Final Fantasy Monster Names

Etymology of Final Fantasy Monsters

Welcome back to my ongoing series on Final Fantasy names! Now it's time to tackle monsters and bosses.

Most of these appear in multiple Final Fantasy titles, so as with the summons names, I'm going to list monsters alphabetically. But first, let's deal with a few bosses!

This is of course not an exhaustive list of EVERY Final Fantasy monster. Rather, it's a list of all the Final Fantasy monster names for which I've found a real-world myth or possible meaning.

Final Fantasy Boss Names

Why Do The Big Ones Always Have WINGS?!

Abadon (FF VIII): Abaddon, "The Destroyer" in the New Testament.

Amon (FFIII): Amun/Amon is the Egyptian sun-god (usually known as Amun-Ra: ancient Egypt had many extremely local gods which merged as the country unified).

Anavtapta Warmech (FFXIII): In Buddhism, Anavtapta is the name of a mythical lake, origin of the Ganges, Yellow River, Indus and other prominent rivers. It gave its name to a powerful dragon living in the lake.

Aranea (FFX-2): Latin for "spider" (although this monster looks rather crablike).

Asteroth (FF II): Astaroth is a prince of Hell in Kabbalistic writings. His name probably goes back to the Phoenician goddess Astarte.

Azi Dahaka (FFX-2): demon from Iranian folklore.

Azulmagia (FF V): "Blue magic" in Spanish, a warning about what he's going to throw at (or learn from) you.

Baigan (FFIV): This minor boss has a name that means "eggplant" in Hindi. Well, he is purple.

Barbariccia, Cagnazzo, Calcabrina, Rubicante and Scarmiglione (FFIV) are demons of Hell in Canto XXII of Dante's Divine Comedy.

Beelzebub (FFII): "Lord of the flies," a demon-name that crops up a few places in the Bible, probably based on Baal, a god of the Philistines.

Byblos (FFV): Byblos is an ancient Phoenician port, but it gave its name to Greek Biblos, "book," which is how the monster's name is spelled in some releases of the game. All the monsters in this part of FFV are possessed books, illuminated bestiaries whose illustrations come to life and thwack you!

Geosgaeno (FFX): Can't quite work out the derivation, but apparently from "geo" and "gaia" -- "earth" related prefixes in Greek. That's consistent with its Stone Punch / Petrify attacks.

Daedalus (FF XII): Mythical Greek craftsman and inventor, architect of the labyrinth on Crete, he's one of those annoying headless monsters in FFXII that you have to defeat to enter the labyrinthine Giruvegan.

Echidna (FF III): Echidna is a she-dragon in Greek mythology.

Enkidu (FF V, IX,XIII): Wild man, best friend of Gilgamesh in the ancient Sumerian epic.

Enlil (FFXIII): Sumerian god of wind and storms, equivalent of Zeus. Here's a great page on Enlil and Enki (god of earth; Enkidu means "enki's creation".)

Erebus (FF VI): "Deep Darkness, Shadow" - son of Chaos in Greek mythology, personification of part of the underworld and later used as a name for Hell.

Forza (FFV): "strength, force" in Italian. Husband of "Magissa" in the game.

Geryon (FF): A giant Hercules had to defeat as one of his twelve labors in Greek mythology.

Gilgamesh (FFV onward) is a pesky, often multi-armed sword collector and recurring boss in FF, evolving an in-house mythology and style that differs from the Sumerian Hercules-like hero of the 2500BC epic Gilgamesh.

Halicarnassos (FF V): A mountain in Greece. FFV seems to be grabbing names from geography (see: Byblos, or Irvine/Lagna in FFVIII).

G Hetairos (FFVII: Crisis Core): hetairos is Greek for "comrade," used among warriors.

Kalavinka Striker (FFXIII): Like many of the Cocoon war machines, named for a mythical creature in Buddhism, this one a bird.

Ketu, Rahu (FF VI): In Hindu mythology, Ketu and Rahu are mystical serpents (or objects) tied to solar eclipses. In the game, they are the left and right arms of the boss Inferno.

Kraken (FF I, III, IX, XI) is a giant squid or octopus from Norse mythology that causes shipwrecks. See this great page on giant squid mythology.

Kunoichi: she's a female Ninja! We should see this boss again.

Magissa (FF V): "Witch" in Greek.

Manasvin Warmech (FFXIII): Manasvin is of eight water-related Dragon Kings mentioned in the Buddhist Lotus sutra.

Minerva (FFVII: Crisis Core): Hey, that's Athena you're dissing! Minerva is the Roman name for the Greek goddess Athena, who is I suppose goddess of war.

Mortibody, Mortiorchis, Mortiphasm: Latin root mort- = "death." phasm is Greek for "form, shape." And orchis? Greek for TESTICLE?! Probably not intentional, but I'll never look at the wedding of Yuna and Seymour in quite the same way again.

Moschet (FF Crystal Chronicles): Originally, French for a kind of falcon; later used for the weapon musket.

Ochu (passim): It's a monster from D&D. I think it's probably original to D&D.

Ogopogo (FF IV): Ogopogo

Omega (passim): Last letter of the Greek alphabet, and usually the ultimate optional boss, unless it's Ultima ("last" in Latin).

Orthrus (FF I): Two-headed dog, brother of Cerberus in Greek mythology.

Phobos (FF V): Greek personification of fear, worshiped as a minor god.

Scylla (FF III): Skylla is a dog/serpent/monster hybrid in Greek mythology that munched on Odysseus' sailors.

Rhizopas (FFVI): First appearing in the same game as catoblepas, I wonder if it's a new coinage using that monster's name and changing the prefix to rhizo-, Greek for "roots." The result is a bit nonsensical, however ("rooty eyes" or "rooty face").

Sekhmet (FF V): Lioness-goddess of Egyptian mythology, daughter of the sun, Sekhmet is a pretty ferocious customer, although not actually evil in Egyptian religion. She was originally created to wipe out mankind for being a bunch of blasphemous louts, but the sun-god changed his mind and got her drunk so she wouldn't eat us.

Shinryu (Several FF games) = Japanese shin "spirit" + ryū "dragon". I haven't found any myths, but a martial arts school and a type of WWIII fighter plane share the name "shinryu" as well.

Spherimorph (FFX, X-2) "Sphere-shaped" in Greek. morphos means "form, shape," and shows up all over the place; metamorphosis means "changing shape."

Takarka (FF IX): Might be named after Egyptian pharaoh Taharqa (variable spelling), or perhaps that's a coincidence.

Tiamat (many FF games) is a primordial dragon and fearsome mother goddess from Mesopotamian mythology, mentioned in the 2000BC epic, Enuma Elish, and in other fragments. Marduk, a young god rather like Zeus, slays her and creates the world from her body parts. FF is probably drawing on D&D mythology in which Tiamat is the queen of evil dragons, opposed to Bahamut.

Typhon (FF VI): Typhon is a monstrous titan or giant in Greek mythology, defeated by Zeus.

Ushumgal (FFXIII): "snake-dragon" of Sumerian mythology.

Vajradhara (FFVI: Crisis Core): Why is an avatar of the Buddha being used as the name of a boss? Well, it does mean "bearer of the thunderbolt."

Wendigo (FF V, X): Wendigo is a terrifying ghost / giant / monster of northern Native American myth.

Yamatano Orochi (FF II): Yamata no Orochi, "8-branched serpent," is a famous dragon in traditional Japanese mythology. (He shows up in the video game Okami as well).

Ymir (FF VI): The primordial giant of the Norse Creation Myth. The gods created all the bits of the world from his body parts.

The Book of Imaginary Beings by Jorge Luis Borges (1957) appears to have been used as a sourcebook by the creators of D&D and Final Fantasy: there are a few creatures in it like Carbuncle, Kataja and Bahamut which are very difficult to discover anywhere else. Other mythological creatures in this book are more widely known (several of them from the popular medieval Latin manuscript The Book of Beasts).

Borges' book of fantastic creatures includes: Amphisbaena, Bahamut, Basilisk, Behemoth, Catoblepas, Cerberus, Chimera, Golem, Hippogriff, Kraken, Kujata, Lamia, Mandrake, Manticore, Acheron (as a monster), Naga, Ouroboros, Rukh, Simurgh, Sphinx, Talos.

Final Fantasy Monster Names A-E

Abaia (FFIII): A monstrous eel in Melanesian (Fiji Islands and surrounds) mythology.

Abtu, Anet (FFIII): A pair of magical fish supposed to guide Amun-Ra's boat across heaven in Egyptian mythology.

Aegir (FFIII, FFV): Norse sea-god renowned for his beer! One of a number of aquatic gods turned into fishy, crabby, and/or squiddy monsters in Final Fantasy.

Agaliarept (FFIII): Yet another demon from 18th-century demonology, said to be directly under Lucifer in rank.

Adamantoise (FFII +) comes from tortoise (a land turtle) fused with Greek adamas, adamantos < a "not" + damazo "break, tame, conquer." adamant was a word used by ancient Greeks to describe an unspecified metal or substance that couldn't be broken; later it was used for both steel and diamond.

Ahriman (FFI+) Middle Persian for angra mainyu, "angry spirit," is the force of evil opposing God in the Zoroastrian religion. It's depicted as a winged

Ankheg (FFI, FFV): A sentient ant species introduced/invented for Dungeons & Dragons.

Antlion (FFIX, passim): Not mythological, but a fanciful monster based on a real-world animal. Make a real-world antlion the size of an actual lion and the result would be truly scary.

Arch(a)eoaevis (FFV +): from Greek archaios "old, ancient" which gets used as a prefix for many words (often shortened to arche) and Latin avis, "bird."

Aughisky (FFIII): The Aughisky, Irish spelling for Gaelic each uisge, a shapeshifting water-horse that would tempt unwary riders to mount it, then gallop off, carry them under a lake and devour them.

Balor (FFIII, FFXI): One-eyed Celtic tyrant and giant, Balor's gaze could kill or burn craters in earth. I've a hunch Balor influenced Tolkien's concept of Sauron's Eye. (Note that many of the monsters of FFXI actually come from FFIII).

Barometz (FFIII, FFXI): This is a crazy cryptid mentioned by Borges: in medieval legend, the Barometz was a lamb that grew from a plant (apparently a garbled traveler's tale of cotton). See this fun article on the Barometz.

Basilisk (FFI +): A crowned dragon or serpent whose name comes from Greek basiliskos "little king"; the basilisk first appears in the bestiary of the Roman scientist Pliny the elder and was a staple of medieval bestiaries (and Borges', and even Leonardo da Vinci's). Extremely venomous, some myths make its gaze deadly.

Behemoth (FFII +): Behemoth (whose Hebrew name can also be transliterated loosely as Bahamut) is the primeval land monster God shows Job in the Old Testament; Behemoth is paired with the watery Leviathan.

Cait Sith (FFII +): Originally a monster (labeled "panther" in some games), FF's Cait Sith derives from Celtic mythology: Cait Sidhe, "Fairy Cat," is described as a ""Large black cat with a white spot on its breast". (Some translations call him "fat cat," but this is wrong; "Sidhe" is the Celtic word for faerie.)

Catoblepas from 17th century bestiary

Catoblepas (FFI +): Apparently a garbled description of a gnu or wildebeest, this strange animal is mentioned in ancient and medieval bestiaries, not to mention Borges' book and D&D's monster guides. It's an ox-like animal with a head so heavy it has to look down (Greek kata + blepas, "down gazing"), but its gaze is deadly. I think Final Fantasy was going to Borges not D&D; since as I recall the old D&D illustration was of an animal with a long sinuous neck.

Charybdis (FFIII, FFXI): The legendary whirlpool of Greek mythology which swallowed up the last of Odysseus' ships; later Greeks and Romans identified it as the powerful tides in the narrow strait between Sicily and the toe of Italy.

Chimera (FFII +): From Greek mythology, a monster slain by Bellerophon the rider of Pegasus. A mixture of goat, lion, and dragon (synonymous with serpent in Greek myth), she was usually depicted with a lion's head in front, a goat's head sticking out of her back, and a serpent head on the end of her tail.

Cockatrice (FFI +): Similar to the basilisk, but while the former was supposedly hatched from a serpent's egg incubated by a rooster, the cockatrice (which first appears in medieval bestiaries) hatches from a rooster's egg (!) incubated by a toad or serpent. The cockatrice is usually depicted as a two-legged dragon with a rooster's head, and its gaze can petrify.

Coeurl (FFII +): The psionic, betentacled coeurl comes from science fiction stories by writer A.E. van Vogt.

Crocotta (FFIII): A mythical wolf-dog-hyena cross-breed mentioned by Roman Pliny and other ancient and medieval naturalists.

Dira (FFIII): Literally, Latin for "harsh, cruel, dire"; it's the singular of Dirae, Latin name for the Greek Furies or Harpies.

Droma (FFVIII, FFXI): dromas is "runner" in Greek (think "hippodrome," horse racetrack).

Dullahan (FFIII +): A headless monster of Celtic mythology, Dullahan may have inspired The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.

Final Fantasy Monster Names F-N

Fachan (FFIII): A curious monster of Scottish and Irish mythology, it's one-legged and has half a body.

Far Darrig (FFIII): The "red man" of Irish folklore is one of several small, dwarf-like faeries, similar to the leprachaun, but devoted to practical jokes.

Garm (FFIII +): Guardian hound or wolf at the gates of Hel, Norse goddess of the underworld; Garmr with his baying shall signal the approach of Ragnarök, doomsday.

Garuda seal of Thailand: several Asian countries have Garuda emblems

Garuda is an eagle-god in Hindu mythology, the noble steed of Vishnu and the enemy of nagas, serpents. Outside of Final Fantasy, Garuda is generally benevolent.

Gigas (FFI+): "Giant" in Latin.

Glasya-Labolas (FFII,III,VI,VIII): A half-dog, half-griffon demon of hell in demonology, this monster in older Final Fantasy games would be right at home with Diablos.

Gomory (FFIII, FFXI): variant spelling of Gremory, a duke of Hell in an 18th-century text on demonology.

Griffon (FFIII +): Mythical beast whose images go back to early Sumerian and Minoan (pre-Greek) palace decorations, the Greek griffon had no particular myths but was a widely-recognized symbol for royalty: lion body, eagle head and wings, it unites the king of beasts and king of birds.

Haniel (FFIII): Hey, this guy's an angel in Jewish folklore; why is he an FF monster?

Haokah (FFIII): Lakota (Sioux) Indian spirit of the storm.

Hecteyes (FFII+): Hekaton is Greek for 100, giving its name to hectare, hekatoncheir, and Final Fantasy's multi-eyed blob monster hecteyes.

Humbaba (FFIII+): "Humbaba the Terrible" is a formidable opponent in the Sumerian epic of Gilgamesh. (See Tablet III).

Hydra (FFIII+): One of Hercules' labors in Greek mythology is to slay the Lernaian Hydra, a multi-headed dragon who grows two heads after each is cut off. Most tales say he solved the problem by cauterizing the stumps with a torch.

Kage (FFIII): Japanese for "shadow."

Kagura (FFIII): Japanese "music of the gods," kagura is traditional sacred dance in Japan. (Think Yuna's sending dance).

Kelpie (FFIII): Scottish water-horse faerie whose skin is like superglue; it lures children onto its back, then drowns them. (Alternate name for Kelpie is Noggle, also found in FFIII).

Lamia (FFII+): Greek mythology: one of Zeus' unfortunate lovers; some stories say Hera (wife of Zeus) drove Lamia mad so she devoured her children, others that Hera killed her children so she began devouring others. Lamia became a catch-all name for any sort of vampire or monstrous woman, often depicted in later times with a serpent's tail.

Larva (FFIII+): Latin for "ghost, spectre, larva could also mean "mask" (which it clearly does in the popular Japanese anime Vampire Princess Miyu).

Lepracaun The Irish faerie, leprechaun. His habit of burying treasure in pots may come from the period when the Irish were burying (or wishing to save) valuables during an epidemic of Viking raids in the Middle Ages.

Malboro is clearly the poster child for Big Tobacco. I've always liked my social commentary with tentacles.

Mandragora/Mandrake (FFIII+): A fertility herb in the Old Testament, Mandrake or Mandragora in the Middle Ages was believed to release a fatal scream when pulled from the ground. The forked root was said to resemble a miniature human figure.

Manticore (FFV+): Persian animal reported by various Greek travelers, the manticore's name was said to mean "man-eater": it had a red dog-like body, a stinging tail, a man's head and three rows of teeth. One late geographer guesses it was a garbled account of a tiger.

Marilith seems to be an original D&D monster that has percolated out into many fantasy games and stories.

Melusine (FFV+): a beautiful but usually perilous water-maiden of medieval European folklore, a melusine was sometimes depicted in heraldry as a woman with two serpentine fish-tails.

Myrmecoleon (FFIII): Yet another of Borges' beasties; this obscure hybrid animal is half ant (Greek: myrmex, myrmekos) and half lion (Greek: leon). FF seems to have misinterpreted the first syllable myr as mer- from the Latin for "sea," making the creature aquatic.

Mindflayer (FFI+): NOT traditional mythology, this is one of the monsters invented for D&D.

Minotaur (FFV+): The half-man, half-bull of Greek myth.

Naga (FFI+): Serpent deities in Hindu and Buddhist mythology, nagas are very common in eastern myth. The name is also given to King Cobras in Hindi.

Necrophobe (FFV+): Oddly, its name means "fearful of death" in Greek.

Nemesis (FFIII+): Greek goddess of fate, doom.

Nightmare (FFIII+): Confused in modern fantasy with the shapeshifting faerie-horses of Celtic myth, the mara was actually an Anglo-Saxon or Norse demon that sits on sleeper's chests (modern term is "hagging") -- here's a good page on traditional night-mare folklore.

Final Fantasy Monster Names R-Z

Oceanus (FFIII, FFVI): A Greek Titan, the primeval Ocean, an outer ring of water surrounding the lands and inner (Mediterranean) sea.

Ogre (FFIII+): French ogre first appears in medieval Arthurian romances and was popularized by 17th century compilers of European "fairy tales".

Ouroboros (FFIII+): Greek "tail eater," the image of the serpent or dragon eating its tail appears in mythological and gnostic symbolism around the world. See this interesting article on the Ouroboros.

Peryton (FFIII, FFXI): This odd creature, a winged stag, almost certainly comes from Borges' book through D&D which popularized it. Borges claimed he found it in a medieval manuscript, but it is otherwise unattested.

Petit (FFIII,FFIX): French for "small."

Phorusracos (FFII): Like a lot of FF monsters, this one has a prehistoric animal's name: phorusrhacos ("rag-thief") was a genus of monstrous, predatory birds whose fossils were first discovered in the late 1800s. They made their way into early SF such as Arthur Conan Doyle's Lost World. I love the fact that this FF monster's name in Japanese is "Big Bird" or "Big baddo."

Piscod(a)emon (FFI+): from Greek pisco, "fish."

Purobolos/pyroboros (FFII +): Greek puros "Fire" plus boros "eating" or bolos "a cast, throw, act of hurling."

Rafflesia (FFVI, FFXI-XIII): A species of real-world parasitic plant; due to their stench, several have names that mean "corpse flower" or "meat flower."

Rakshasa (FFI+): man-eating (or corpse-eating) unrighteous spirits, rakshasas are very common antagonists in Hindu and Buddhist mythology. FF probably picked them up from D&D, where they are tiger-headed, elegant but very dangerous sorcerers.

RedCap (FFIII+): A particularly nasty faerie of Celtic mythology, the vicious red cap's hat is stained with the blood of its victims, which it tears apart or crushes.

Revenant (FFII onward): lit. "one who comes back" in French, a term first appearing in the 1800s for a widespread figure of medieval folklore, an unquiet (usually evil) spirit of a dead person rising from the grave to trouble the living.

Rhyos (FFI+): The geology prefix rhyo- comes from Greek rhyax, "rushing stream, torrent" which was later used for lava. In FF, these monsters tend to use or breathe fire.

Rukh, Roc (FFIII+): An enormous winged bird like a giant eagle from Arabian folklore; it wrecked the ship of Sinbad the Sailor. Marco Polo heard about the Roc carrying off elephants.

Sah(u)again: Invented by D&D employee Steve Marsh, the Sahagin are an aquatic race that has entered into modern RPG mythology.

Sleipnir (FFIII+): Eight-legged horse of the Norse god Odin. Offspring of Loki who disguised himself as a mare to help the gods avoid paying for a public works project.

Simurgh (FFIII+) Lion-bodied mythical being of Persia with wings and head of an eagle, somewhat like a griffon; the Simurgh was said to live on the Tree of Knowledge and be a wise and benevolent creature.

Spriggan (FFIII,FFXI): Small, ornery faeries of Cornish mythology, spriggan guard treasure (mostly grave goods) and cause all manner of mischief. Most notably, they can expand from pixie to giant size, making them suddenly much more dangerous.

Wyrm (FFI+): Anglo Saxon for Dragon/serpent, which are the same word in many cultures (including the word draco).

More Final Fantasy Names and Origins - My series on the names of Final Fantasy


© 2011 auronlu

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