Sunday, June 16, 2013


It seems like I'm always suggesting eccentric animal names.

Turtle is derived from the French word torue, and it means the same thing. This is not the same etymology as the "turtle" in turtledove. That comes from the Latin turtur, which supposedly replicates the bird's call.

Turtles are the world's most ancient reptile species. The earliest known turtles date back to 220 million years ago. They are unique because of their shells which is attached to their ribs and backbone. The largest turtles are aquatic like the leatherback sea turtle.

In many cultures around the world, turtles represent longevity and wisdom. They are associated with water, the moon, time, immortality, and Mother Earth. In Ancient Egyptian mythology the turtle is connected to Set, and so they were the enemies of the sun god Ra. In Ancient Greek/Roman mythology they were connected to, oddly enough, Aphrodite/Venus. Several myths state that the earth rests on the back of a turtle. In alchemy, the turtle symbolizes chaos.

Turtle has never been a common name in the United States. The only instance that I can recall in which Turtle was used as a name was in the novel Wicked by Gregory Maguire. There is a small but key character called Turtle Heart. The Native Americans also used it in their names, but of course it would have been in their own languages.

The other unusual animal name I profiled recently was Otter. Otter has the benefit of there currently being a lot of popular "-er" names. There's nothing that sounds like Turtle except for Myrtle, which isn't fashionable at the moment. Some names for animals can become names for people if they're charismatic enough. But this isn't a cute and cuddly animal (like Bunny or Kitty), nor is it a big and strong animal (like Tiger). Therefore Turtle might be a little daffy. Then again, few years ago I said the same thing about Bear.

Perhaps it might be more reasonable to find turtle-related names. I guess I know what my next Spirit Animal name round up will be.


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  1. I actually like the name Turtle. It reminds me of a character in Ellen Raskin's The Westing Game, which was a very enjoyable read :) Although the name was a a nickname rather than the actual name of one of the female characters. Still, I really do like the name, and everything the turtle seems to represent.

  2. Turtle is actually really cute ... it does rather sound like the name parents give an unborn baby before they know what it's real name is going to be, though.


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