Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Quill and Gamora

The 'Guardians of the Galaxy' - Drax (Dave Bautista), Gamora (Zoe Saldana),
Quill "Star Man" (Chris Pratt), Groot (Vin Diesel) & Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper)

You may have seen recently the trailer for the upcoming latest Marvel movie adaptation, 'Guardians of the Galaxy'. It looks like it's going to be a very fun and cheeky almost anti-hero superhero movie (although having not read the comics it's based on, I'm not sure how accurate that actually is). When watching the trailer though, like many of us name enthusiasts I found myself oohing and ahhing at the names just as much as the action and special effects.

And there are some great character names in this! Nebula, Rocket, Drax, Ronan, Taneleer, Meredith, Korath, Rhomann and Yondu - such a great mix of different, "spacey" and futuristic sounding names. But the two that struck me the most were Quill and Gamora, which I think are most like to get a small boost in popularity when this movie is released.

Quill is actually the surname of main character Peter Quill, a.k.a. Star Lord, played by Chris Pratt. Quill (pronounced KWIL) is a pretty cool sounding word name. Its a great name if you love writing. I love that it evokes images of an old fashioned time when people wrote with feather quills and inkwells, yet also feels kind of futuristic. That's possibly because Q names aren't very popular - it's a good example of the "scrabble effect".

This is not the only character named Quill to grace our screens in recent years. One of the 'Twilight' werewolves was Quil Ateara, and Quill was an Australian love interest introduced to the 'Luann' comic strip in 2009. These examples are all males, but Quill feels like it could easily be a unisex name like Quinn. It's never charted for either in the U.S.

There's a few different given meanings for Quill, which include:

  • It is an English name meaning 'feather'
  • It's a diminutive of Irish name Quillan (pronounced KILL-an) meaning 'lion cub';
  • It's an anglicised version of Gaelic surname O'Cuill, meaning 'descendant of Coll'
  • It's a diminutive of English occupational name for a scribe or writer, Quiller 

On the other hand, there is very little history behind the name Gamora. It has never charted in the U.S, which isn't to say it is never used as a first name, just that it has never been used more than five times in one year. It seems it is more likely you'll see Gamora as a middle or surname.

Gamora's resemblance to the biblical city of Gomorrah pretty much guarantees that this will never be a widely used name. The tale of the fall of Sodom and Gomorrah means it is permanently associated with unbridled sin, and while Gamora is not spelled the same, phonetically it's far too close for comfort.

Which is a real shame. Gamora both looks and sounds pretty enough to be an attractive name. I was convinced I had heard it before as the name of a planet or star, but it seems that it was largely created for this character by Jim Starlin for her first appearance in 'Strange Tales #180' in 1975.

But if anyone can get a name off the ground it's the beautiful Zoe Saldana, who plays Gamora in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'. She's starting to build a solid reputation playing smart, sexy, brave, dangerous and exotic characters, a winning combination. Zoe has put the names Neytiri and Cataleya on the charts in recent years - perhaps her magic touch will work for Gamora too.

Both have great potential - old world yet futuristic sounding, fresh and spunky. And the movie will likley only help with this perception, especially if it's turns out to be as successful as the promoters are hoping (it's not even out for another five months yet!) What do you think - are Quill and Gamora be your picks for breakout names inspired by 'Guardians of the Galaxy'?


  1. Quill is fantastic, and seems very usable for either sex.

    Gamora just doesn't sound pretty to me, and its similarity to Gomorrah and gonorrhoea can't possibly help. I'll be interested to see how much use it gets.

    1. You think of gonorrhea when you hear the nme Gamora? Interesting.