OK, regarding the naming paragraph on WoW Wiki. Here’s the tricky bit.

    The language of the tauren is often harsh and low sounding, which is reflected in the names of their children. The last name of a tauren is usually a family name, handed down through the generations. If the tauren has performed some act that has made an impression on the elders of his tribe, however, he may choose to take on his own last name to commemorate that act. Tauren have several names. They receive a name at birth and another during a ceremony to celebrate reaching adulthood. This adult name describes some event in their lives or some notable individual characteristic.

    Right. The problem here is that at the most basic reading of each sentence individually, these two statements are in conflict. The first part suggests Tauren get two names; the first is fixed but the second can be changed if you perform some mighty deed. Alex has basically argued for this one in toto; he’s interpreted the second statement as basically being a slightly different rewording of the first.

    Jess has intepretted them together. She’s seeing this as a three part process: You get two names when born. As an adult, your first name changes to something new, marking you as an adult, and if you do something really impressive, you then get to change your last name as well. (Also, you get a nickname for outsiders.)

    Both are fair interpretations, but Jess’s makes better sense of the whole… except for one thing.

    I can’t for the life of me find the citing data for the second claim. The source is allegedly the WoW RPG, pages 52 and 53, but that part of the book is about the Forsaken!

    Anyone want to chime in? Original article here.

  6. Here is the exact entry from the Dungeons & Dragons Warcraft The Roleplaying Game book: (Page 52/53)

    Tauren have several names. They receive a name at birth and another during a ceremony to celebrate reaching adulthood. This adult name describes some event in their lives or some notable individual characteristic: for instance, Blackhid, Earthborn, Halfhorn, Hidemaker, Riverwatcher, Scar, Splithoof, Stormchaser, or Windrunner. A tauren may also acquire a third name that he uses when dealing with outsiders.

    As for the other part that caused confusion. That is from a book I do not have so I cannot confirm or deny. But I think, it more so is a rehash of the entry above.

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