The Hunger Games gave us a dystopian world of heroes and villains, set across three novels and their movie adaptations. Then the prequel, A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, explained how it got to be that way. A big screen adaptation of that book is out in November 2023.
The Games might sound a little like an Olympics, but the stakes are far higher. Young Tributes battle to the death, with the victors enjoying lives of luxury and ease. Organized by the wealthy, decadent Capitol, the Games were created to keep the surrounding territories – a dozen Districts – in line. Some were fabuloulsy wealthy, and their Districts cooperated with the Capitol, also known as Panem. Our hero, Katniss Everdeen, comes from District 12, known as the poorest and least privileged of the territories.
If it sounds a little like the Roman Empire, well, that was one of author Suzanne Collins’ inspirations.
It couldn’t last, of course, and eventually there’s a rebellion, introducing us to even more characters – good, bad, and somewhere in between.
So let’s take a look at Hunger Games inspired names. Some of these belong to brave, kind characters. Others are more complex, and some are downright dastardly. But their names? All fascinating.
And, of course, many Hunger Games inspired names might work for a real child.
What are the Hunger Games names based on?
Before we get to the list, it’s worth noting that Hunger Games names are based on different qualities, depending on their characters’ origin stories.
Katniss, for example, comes from one of the poorest districts in her world. Names there often point to the natural world. Other districts favor names that reflect their locations, like maritime names. And residents of the capitol, Panem, often wear names from the Roman Empire, grand and imposing names appropriate for the ruling class.
NOTE: Mild spoilers for both the original trilogy and the prequel throughout.
FEMININE HUNGER GAMES NAMES
Alma Coin is the president of one of the districts and a leader of the rebellion. Her name carries multiple possible meanings. One of note: 1854’s Battle of Alma was a particularly brutal episode in the Crimean War.
We meet Annie Cresta in Catching Fire. She’s a victor of a past Games.
A classmate of Coriolanus Snow from the prequel, Arachne Crane comes from a wealthy family in the Capitol. Like her namesake from Greek mythology, Arachne’s arrogance leads to her downfall.
This name might be borrowed from an early nineteenth century French novella about Native Americans, written by François-René de Chateaubriand. The Atala in the Hunger Games is the trainer who does her best to prepare Tributes to survive the contest.
One of many Games contestants mentioned throughout the series.
One of the quirks of the Hunger Games universe: some of the Tributes longed to compete, training and vying for the opportunity to be chosen. Cashmere is among this group.
The spelling Cecilia is more popular in the US now, but Cecelia was a past victor in Catching Fire.
Clemensia Dovecote’s name is full of peace and mercy: clemency, dove. While she’s part of the wealthy Capitol, it’s clear that she finds much of the barbarism of the Games difficult to accept.
Like Cashmere, Clove was a “Career” Tribute, trained from childhood for the Games.
Throughout the series, names often coordinate with characters’ homes. Coral is a Tribute from District 4, known for fishing and maritime industries.
An up-and-coming filmmaker from the Capitol, Cressida and her camera crew join the rebellion. Along with Messalla, Castor, and Pollux, they document Katniss as she fights back.
The name of another District 12 resident, Delly Cartwright.
Another Capitol resident and classmate of Corionlanus Snow.
Effie Trinket comes from the Capitol to District 12, the home of Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark. At first, she’s just another wealthy, privileged part of the Games, but Effie evolves over the course of the story.
A high-ranking Capitol official, Egeria is another name with Latin roots.
Another borrowing from ancient Rome via Shakespeare, worn by a Tribute in Catching Fire. It’s of the less wearables names on this list, but potential nicknames might include Aria.
Another Career Tribute from a wealthy District.
We meet Hazelle Hawthrone, the widowed mother of Gale, Katniss’ best friend.
A past victor of the Games and an ally of Katniss during the rebellion, Johanna Mason survived Catching Fire, only to suffer terribly alongside Peeta and other survivors.
The original trilogy focused on the story of Katniss Everdeen. Played by Jennifer Lawrence in the movie adaptations, Katniss is brave, whipsmart, and skilled at hunting. She honed her skill to feed herself and her family, but it ultimately serves her well, first in the Games, and then as a leader of the rebellion. She loves her sister devotedly – in fact, it’s her sister who is first chosen to compete in the Games. Katniss volunteers in her place.
Katniss’ name comes from an edible aquatic plant.
In the series, Lavinia is an avox – a servant. All avoxes are rendered mute by having their tongues cut out. In this case, Lavinia’s name might be borrowed from Titus Andronicus. In Shakespeare’s play, Lavinia is the daughter of Titus, and suffers a similar fate.
Another wealthy resident of the Capitol.
Lucy Gray Baird is mentored by a young Coriolanus Snow in an early edition of the Games. Like future competitor Katniss Everdeen, she’s a District 12 resident. She’s a member of the Covey, a minority group particularly persecuted by the Capitol. (They’re described as something like the Romani people in Europe.) All Covey given names are two parts: a first name from a folk ballad, followed by a color. Lucy Gray’s name is distinctive, as “Lucy Gray” is a song they perform – meaning both parts are musicially inspired. The lyrics themselves are borrowed from a real poem written by William Wordsworth.
The daughter of well-to-do physicians in the Capitol, Lysistrata Vickers is a classmate of Coriolanus Snow. She’s one of the privileged few who object to the Games, though she serves as a mentor to one of the contestants as required.
Madge Undersee only appears in the books, where she’s the daughter of District 12’s mayor. That makes her relatively fortunate in the poor area. In the original story, she’s the one who pins the Mockingjay symbol on Katniss. Every competitor is allowe to wear one symbol from their home; this will become a potent symbol for the rebellion.
Brave and thoughtful, Mags Flanagan is a senior citizen by the time we meet her in Catching Fire.
Like Lucy Gray, Maude Ivory is another member of the Covey from A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. Other members of their group include Barb Azue and Billy Tauple. Maude’s name comes from Christina Rosetti’s poem “Maude Clare,” the story of a bold and unapologetic woman.
A District 12 resident who featured in Lucy Gray’s story.
The original owner of the Mockingjay pin, Maysilee Donner was a District 12 Tribute. While she lost her life in the Games, her niece Madge would inherit the pin, and eventually pass it along to Katniss.
One of the Capitol stylists initially assigned to work on Cinna’s team preparing Katniss for the Games. It’s an obvious choice for a Capitol resident, an ancient Roman name with style.
The youngest of Gale Hawthrone’s siblings. Like many District 13 residents, she bears a nature name.
The ancient Roman name is a giveaway – Portia is another resident of the Capitol. She’s the stylist charged with dressing Peeta for the Games.
Primrose Everdeen is the beloved younger sister of Katniss. She trains as a doctor, and serves as a medic during the fighting.
When we first meet the Tributes during the 74th Hunger Games – the first in the book and movie series – Rue is the youngest, just twelve years old. She became a valuable ally to Katniss. The name Rue refers to both a small flower and a synonym for regret, making this an obvious choice for a beloved character with a tragic ending.
The Latin and Spanish word for sun, Sol appears as a Tribute from District 5 in The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.
Teslee looks like a popular name from the early twenty-first century, akin to Kaylee or other inventions. Since the character comes from District 3, known for technology and electronics, it’s likely a nod to inventor Nikola Tesla.
Cousin to Coriolanus Snow, Tigris shared his high birth – and limited financial resources. In The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, she’s an aspiring fashion designer and early stylist for the Games, able to craft appealing clothing from rags. Many Capitol residents choose surgical augmentation, changing their appearances in drastic ways. Through tattoos and plastic surgery, Tigris transforms her look to more closely resemble her name’s meaning: tiger.
Another member of Katniss’ prep team from the Capitol. It might be short for a longer name, like Luvenia. But in Latin, venia means forgiveness. It suggests that Venia is involved in the Games, but like so many Capitol residents, her role is minor.
A number of the Hunger Games inspired names don’t really work for children. In this case, though, the character is too significant to overlook – even if Wiress feels like an unlikely given name. She hails from District 3, and while she seems crazy post-victory, she’s quite brilliant. Her insight in Catching Fire changes the course of the story.
MASCULINE HUNGER GAMES NAMES
The name of the Greek sun god, Apollo Ring was one of Coriolanus’ classmates and a fellow mentor to a Tribute.
Suzanne Collins chose surprising names, unheard outside of the world she created. Arlo is the exception, ranking among the most popular baby names now. We meet Arlo Chance in The Balad of Songbirds and Snakes. He’s an early rebel from District 12.
Like Wiress, Beetee is a District 3 genius, who succeeds in the Games through intellect rather than brute force. They both joined the rebellion.
In the ancient world, Brutus was the founder of the Roman Republic. Another Brutus plotted to assasinate Julius Ceasar. The name means “heavy” in Latin, but it’s taken on a different meaning: animal-like, or a beast. That’s a fitting description of the past Games victor Katniss meets in Catching Fire.
For decades, Caesar Flickerman has been the host of the Games, interviewng Tributes. As Master of Ceremonies, he’s a central figure. But unlike many in the Capitol, it’s hard to interpret his involvement, as his efforts help the Tributes attract support they need to succeed in the Games.
In Greek myth, Castor and Pollux are twin brothers. He’s part of the camera crew that films Katniss during the rebellion.
Another borrowing from ancient Rome, Cato means wise. That’s not necessarily fitting for the character, though, a Tribute Katniss describes as “brutal.”
On arrival in the Capitol, every Tribute is assigned a stylist. Katniss’ stylist is Cinna, whose surprising, attention-grabbing designs catapult Katniss and Peeta from obscurity to fame. Musician Lenny Kravitz plays the role in the movies.
The official announcer of the Hunger Games, Claudius Templesmith shares commentating duties with Caesar Flickerman in the movies.
When we first met Coriolanus Snow in the Hunger Games, he’s a villain. The ruthless president of Panem, Snow clawed his way to the top and now rules as a dictator, using the military to do his will. Katniss faces off against Snow as the story develops. But in A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, he’s the protagonist. The prequel focuses on Coriolanus’ backstory, and see that it wasn’t a forgone conclusion that he’d end up in his powerful position.
Tigris Snow shortens Coriolanus to Coryo, a cheerful nickname for her handsome cousin.
Soldiers in the world of Panem were called Peacekeepers. We first meet Darius as a District 12 Peacekeeper. Katniss considers him one of the better members of his profession, approachable and not especially harsh. Darius means “possessing goodness.”
Another character from A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Felix Ravinstill is one of Coriolanus’ classmates.
A past Games champion, Finnick Odair was handsome and wildly popular in the Capitol. He joined the rebellion and became a valuable ally to Katniss. As a native of District 4, Finnick was skilled with all things related to fishing, from tying knots to wielding nets. He weapon of choice in the arena was a trident. Collins invented his name for the character; possibly Fin is a reference to fish, but it’s not clear.
Another member of Cinna’s team, he helped prep Katniss for her public appearances during the Games. Flavius is an ancient Roman name meaning golden.
An easy-going classmate of Coriolanus, Gaius Breen died in an early skirmish between the Capitol and the rebels.
The eldest of four siblings, Gale Hawthore is Katniss’ best friend. They both shoulder far more responsbility than they should for their ages. Gale goes on to fight as a rebel, and survives the war.
Older brother to Cashmere, Gloss was another District 1 Tribute who volunteered to be in the Games.
When the story begins, Haymitch Abernathy is the only living District 12 resident to have ever won the Hunger Games. That makes him the only choice to serve as mentor to Katniss and Peeta, even though he’s developed a drinking problem. While Haymitch struggles, he’s also a leading instigator of the rebellion.
A District 12 resident, Jessup Diggs was the male Tribute sent to the Games with Lucy Gray.
A popular weatherman in the Capitol, Lucretius “Lucky” Flickerman is tapped to become the first host of the Hunger Games. It’s not known whether he’s related to future Master of Ceremonies, Caesar Flickerman.
Another Career Tribute from Katniss’ first Games.
A District 6 Tribute, Otto lost his life in a rebel attack before the Games began.
The baker’s son, Peeta Mellark, also comes from District 12, just like Katniss. He’s also chosen as a Tribute in the same Hunger Games. FIXHis name might refer to pita bread, and his family business. But Peeta also sounds just a bit like traditional favorite Peter, which means rock – fitting for his character and his role in the stories.
Brother to Castor, and also a member of the camera crew who films Katniss.
The Head Gamemaker after Seneca Crane, Plutarch Heavensbee turns his back on the Capitol and joins the rebellion. It’s yet another name from ancient Rome. We meet an earlier Heavensbee, Hilarius, in The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.
When we first met Katniss, District 12 was run by Cray, a corrupt Head Peacekeeper. Cray is replaced by Romulus Thread, who proves a brutal, merciless authority.
One of Gale Hawthorne’s younger siblings.
A Head Gamemaker, Seneca Crane was responsible for the first Games in which Katniss and Peeta competed. His name contains his fate: like the ancient Roman philosopher Seneca, he was also forced to commit suicide.
In theory, Capitol families didn’t move to the Districts and vice versa. But wealthy arms manufacturer Strabo Plinth managed to relocate from District 2 to the Capitol, bringing his wife and son with him. Sejanus became a classmate of Coriolanus, but his sympathies remained with the Districts.
Another member of the Covey, and thus close to Lucy Gray. Tam is likely short for Thomas, making it one of several Hunger Games inspired names that resembles English language names in the twenty-first century.
Another Tribute from an early Hunger Games.
The male Tribute paired with Rue from District 11 in the Hunger Games. He spares Katniss’ life because of her friendship with Rue.
Another past Hunger Games winner.
One of Gale Hawthorne’s little brothers. Like Tam and Peeta, it’s close to a familiar name now, Victor.