Word Salad Title

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Thank goodness for the 1950's style title header.

"Babbity Rabbity and her Cackling Stump is the stupidest title ever written by man or beast and of course when I wrote it, I never--I had not, at the point, when I gave Ron that title, I didn't imagine for a second that I was actually going to write the story."

J. K. Rowling, on combining this trope with Defictionalization.

The persistent practice of using titles that look like someone mashed together random words lifted out of an English dictionary. At worst, they will be as meaningless as "Super Punk Octo Pudding Gas Mark Seven", and at best, they will just cryptically allude to the show's premise or characters while trying to make a clever Western pop-culture reference. Basically, Gratuitous English as applied to show names.

Contrast with Exactly What It Says on the Tin, this trope's direct opposite. See also Non-Indicative Name, for characters and in-story objects with similarly unintuitive names. Related to I Thought It Meant. For an example of a "All The Tropes" title that follows this formula, see Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot.

The extreme version of this trope is the Word Puree Title, where the "word" part gets skipped entirely.

See also Mad Lib Anime Title. See also Gory Deadly Overkill Title of Fatal Death, for when horror movies do this. A related trope would be Word Salad Lyrics.

Not to be confused with Colon Cancer or In Which a Trope Is Described. Mad Lib Thriller and Fantasy Titles follow a set of rules that may or may not be this.

Examples of Word Salad Title include:

Examples That Make Sense In Context

Anime and Manga

  • Manga and anime in general is rife with this trope, with a legion of examples. Names like Fruits Basket, Pani Poni Dash, and Cowboy Bebop tell the reader very little about the possible subject matter of the work, and many more obscure titles seem to have been written by pulling words out of a magnetic poetry set. In part this may be a function of the fact that anime is often popularized more through word of mouth or catchy visual adverisements than by any attempt at explaining itself; the show's name doesn't need to make sense as much as to be catchy, and its very inapropos nature may help it stand out in a potential viewer's mind.
  • The meaning behind Angel Beats! title doesn't become clear until the final episode. Although whether it's Fridge Brilliance or a Mind Screw-inducing plot hole is a matter of individual taste.
  • Given anime's innate tendency to have English titles written by a populace that doesn't have English as a primary language, examples are nearly a dime a dozen. Which is why when the in-universe characters will talk about some fictional anime, they will use a word salad title.

But we're gonna list 'em all anyway.

  • Boogiepop Phantom.
  • Samurai Champloo sounds like it but actually makes some sense. Champloo or rather Chanpuru is a Japanese dish made from a mix of regional foods, just like how the anime mixes Edo-period and modern elements together. Interestingly, both the dish and the main character of the anime are from Okinawa.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist just plain makes more sense in the original: the word translated as 'full metal' is a pun in Japanese, meaning steel but also stubborn. Its Japanese title, Hagane no Renkinjutsushi (commonly abbreviated to "HagaRen"), would translate to the far more comprehensible Alchemist of Steel.
  • Full Metal Panic!, on the other hand, is Gratuitous English and a slightly off-kilter reference to a Stanley Kubrick film.
  • Fruits Basket is named after a Japanese kids' game also called "Fruits Basket". Makes logical, if not grammatic, sense. The problem comes from Japanese at one time lacking a tu syllable - it's tsu or to - with the result that so many English words ending in t get an extraneous final -s when transliterated into Japanese. In particular, "fruit" has issues in the fact that Japanese does not have distinct R and L consonants; furuuto is the transliteration of "flute", so "fruit" is stuck with furuutsu.
  • Devilman Lady was changed to The Devil Lady for the American release. The original title came about because the titular character is the Distaff Counterpart to Devilman.
  • Bleach had its name derived from Tite Kubo not wanting to name his manga Black after the color of the shingami uniforms and so named it Bleach as the inverse of black. Possible fan theories for its naming were Ichigo's light red hair, which supposedly looks bleached, the band Nirvana of which Tite Kubo is a fan, whose first album was titled Bleach or the "bleaching" purification effect a Shinigami's sword has on a Hollow fallen ghost. And then there's the rumor that he called it bleach because in his cleaning supplies the bleach was right next to the Resolve, and resolve is a major character trait.
Many of the chapter titles make very little sense without context. "Four Arms to Killing You" and "Superchunky from Hell" for example. The former involves an Arrancar with four (later six) arms trying to kill Kenpachi Zaraki. The latter is about a giant blob-shaped hollow coming from Hueco Mundo to aid in Aizen's attack. Superchunky even became the huge thing's Fan Nickname. In the Bleach character data books there are sections to translate the titles.
  • Ah! Megami-sama, aka Ah! My Goddess, was changed to Oh My Goddess! in some translations to fit the western expletive "Oh My God." According to its creator, this is the correct translation.
  • El-Hazard: The Magnificent World. It only looks like word salad. "El-Hazard" is an idiosyncratic transliteration of the Arabic al-azzahr ("die" -- the kind you roll, not the verb form of "death"; colloquially, it can mean "chance" or "fortune"). "El-" is a variation on al-, the Arabic definite article, but it's actually redundant -- az- is already a form of the definite article and the actual noun is zahr. (The English word "hazard", by the way, is this word, picked up in the Holy Land and brought back to Europe by Provençal crusaders and then carried along through Middle Dutch, Old French and Middle English, and slowly mutating to mean "danger" rather than "random chance".) "El-Hazard" is probably intended to draw on both meanings to denote a land where one encounters fortune or opportunity amidst danger. (And it seems that this usage -- as the name of a land where you might find what you need or want, despite danger -- was picked up by the creators of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha when they needed an object for Precia Testarossa's obsessions.)
  • Speaking of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, this one's actually pretty straightforward. "Lyrical" is her rarely-used incantation, (she stopped using it after the first episode of the second season), she's a Magical Girl and her name is Nanoha.
  • Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch. "Pichi pichi" is both the onomatopoeia of a fish blowing bubbles and a phrase describing a Genki Girl like the heroine, Lucia. Pitch refers to the Magic Music used in the series. Still, that's like naming an action film Man With a Gun Bang Bang Sound."
  • Soukou no Strain. Strains are the Humongous Mecha, and the name actually stands for STRategic Armoured INfantry; it may also refer to the strained relationship between the Emotionless Girl heroine and her evil Aloof Big Brother.
  • Bubblegum Crisis: As the creators explain, a bubblegum crisis is a bad situation that just keeps expanding until it pops and leaves a mess all over the place. They may have been thinking of 'Sticky Situation'.
  • Sailor Moon: More properly, Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon. The Sailor Soldiers' Magical Girl costumes deliberately resemble the common Japanese school girl uniforms, popularly known as "sailor fuku" that are patterned after traditional sailor's uniforms. The resemblance is mostly in the shirt collar and scarf. The show even referenced this in one episode when Usagi used her Disguise Pen to become an actual sailor. Actually, the officially translated full title is "Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon". Later adaptations explicitly include an English version of the title, using one of the other valid translations of "senshi" instead of "soldier", including "warrior" and "guardian". Strictly speaking, neither the full nor abbreviated title is any more of a word salad than "(The Amazing) Spider-Man" is.
Later arcs tack on "R", "S", "Super S", and "Sailor Stars" to the series title. R is said to stand for Rebirth and Romance, S refers to Super, according to eyecatches, as in Super Sailor Moon. Super S refers to... Multiple Super Sailor Soldiers (i.e., the Sailor Team) while Sailor Stars? Probably all the Sailor Star Lights (alien Sailor Soldiers).
This trope also applies to too many attack names to count. There is nothing particularly illusionary about Shine Aqua Illusion, nor do Star Serious Laser and Star Gentle Uterus actually involve lasers and uteri. (Ew.)
  • Azumanga Daioh
    • The title refers to the author of the manga (Kiyohiko Azuma) and the magazine it was published in (Dengeki Daioh), as well as it being, well, a manga. A translation would basically go something like "Azuma's great comic for Daioh Magazine." The anime version calls it "Azumanga Daioh: The Animation", even though it's only accurate for the print version. It also sounds like "Azumanga da yo", which would translate to "It's Azuma's manga!". They play with this interpretation at the very beginning of the anime (they cut the phrase off, resulting in 'Azumanga da!').
  • All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku. "Cultural", in this context, is a post-World-War-II word indicating that a consumer product is New and Improved. Still, it fails to capture English syntax.
  • The "Cure" part of the Pretty Cure franchise is assumed to refer to the act of eliminating the evil influence that turned an ordinary object of some kind into the Monster of the Week. Makes the most sense in Futari wa Pretty Cure Splash Star... though that series has its own problems (see below).
  • Lucky Star doesn't seem to specifically refer to any star that is lucky, although there is quite a bit of symbolic use of a star within the series as a decorative motif, and there is an extended sequence where the characters discuss wishing upon a star. Possibly, it was referring to the Madonna song, which at least vaguely makes sense. It could also refer to the celebrity 'star', specifically to Aya Hirano voicing the lead character after the success of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.
Furthermore, the title is spelled Raki ☆ Suta, which is not the proper way to spell Lucky or Star, which ought to be Rakkii and Sutaa respectively. It is a little bit like naming your show "Lukky St'r" (just enough similarity to the actual words that the intended meaning is clear, but it still looks odd). It's just another example of the Fun With The Foreign Languages game so popular in Japan. The Lucky part came from Comptiq, the magazine it serializes; Lucky Channel is actually the name of their reader's column.
There is a scene where one of the characters wishes on a shooting star, but it doesn't appear until Volume 2 of the manga. The anime theme song also makes reference to meteorites.
  • ×××HOLiC sounds like someone hopelessly addicted to pornography, those x'ed jars of moonshine, or maybe Vin Diesel. It's actually supposed to evoke those little x's on the blank where you sign your name on official documents: therefore, "xxxHoLic" is more like "fill-in-the-blank-holic", or "ABC-holic". Many of the characters fit this description (workaholic, alcoholic, etc.). It's supposed to be pronounced as just "holic". It can also mean "addicted to the unknown" with the xxx being a "mystery".
  • Tokyo Mew Mew is a Pun-Based Title involving the onomatopoeia of a cat's "mew" and the Greek letter "mu", which is pronounced the same and used extensively in the field of genetics. The main character is a Catgirl, and she and her team of Petting Zoo People are genetic experiments. And, well, Tokyo Is the Center of the Universe.
  • Kaitou Saint Tail: Kaitou is obvious, Saint because she's Catholic, Tail because she has a ponytail.
  • Kiddy Grade makes sense when reviewing the background material, which states that the young-looking nanomachine-enhanced ES members are 'graded' in increasing orders of power as C, S, G (Copper, Silver, Gold). Ironically, the main protagonists are listed as the weakest of their organization... at first.
  • The Japanese title Kidou Senkan Nadeshiko is a fairly straightforward play on two classic series and the term Yamato Nadeshiko. For whatever reason, the English title, Martian Successor Nadesico was taken from the antagonists of The Movie, who don't even exist in the time frame of the series.
  • Excel Saga is the saga of the title character whose name is Excel. The full title of the anime adaptation is "Quack Experimental Anime Excel Saga", which also says it all.
  • Serial Experiments Lain: Lain is our protagonist. The series spans a short manga and a Playstation game, the latter of which involves reading case files on Lain's 'progress' throughout laboratory tests. Also, each episode of the show can be seen as Lain experimenting with something new, progressing serially from the simple (trying out a new computer) to the mindblowingly, cosmically profound. Metatextually, the episodes can be seen as a series of experiments with storytelling technique, each one trying something different.
  • Kurau Phantom Memory: Kurau, the protagonist, merges with an energy being calling itself "Rynax", which is likely the phantom from the title. The new Kurau retains a strong sense of morality, since she still possesses all of the memories of her human part. During the course of the series she encounters other "Rynasapiens" who suppress their human memories and as a result have high disregard for life.
  • Cowboy Bebop: other than helping to set the mood of the show, a "cowboy" is slang for a bounty hunter and Bebop is the name of the ship the hero bounty hunters live on. And no, the title doesn't refer to a specific character. Bebop is also a type of Jazz and the opening theme song Tank is sort of an example of this style. Naming the show after music also works given how musically influenced the episodes are.
  • Trigun can make sense in context, though that context is debated (see below).
  • Bobobo-Bo Bo-bobo is named after the main character, and both he and the series are every bit as weird as the name.
  • Magic Knight Rayearth stars a trio of characters who become, yes, Magic Knights. One of them eventually gains a guardian god-robot called Rayearth.
  • Code Geass: "Geass" is the main character's name for his Evil Eye powers (which is derived from geis or geas, a type of enchantment that heroes in Celtic mythology are often put under by goddesses or witches), but the "Code" part remained a mystery for one and a half seasons, until in episode 15 of R2, CC referred to her and VV's immortality and ability to bestow Geass as "Code". Yup, it was as simple as that. On the other hand, "R2" remains unintuitive and unclarified in the text, but Word of God states it refers to "reconstruction and revolution".
  • Kishin Corps had its title changed to an example of this trope for Pioneer/Geneon's DVD re-release: Alien Defender Geo Armor.
  • The title Transformers Armada refers to the eventual team-up of Autobots, Decepticons, and Mini-Cons to form a giant space fleet to fight Unicron... near the end of the series, making the title a total mystery for most of the time that it was in use.
    • Transformers: Super-God Masterforce. "Masterforce" is the transformation phrase used by the humans turning into Transformers. "Super-God" is a translation of the Japanese word chojin (超神). Jin is how the kanji 人 is pronounced; this sound is present in the Japanese words for both human and android, and thus symbolises the combination of humans and robots (in this case, Transformers) to form the ultimate lifeform. Thus, a more accurate but less impressive name would be Transformers: Super-Human-Robot-Hybrid-Soul Masterforce. Super-God Masterforce can also refer to the Godmasters, the aforementioned fusions of human and Transformer.
    • Armada's name in Japan is Transformers: Micron Legend. Referring to the ever-prevalent microns (Called Mini-Cons in America).
  • Negative Happy Chainsaw Edge. The villain uses a Chainsaw Good, and his strength is dependent on the lead female Eri's happiness, or lack thereof.
  • Axis Powers Hetalia. The series initially focused on World War II versions of Germany, Italy, and Japan before expanding its cast and focus. Hetalia is a portmanteau of the Japanese words for "useless" and "Italy".
  • Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle is certainly a chronicle, and "Tsubasa" means "wings", which fits the "search for feathers" quest that takes up the first half of the series and also, two of the main characters are named Tsubasa, although they're using their clones' names (Syaoran and Sakura) as aliases. Pay no attention to the fact that said clones got the names in the first place from the aliases their originals were using, it just gives you a headache. Although the titular reservoir appears halfway through, it seems a minor detail unworthy of title attention until the grand finale. The "reservoir" can also refer to how Sakura's memories are in feathers, so the "wings" are a reservoir of what is the plot to our story.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! makes sense in the original Japanese, as it means "King of Games", and Yugi is the protagonist's name. The latter is probably the reason why the title wasn't simply translated along with the rest of the show - the connection between title and character name would be lost, and naming him "Kingof" would just be weird.
  • Flunk Punk Rumble, despite being the English title, sounds like it makes much less sense than the Japanese title (Yankee-kun to Megane-chan / Delinquent Boy and Glasses Girl). But if you consider that the aforementioned Manga concerns students trying to not Flunk from school, and that almost all of the characters are Punks / Delinquents and that the main characters often get involved with Rumbling, it makes at least some sense in context.
  • Eureka Seven':
    • The full title is Koukyoushihen Eureka Seven, literally "Symphonic Psalms Eureka Seven" or officially "Psalms of Planets Eureka Seven". OK, Eureka is the name of the female protagonist, and the episodes are all named after songs, so the story can be regarded as a collection of "psalms" in that sense. The answer to Seven is a very submerged Title Drop: During the flashback explaining the origins of the Scub Coral they first remember a rocket that crashes. Its underwater wreckage shows "Eureka" on the rocket a screen later. The entire series of events began with a space mission named Eureka Seven.
    • The meaning in the Alternate Universe Movie is spelled out much more explicitly: Eureka was the seventh girl who a cult experimented on to obtain knowledge from the Coralians/Image, so she was referred to by a serial number ending in "7" which was shorten to "Eureka 7".
  • Pumpkin Scissors is named after the postwar recovery organization the characters in the series belong to, so it makes sense that the series would be called that. Where the organization got its name from is that just as a pair of sturdy shears can cut through the thick pumpkin, so does the recovery unit cut through the hopelessness and corruption after the war.
  • Marmalade Boy - In the book a direct reference is made by Miki's description of her step-brother and later boyfriend: sweet with some bitterness (unpleasantness) in it. But by Word of God, all four main characters were originally gender-flipped, and "Marmalade Boy" was meant to describe Miki's sweet, naive and cheerful character before the Gender Flip.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion:
    • Neon means "New One" in Greek so the title is New One Beginning/Creation/Origin Gospel in English. The Video games entry for NGE has a more detailed version. According to Sadamoto, the title came from wanting a similar name to the also confusingly titled Space Runaway Ideon.
    • The literal translation of the original Japanese title, Shin Seiki Evangelion, is "New Century Evangelion" .Hideaki Anno has said that he chose the word "Evangelion" because it "sounded cool".
  • Daphne in the Brilliant Blue is pretty much this for awhile - it's not until episode 10 (nearly halfway in the series) that the 'Daphne' part is given any explanation whatsoever, and the full title still doesn't make a lot of sense until the final few episodes.
  • Yumeiro Patissiere. Yumeiro literally means "dream-colored," and connects to the fact that the protagonist (the Patissiere) wishes to make dreams come true through her sweets.
  • I My Me Strawberry Eggs. There's actually a pun in here. In Japanese the word "aimai" means "ambiguous" or "vague" which, given the plot, makes a good deal of sense.
  • Strawberry Panic takes place in the Strawberry dorms and many characters end up in a panic about things.
  • Strawberry Marshmallow refers to the nicknames Nobue calls the girls, Strawberries, and the song Marshmallow, by Tamio Okuda.
  • Strawberry 100%. The incident that starts the series is the main character looking for a beautiful girl with strawberry-print panties he happened to see on the school roof.
  • Katekyo Hitman Reborn , which complete title, Katekyoushi Hitman Reborn! means Home Tutor Hitman Reborn. To explain: a renowned Hitman becomes the protagonist's home tutor, and his name is Reborn!. Once you know that, the title can also be read "My Hitman Home Tutor, Reborn."
  • One Piece suffers from this, particularly because in many languages, including English, it can refer to, ahem, clothing. In-universe, it refers to the treasure that the protagonist and many of the other pirates in the series are trying to find, making it a rather apt title.


  • The Princess Bride gets some weird names in foreign releases:
    • The Swedish title, however, is The Minute of Pale Death, a reference to a 1922 poem by Birger Sjöberg, which is about a funeral. Even knowing the reference, it still doesn't make sense.
    • In Danish the title is The Princess and the Crazy Knights, which was coined in the hope that it would remind people of Monty Python and the Crazy Knights (Monty Python and the Holy Grail.) It didn't work.
  • One of the main reasons given for The Shawshank Redemption failing at the box-office was the opaqueness of its title: it makes perfect sense in context, but as "Shawshank" is a fictional prison, you have to have seen the movie or read the book to even know the gist of what's going on.
    • In one of the few happy cases of changing the film's original name in Mexico, the movie was renamed Dream of Flight, which is more appropriate.
    • Ditto for the Swedish title: Nyckeln till Frihet - "The Key to Freedom" (you know, hope.)
    • One can debate whether the Danish title is that appropriate, as it is called "A World Outside" (of the prison walls, that is).
    • The Brazilian title is a combination of the two above: A Dream of Freedom.
    • Then again, the title in Finland was "Rita Hayworth -- avain pakoon" which is pretty much a spoiler to the movie plot, meaning "Rita Hayworth -- the key to escape"
    • Russian title of the movie means "Escape from Shawshank", both spoiling the ending and moving it to the category Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
    • The Hungarian title provides an interesting twist: Prisoners of Hope. It's actually an interesting title, which makes you curious about the movie.
  • Blood Simple, which is an expression from the Dashiell Hammett novel Red Harvest and means "slightly crazy because people keep getting killed around you all the time."
  • O Brother, Where Art Thou? is a reference to a 1941 film, Sullivan's Travels
  • The Green Mile. The Death Row guards call it the mile, and the floor happens to be green. In the book, it's explained further as an allusion to "The Last Mile," common prison slang for Death Row.
  • Love Actually, truncated from the line "Love actually is all around."
  • Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo. The film is about dancers, and "Electric Boogaloo" is a style of funk dancing. In keeping with the theme of funny-ass names, the main actors of the film series also happen to be nicknamed "Shabba-doo" and "Boogaloo Shrimp."
  • Blade Runner. The term is the nickname used for bounty hunters who identify and kill renegade androids posing as humans. Is it because they live within the razor's edge between humanity and machine? Is it because they practice unsafe scissor usage? No, it actually doesn't have any deeper meaning. The filmmakers lifted the term from an unrelated book because it sounded cool.[1]
  • The Hudsucker Proxy, another Coen Bros. flick. So called because Tim Robbins' character acts as a stand-in decision maker (proxy) for Hudsucker Industries' executives and shareholders.
  • The soccer movie title Bend It Like Beckham confused many American viewers, who at that point had never heard of David Beckham. And many of those who had at least a vague idea of who he was had no idea what "it" was, or how Beckham bent "it."
  • Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is actually a Vehicle Title, in that the title of the movie is the name of the (unexpectedly) flying car which is the primary MacGuffin of the story. The car itself was named by the owner's children for the noises that its engine makes. But on the meta level it goes one step even further back -- it was based on the somewhat shorter name ("Chitty Bang-Bang") for a real series of famous race cars in the early 20th century (alluded to with the racing/accident montage that opens the film and leads into Chitty's presence in a junk yard). They in turn were named for what was then a borderline off-color joke about what WWI soldiers did when they got their leave chits.
  • The title of the British movie It's All Gone Pete Tong makes little sense unless you know it's an example of Cockney Rhyming Slang based on the name of the British DJ Pete Tong. Tong does appear in the movie As Himself, but the expression in the title is never explained.
  • Martha Marcy May Marlene. Martha is the protagonist's real name and "Marcy May" is what the leader of the cult she joins christens her upon her induction. Additionally, when answering the phone, all male members of the cult are instructed to use the name "Matthew Lewis" so as to avoid revealing their identities, while all female members are to go by "Marlene Lewis".
  • No mention is made in Chariots of Fire of fiery chariots. The title is about striving for high ideals. It's a reference to the hymn "Jerusalem", based on William Blake's poem "And Did Those Feet In Ancient Time". The hymn is sung at the beginning and end of the movie, but you'd have to really be paying attention to catch the line.

Bring me my Bow of burning gold;
Bring me my Arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!
I will not cease from Mental Fight
Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand:
Till we have built Jerusalem,
In England's green & pleasant Land

  • August Underground was originally going to be called Peter, but it was changed fairly late to a title that was the random combination of August (when filming took place) and underground film.
  • Don't Drink the Water is a film (and a play) by Woody Allen, that takes place in a communist country. While its a logical guess that the communists may not have their water system working well, no one ever references that the water is unsafe. Then again, no one ever drinks water onstage during the show either. So you never know.
  • Five Across the Eyes - There are five main characters, and they're travelling through an area nicknamed "the Eyes".
  • Curse of Pirate Death - The villain, a Ghost Pirate, is nicknamed "Pirate Death".
  • They Might Be Giants, based on a play of the same name. Who are "they" and are they giants are not? The title doesn't have anything to do directly with the plot. It's taken from a short monologue in which the main character argues that people need to think of things "as they might be" rather than just "as they are." He references Don Quixote, stating that Don Quixote was mad because he thought the windmills were giants when he should have thought, "They might be giants." In other words, embrace open-mindedness and curiosity.


  • The Catcher in The Rye. Holden remembers the poem "comin through the rye", and thought the words "if a body meet a body" were "if a body catch a body". He imagined that he was in a gigantic field of rye where thousands of children were running around playing a giant game of itdoesntreallymatter. The field was on the edge of a cliff, and Holden had to catch any kids that got too close to the edge. Crazy, but there you go.
  • The Mocking Program by Alan Dean Foster is something of a subversion in that it makes perfect sense after The Reveal and is completely appropriate to the plot. Given how late The Reveal is in the story, however, one can't help but suspect the book would have benefited if it had been subject to It Was His Sled.
  • The Silence of the Lambs refers to Starling being haunted by the memory of lambs screaming as they were slaughtered, and Lecter's suggestion that saving Catherine Martin might help put an end to that.
  • The title of Stephen Fry's novel The Stars' Tennis Balls is from a metaphor used in The Duchess of Malfi: "We are the stars' tennis balls, struck and bandied which way please them," meaning, "We have no control over our fate."
  • Wuthering Heights sounds a bit like gibberish to modern audiences due to the fact that the esoteric word "wuthering," meaning in effect "stormy," is not widely known. The book's title is the name of the inhospitable location of the story, and also refers to the volatile emotions of the plot.
  • A Clockwork Orange. The "clockwork" part clearly has something to do with the way the treatment makes Alex programmable, but Burgess has given several different explanations for what the title is supposed to mean:
    • The phrase comes from "as queer as a clockwork orange," a phrase Burgess claimed to have heard, but of which there is no record of ever being used before he wrote the book.
    • "Orange" is a pun on the Malay word for man, though there are no other Malay words used in the novel.
    • "Orange" refers to the human capacity for "color and sweetness." Oranges are natural, clockwork is not (like brainwashing).
  • Robert Ludlum's "The Propername Abstractnoun" Mad Lib Thriller Titles are notorious for sounding fancy while telling you nothing.
  • Tuck Everlasting: Tuck is the surname of a family who have become immortal. It still doesn't make much grammatical sense once you know that.

Live Action TV

  • Battlestar Galactica. As silly as it sounds, it makes sense in context. The show is about a starship named Galactica, which is a battlestar, a portmanteau of battleship and starship. That, and it was the 70's.
    • In Finnish it is translated as Taisteluplaneetta Galactica ("Battle planet Galactica") which makes no sense whatsoever.
      • But then, taken literally, "Battlestar" is an even stranger name for a spacecraft than "Battleplanet." At least a planet can have people living on it.
  • The Naked Brothers Band has used the Tagline "Real band, real brothers. Not really naked".
  • The show Stella took its name from the original comedy group, which named itself after the unborn daughter of the club manager who booked their first show.
  • The Mighty Boosh is named after a childhood memory of co-creator Noel Fielding, when a 6-year old Portuguese friend of Michael Fielding (who plays Naboo on the show) described Michael's large hairstyle as "a mighty boosh." Ironically, Noel's character Vince Noir has a large, distinctive hairstyle that is the subject of many jokes, while Naboo's hair is almost always covered by a hat.
  • The lyrics to the end credits theme of Frasier, "Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs", sound nonsensical, like any good jazz lyrics should. The title has been explained as referring to the "confused" callers Frasier gets on his radio show, as well as the situations he's in which can't be undone.
    • Um, the writers obviously didn't know what the modern definition of "tossed salad" is.
    • Given the above-mentioned meaning for tossed salad, the scrambled egg part could also suffer some unfortunate misinterpretations.
  • Thirty Rock is impossible to parse unless you know that "Rock" refers to a building and that "30 Rock" is supposed to be an address along the lines of "7 Washington Tower" or "26 New Building".
    • Specifically, 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York, also known as the GE Building, the location of NBC's studios.
  • Breaking Bad is likewise difficult to make sense of if you haven't run across that particular bit of slang (it refers to a good or at least conventional person suddenly going off the rails). Jesse uses the term in the first episode.


  • Most band names, hence the trope A Good Name for a Rock Band.
    • Three words: Faster, Harder, Scooter!
  • Motion City Soundtrack
  • Blue Oyster Cult (both the band name and most of their lyrics) appear to be an example. However, all of their trademark cryptic lyrics combine to form a long, sprawling mythology, as most of them are taken from Imaginos, a mock-mythic cycle of epic poetry created by Sandy Pearlman before the band was even started. You've heard of concept albums; Blue Öyster Cult was supposed to be a concept band.
    • The name of the band is an anagram of Cully Stout Beer, which the members of the band claim to have been drinking while they brainstormed. (The umlaut is just cool.) However, there's no evidence whatsoever that such a (redundantly named) stout beer ever existed.
      • The band name was parodied in Strong Bads Cool Game for Attractive People: Episode 3 (Baddest of the Bands), when Strong Bad has to come up with a name for his band, comprised of himself, Homsar, and the King of Town. Here, however, the words were selected at random, so the end band name is a Word Salad Title.
  • Many Of Montreal's songs have titles that kind of make sense if you stand at just the right angle, squint a bit, and then give up and read some interviews. One of the most prominent examples is "Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse (Chemicals)," which is apparently about how the enthusiasm for his music had, like Prometheus's fire, cursed him, estranging him from his wife, with whom he'd lived on a street in Oslo called "Heimdalsgate." Neither Prometheus nor Heimdalsgate are ever directly mentioned in the lyrics.
  • Panic! at the Disco's first album "A Fever You Can't Sweat Out" had a lot of examples of this trope: "London Beckons Songs About Money Written By Machines", "There's a Good Reason These Tables Are Numbered Honey, You Just Haven't Thought Of It Yet", "The Only Difference Between Martyrdom And Suicide Is Press Coverage", "Nails for Breakfast, Tacks for Snacks".
    • Many of their song titles and lyrics are actually book or movie quotes, and more impressively, they've even spanned two songs "Lying is the most fun a girl can have without taking her clothes off" is followed by the song "but it's better if you do" (creating a full line from the movie Closer).
    • "... Press Coverage" is a quote from a Chuck Palahniuk novel.
    • Panic's sophmore album didn't fare any better: "Nine in the Afternoon" only makes sense after Word of God explains that they were stuck in a windowless rehearsal space and were trying to determine what time it was without the use of, you know, a watch or clock. Genius, boys. Genius.
      • As well as the rest of the tracks on "Pretty. Odd.", such as "From A Mountain In The Middle of the Cabins"?!
    • Many of the Decaydance bands, like Panic!, are known for this. The Cab ("Zzzzz") and Cobra Starship ("Send My Love to the Dance Floor, I'll See You in Hell (Hey Mister DJ)") are repeat offenders.
      • Fall Out Boy were obviously the main influence on all of these bands, considering such gems as "Reinventing the Wheel to Run Myself Over", "'Tell That Mick He Just Made My List of Things to Do Today'" (an inexplicable quote from Rushmore), "Seven Minutes In Heaven (Atavan Halen)", "Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying (Do Your Part To Save the Scene and Stop Going to Shows)", "I've Got a Dark Alley and A Bad Idea that Says You Should Just Shut Your Mouth (Summer Song)", "Don't You Know Who I think I am?", "I'm Like a Lawyer With the Way I'm Always Trying to Get You Off (Me & You)", "Disloyal Order of Waterbuffaloes"... I could go on, but I think you get the picture.
      • Speaking of Fall Out Boy- Bang the Doldrums, anyone?
  • Indie horror-rock band the pAper chAse fills their albums with such gems as: "Abby, You're Going to Burn For What You've Done to Me", "The House is Alive and the House is Hungry", and "Throw Your Body On the Apparatus". It's possible "The House is Alive and the House is Hungry" was based off the novel House of Leaves
  • New York band Coheed and Cambria have put out four albums as of this writing. They are named, in order of publication: The Second Stage Turbine Blade, In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3, Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness, and Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV, Volume Two: No World for Tomorrow. Presumably, they'll put out number one, some time.
    • They all make sense, if you know the Coheed and Cambria mythos—album titles are the ONLY part that makes sense--
      • Second Stage Turbine Blade refers to Claudio's (Sanchez) dad's old job, according to Wikipedia. It also refers—as far as I can tell—to Coheed's arm blades, and the fact that this is the second time that he's used them.
      • In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3: it refers the planet of Silent Earth: 3 (presumably the planet Paris: Earth post-MonStar), and Inferno's Pioneers' struggle to keep themselves a secret, including a character being blinded, drilled through the hand, cut up, burned, and thrown in the streets—and rebuilt.
      • GAIBSIV: Vol One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness is a reference to Claudio's (Kilgannon) promise at the end of IKSSE: 3 to "Burn Star IV", the centre of the storyline's fictitious solar system. From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness is about the Writer (the character of the writer, not Claudio S.) writing his girlfriend into a story for fear of losing her, and he's soon inside the story, seeing it through his madness.
      • No World For Tomorrow is a continuation of Claudio K attempting to burn Star IV, and No World For Tomorrow is the fate of Heaven's Fence.
      • And now part one has been released - Year of the Black Rainbow.
  • The band Jimmy Eat World. According to Wikipedia, the name came from the caption on a crayon drawing by guitarist Tom Linton's younger brother Ed in the aftermath of one of Ed's fights with their other brother, Jim, depicting...Jimmy eating the world. Linton saw A Good Name for a Rock Band and went with it.
  • The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. Wikipedia says they got their name by tacking words onto a wall and picking them at random.
  • Bang Camaro got their name by finding the two sexiest words in the English language.
  • Though some might think it was meant to be deep, the Grateful Dead literally pulled their name out of a dictionary open at random.
  • Relient K loves this trope. They have albums called The Anatomy of the Tongue in Cheek, Two Lefts Don't Make a Right... But Three Do, and Five Score and Seven Years Ago. They can mostly be understood/explained. And then there's two songs: "Crayons Can Melt on Us for All I Care" and "The Only Thing Worse than Beating a Dead Horse is Betting On One." Again... understandable. Eventually.
  • The New Pornographers write their lyrics as Word Salad more often than not. Letter From an Occupant seems to be most famous for this.
    • Carl Newman's songs represent this. Dan Bejar's songs, on the other hand, only seem like Word Salad: It's often implied that there is some metaverse that has formed out of Bejar's lyrics.
  • The Mars Volta's lyrics also seem to be made of word salad (as well as their titles), but after a few late nights of research on the fan forums, you can begin to deduce the meanings.
    • Of course, in their case, the lyrics are literally supposed to evoke bizarre imagery in order to decipher the meaning of the song; they can still make your brain hurt, though.
  • Norwegian metal band Dimmu Borgir's album titles: Enthrone Darkness Triumphant, Godless Savage Garden, Spiritual Black Dimensions, Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia (possibly the worst offender), Death Cult Armageddon.
  • Tori Amos' "In the Springtime of His Voodoo", "Programmable Soda", and "The Power of Orange Knickers" kinda make sense after a few hours of studying and dissecting the lyrics.
  • The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band exemplify this trope. They were originally called the Bonzo Dog Dada Band, but Vivian Stanshall got tired of having to explain Dadaism to every other fan that he talked to, and proposed a name change.
  • 65daysofstatic in band name, which has never been clearly explained, as well as such song titles as "The Distant and Mechanized Glow of Eastern European Dance Parties" and "Install a Beak in the Heart That Clucks Time in Arabic".
    • This is very common in post-rock.
    • A Silver Mt. Zion, Stars of the Lid, Labradford, God is an Astronaut, Explosions in the Sky, Gastr del Sol, The Sea and Cake, Do Make Say Think, Lounge Piranha...
    • Godspeed You! Black Emperor was the title of an old Japanese film about bikers.
  • Music is Music as Devices are Kisses is Everything.
  • Current 93 in general. It might make sense if you have a Ph.D. in religious studies.
    • Album titles:
      • Swastikas for Noddy
      • Cats Drunk on Copper
      • Black Ships Ate The Sky
      • How I Devoured Apocalypse Balloon
      • Aleph on Hallucinatory Mountain
    • Songs:
      • Antichrist and Barcodes
      • This Autistic Imperium is Nihil Reich
      • Aleph is the Butterfly Net
  • Camper Van Beethoven's Telephone Free Landslide Victory (the band name may come off as one too, but it's actually a pun). One story has it that the album was originally going to just be Telephone Landslide Victory, but the "free" somehow got added in due to miscommunication, and the band went with it because they liked that it made even less sense than the intended title.
  • "Learnalilgivinanlovin" by Gotye. Almost a combo of Word Salad Title and Word Puree Title. But it still essentially makes sense though the reason it's all one word is unknown.
  • The Police had two albums titled with Gratuitous Spanish (Outlandos D'amour, which actually isn't correct Spanish, or French) and Gratuitous French (Regatta de Blanc ). For the third, they opted for a word salad, Zenyatta Mondatta (apparently two invented portmanteau words, hinting at Zen, at Jomo Kenyatta, at monde - French for world -... and Reggatta, the previous album). Rejected titles included Caprido Von Renislam (referring to the street, Catharina van Renneslaan, where the studio was located) and Trimondo Blondomina (suggesting three blonds dominating the world).
  • Muscle Museum was supposedly named by taking a dictionary word either side of Muse.
  • The King Crimson song "The World's My Oyster Soup Kitchen Floor Wax Museum" sounds like nonsense, and it is, but both the song and lyrics are word-associations with each word (or phrase, as in "The World's My Oyster") related to the next in some way. So while saying it "makes sense" might be overstating, it at least is explainable in context.
    • "Mother Hold the Candle Steady While I Shave the Chicken's Lip" - an instrumental improvisation, so it needn't make sense.
  • Pink Floyd. The name itself doesn't make any sense. There is no band member named "Pink" or "Floyd" (but see below).
    • The Dark Side of the Moon (a voice notes at the end that "there is no dark side of the moon")
    • The Wall lampshades this with "Pink" being the lead character.
    • Have a Cigar alludes to this with the line "By the way, which one's Pink?"
      • Actually "Pink Floyd" is a shortened version of their earlier name: "The Pink Floyd Sound", derived from the names of two blues musicians founder Syd Barrett liked: Pink Anderson and Floyd Council
  • Frank Zappa's albums tend to have this, such as Uncle Meat, Burnt Weeny Sandwich, The Grand Wazoo, Zoot Allures, and Sheik Yerbouti.
  • Post-rock band Giraffes? Giraffes! (punctuation sic) love this trope. Song names like "Fucking ants man! Where they coming from? (Let's hang the Carroll footnoteitsists)" are generally a clue.
  • "Strawberry Letter 23" by Shuggie Otis, made famous by The Brothers Johnson. Despite sounding like pure word salad, the title means exactly what it sounds like: Otis' girlfriend had written letters to him, presumably 22 of them, on strawberry-scented paper.
  • The first two My Chemical Romance records ( I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love and Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge were chock full of these. The third one, slightly less. They blame it on Morrissey.
    • Honey This Mirror Isn't Big Enough For the Both Of Us, Headfirst For Halos, It's Not A Fashion Statement, It's A Fucking Deathwish, You Know What They Do To Guys Like Us In Prison, I Never Told You What I Do For A Living
  • Brand New on "Deja Entendu" and "Your Favorite Weapon"
    • Jude Law And A Semester Abroad, I Will Play My Game Beneath The Spin Light, Okay I Believe You But My Tommy Gun Don't, Good To Know That If I Ever Need Attention All I Have To Do Is Die"
  • Mindless Self Indulgence has a few of these. Not long titles, but titles that have nothing to do with anything. But considering who they are...
  • "Bruised Water" by Chicane and Natasha Bedingfield, named so since it's a mashup of Chicane's "Saltwater" and Bedingfield's "I Bruise Easily".
  • Nightwish has tons! "The Pharaoh Sails to Orion," "Ghost Love Score," "Deep Silent Complete," "Bare Grace Misery" and "Master Passion Greed," for example.
  • Canvas Solaris, a technical metal band from Georgia, names all their songs using seemingly random nerdy-sounding words/phrases and technical terms all thrown together. Examples include "Cosmopolysyndeton", "Conveyance of Flux", "Reticular Consciousness", and of course "Dark Matter, Accretion Disk, And Interacting Binary Neutron Star In A Self-Reproducing Inflationary Universe".
  • Chiodos seem to be fond of this trope. From All's Well That Ends Well we have No Hardcore Dancing In The Living Room, There's No Penguins In Alaska and To Trixie And Reptile, Thanks For Everything, and Bone Palace Ballet (and the Updated Rerelease The Grand Coda) brings us Lexington (Joey Pea Pot With A Monkey Face), I Didn't Say I Was Powerful, I Said I Was A Wizard, Teeth The Size Of Piano Keys and We Swam From Albatross, The Day We Lost Kailey Coast. The forthcoming third album Illuminaudio has Stratovolcano Mouth, Love Is A Cat From Hell and Hey Zeus! The Dungeon.
  • "Colecanth is Android"? What does that mean?
  • For a period of time, Blue's Clues-host-turned-musician Steve Burns has a song title generator on his website that churns out song titles that're made of this trope.
  • The Super Furry Animals had a song, "Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch (In Space)".
    • The above is, I believe, the longest town name in the world.
  • Daft Punk got their name from a review in newspaper.
  • The Swedish chiptune band Rymdreglage received complaints from international fans that their name is hard to spell and pronounce for non-Scandinavians, so they selected two English words at random from a cement mixer and came up with "Ninja Moped". They speculate on the name's meaning on their website.
  • Dance Gavin Dance has their share of strange titles, such as It's Safe to Say You Dig the Backseat, or And I Told Them I Invented Times New Roman, or why not Surprise! I'm From Cuba, Everyone Has One Brain.
  • younnat has song titles like "Cardiologists Decided Not To Go To Bed"
  • The video game cover band Armcannon has an album titled RETURN of the ATTACK of the LEGEND of PIZZOR.
  • Tommy Stinson's Village Gorilla Head, as well as it's title track. In one interview Stinson said that "Village Gorilla Head" was originally just a working title for the song, which he thought sounded like a cross between The Village People, Gorillaz and Radiohead.
  • Nirvana's seminal song "Smells Like Teen Spirit." Kurt Cobain took the phrase from some graffiti that a friend had scrawled on his wall: "Kurt Smells Like Teen Spirit," which poked fun at Cobain for having sex with his girlfriend so frequently that he smelled like her deodorant. Cobain didn't know what Teen Spirit was, so he thought the phrase had something to do with youthful rebellion. He didn't find out the phrase's real meaning until after he'd written the song.
  • Imperial Teen's The Hair The TV The Baby & The Band sounds like a list of unconnected nouns, but actually describes what the members were doing during the five year gap between albums: One was a hair stylist, one was writing for television, one was raising a baby, and one was working on another musical project.
  • They Might Be Giants takes their name from a play, which was later adapted into a film as well. The main character thinks he's Sherlock Holmes and makes a speech about open-mindeness and curiosity in which he argues that Don Quixote should have thought that the windmills "might be giants" instead of being sure that they were.

Tabletop Games

  • Ancient Ruler Dinosaur King DKidz Adventure - rather sensibly retitled Dinosaur King when released in English.

Video Games

  • Final Fantasy has become a Word Salad Title retroactively. At the time of its development, Squaresoft was on the brink of bankruptcy and decided to go out with a bang, producing one big "final fantasy". To everyone's surprise, the game became a monster hit and went on to set the standard for nearly all J-RPGs that followed in its wake. Twenty-some years later and we're now up to Final Fantasy XIV and counting, and that's not including all the spin-off games, re-releases, and cross-media tie-in productions.
    • Some of the side-games have some impressively strange and difficult to understand names. Dirge of Cerberus refers to the main character's gun and symbol. Advent Children is an ironic comparison of Christ to Sephiroth (and there are also a lot of children). Revenant Wings might be referring to the lack of emotion of the winged-species, or perhaps the various undead winged-villains. It gets worse: Final Fantasy Versus XIII and Final Fantasy Type-0. Who even knows what all that even means?
      • Agito XIII's subtitle was changed to "Type-0." Which also makes little sense. The word Agito would have referred to the title of a Savior in the game's mythology.
      • Not to mention that the Final Fantasy XIII games come under the collective title of Fabula Nova Crystallis (Latin for New Tale of the Crystal), despite having very little to with each other other than vague thematic connections.
      • The "Versus" part in Final Fantasy Versus XIII could refer to the game being Tetsuya Nomura's vision of Final Fantasy XIII, as opposed to Yoichi Wada's game.
    • Dissidia Final Fantasy. "Dissidia" is the the Latin word for 'conflicts'. The prequel is called Dissidia 012: Final Fantasy, wherein 012 is pronounced "Duodecim"; Latin for the number twelve. It's about the twelfth iteration of the Groundhog Day Loop, but the name makes absolutely no sense to people who don't have it explained to them.
      • Then there's the tie-in prequel, whose title reads Dissidia Duodecim Prologus 012 Final Fantasy. One assumes Square was by this point asking for mockery.
    • Final Fantasy Tactics A2. The A2 obviously refers to the fact that it's the sequel to Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, but since it's on the DS rather than the GBA, they reduced "Advance" to "A" to avert Artifact Title.
  • In and of itself, Pokémon sounds nonsensical, but is in fact short for Pocket Monster (or, to directly transliterate from Japanese, Poketto Monsutaa).
    • What's aggravating, the acute accent on the 'é' was added to emphasize the correct pronunciation—not "pokey" or "poke" as in "jab with a finger"—and it is still mispronounced.
    • That is, among English speakers, which makes sense since most of them probably don't know what an acute accent is. In languages that have the acute accent (French comes to mind), the mispronunciation is not made.
  • Guilty Gear. While it is not about cogwheels or machinery with troubled pasts, the name itself refers to the protagonist who is a creature called a "gear" and is partially responsible for events that lead to the deaths of many people. In the first game it even receives a Title Drop, the protagonist referring to himself as such, in one of his endings.
  • The Neon Genesis Evangelion game called "Girlfriend of Steel" took place in an Alternate Universe where the Jet Alone project succeeded in creating metal mecha in competition with the Evangelion. The title likely refers to Mana, a runaway pilot of one of these mecha. It's possible that "Girlfriend of Steel" is a poor translation of the English term "Iron Maiden." There was a sequel to this, which changes the genre of the Evangelion-verse into that of a Dating Sim. However, it was a sequel in name only, as it had nothing to do with the first "Girlfriend of Steel" game. So when a manga of this second game was produced, in the West, it was given the title "Angelic Days."
    • Neon Genesis Evangelion itself can appear to be this is one doesn't know Greek since the "English" title is, in fact, a Greek title - the Word of God's translation of "Shinseiki Evangelion" - which is pretty close to literal; most native speakers of English and Greek, however, would have used Neo instead of Neon, though they mean the same (Greek for "new").
    • Similarly, the official name of the first game was "Koutetsu no Girlfriend" (Steel Girlfriend). Iron Maiden is listed on the back cover. The second game has both English names on the front cover, right below the kanji. The comic was likely changed for the American release, so they wouldn't be sued into a hole.
      • As stated above in Anime, Neon is "New One" so it becomes New One Gospel of Creation or directly as New One Origin Gospel. In either case it seems to be more accurate to the aftermath of episode 26.
  • Narbacular Drop, the spiritual predecessor to Portal, had its name chosen because it would be easy to find in online search engines.
  • Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow. Parodied in Penny Arcade with rejected titles, such as Splinter Cell: Peanut Butter Monkey and Splinter Cell: Puppy Helmet. In some circles, Penny Arcade's point was accepted with such vigor that the game was more often referred to as Puppy Helmet than by its actual name. Swedish PC Gamer jokingly referred to the game as Splinter Cell: Flundra Okänd, which translates to "Splinter Cell: [the] Flounder [is] unknown".
  • Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean. Not sure 'bout the wings bit, but the world once had an ocean that was swallowed by an evil god and now resides inside the Queen of Wazn. Yeah, this game was made on LSD.
    • The title of the prequel, Baten Kaitos Origins, before localization effectively shoved its predecessor aside. Baten Kaitos II: The Beginning of the Wings and the Heir of the Gods. Although both are sort-of explained, it isn't by the main story- it's explained in a sub-plot that takes place 1000 years in the past inside the player/guardian spirit/afterling/Marno's memories.
  • Makai Kingdom may seem like an example at first, until you learn that "makai" is what is translated (but not literally) as "the netherworld" in Nippon Ichi games, so it is actually Gratuitous Japanese
    • Would you rather have it as Phantom Kingdom? For those that don't know, that's the game's original name in Japan.
  • Valkyrie Profile: It's, as far as I can tell, the profile of a valkyrie. Maybe several valkyries. "Profile" meaning "a short biographical account of somebody" in this case. It could also refer to the side view used for normal gameplay, since a view of someone from the side is called a profile view.
  • Metal Gear Solid. "Metal Gear" is the deadly robot of the title, with a name that isn't actually explained all that well. "Solid" refers to the lead character Solid Snake (whose name is meant to be a contrast between sneakiness and strength) and that it was the first game in the series to feature 3D graphics, and hence "solids".
  • Syphon Filter. For some reason, the virus which plays a part in at least the earlier games is called the "syphon filter" virus, as though it was derived from something deadly to tank-kept fish. Late 1990s to early 2000 stealth games seemingly had a word salad title as a TRC. The Syphon Filter virus is able to target "...any specific demographics, ethnic groups. It can wipe out all continents, except those who are chosen to survive." A siphon sucks liquid from a place to another; a filter keeps undesirable elements away. The similarity? Cleansing.
  • Samurai Shodown, although it does have samurai and is a fighting game, it also has catgirls, ninja, fat guys, nature spirits, kabuki actors, and cranes disguising themselves as maids as playable characters. The samurai class was the warrior class, not the "we have to dress in a specific type of armor and use a katana" class. Granted, historically most ninja were not from the warrior class but it's still a fitting title because once you get rid of the class system, a samurai is simply a warrior.
    • The original title is Samurai Spirits. The implication is that they have the mindset of a samurai...be strong, be brave, fight to the death, stand up to evil, etc...but are not literally samurai. This makes sense, as the time period (the late 18th century) would be well beyond the era of bushido-bound loyal-unto-death noble warriors. One of Galford's prefight quotes even lampshades this: "My eyes are blue, but I have samurai spirits!"
    • You can also argue that this is an Artifact Title from the first and second Haohmaru-centric (well, kinda) games, as Haohmaru definitely is a samurai (well, kinda).
  • Gunforce: Battle Fire Engulfed Terror Island.
  • Real Bout Fatal Fury Special: Dominated Mind: the PlayStation port of Real Bout Fatal Fury Special, which is an Oddly-Named Sequel 2: Electric Boogaloo to Real Bout Fatal Fury (and not really a sequel, strictly speaking), itself an Oddly-Named Sequel 2: Electric Boogaloo in the series lineup. The port gets its own name because it gets lots of extra stuff, including a story.
    • The "dominated mind" in question is Billy Kane, whom White brainwashes into fighting you.
  • Quite a few accompanying English titles from the Touhou series are like this. For instance, Phantasmagoria of Flower's View. Well, Phantasmagoria means something like a hallucination of some sort so it all boils to seeing flowers that aren't really there, which is somewhere around half-way to what the plot's actually about. And this is just the start and no, Shoot The Bullet is not about what you think it is about.
    • The average Touhou game title typically does not make any sense until after beating the game or fighting a certain boss and is rarely as simple as stated. Examples include Embodiment of Scarlet Devil, Perfect Cherry Blossom, Subterranean Animism, and Ten Desires. The few straightforward games include Great Fairy War and the incredibly flexible Mountain of Faith. Though this has led to many acronyms for the sake of simplicity, the fans love to play it up too (Concealed the Conclusion).
      • This led to a curious incident some where Westerners assumed that the fighting game Hisoutensoku was actually it's translation "Undefined Natural Law/Undefinable by Natural Law" because the latter is such a ZUN-worthy title.
      • Supplemental materials for the series also tend to use such titles.
  • Armored Core. "Nine Breaker?" "For Answer?" You can sort of justify them--"Nine Breaker" is an in-universe title given to a Raven who beats the #1 pilot in the arena, who's usually called Nine Ball, and "For Answer" is just an Incredibly Lame Pun, as it's the follow up to Armored Core 4. But even then, they're still just weird, and they're still broken English.
  • BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger. Not a disaster movie about blue fire, but one of the names of the Artifact of Doom the protagonist possesses. As for the "Calamity Trigger" part; considering it's an Artifact of Doom, that would certainly trigger a calamity. Could also be explained by the fact that said protaganist is a part of an Eldritch Abomination that caused The End of the World as We Know It in the games backstory, and at the end of his story mode, he is thrown into some sort of time portal into the past with the other half of said Abomination, where she fuses with him against his will to become the Black Beast. Thus, Triggering a Calamity. (He gets better....sorta.)
  • Kingdom Hearts is starting to venture into this territory. The first Oddly-Named Sequel 2: Electric Boogaloo subtitle was Chain of Memories, which described Namine's ability to break the links of memories between, and sounded pretty cool even before explanation. After Kingdom Hearts II, though, there was Coded, which did kinda make sense...and now we have the DS and PSP games 358/2 Days (pronounced Three Five Eight Days Over Two) and Birth By Sleep respectively. 358/2 Days is feasibly explained by the game taking place over the course of, well, 358 days for two people. Birth By Sleep refers to the sleep (coma) of the main character Ventus, which led to the birth (awakening) of Sora as the protagonist of the events in Kingdom Hearts. There's also a Title Drop in the secret ending, when Ansem the Wise refers to those waiting for Sora to release them from their various fates as those waiting for 'their new beginning, their birth by sleep'.
    • The "3D" in Kingdom Hearts 3D stands for "Dream Drop Distance", and refers to "how deeply you drop into your dreams" or more clearly, "how far you fall into dreaming". It's still pretty much a Word Salad Title, chosen principally to provide a Super Title 64 Advance.
    • There's also Reverse Rebirth (aka Riku mode) in Chain of Memories. There is a bit of logic to the title when taken separately, (Riku is descending from the top of the castle when Sora was climbing it and the Rebirth part should be obvious) but when you put it together it makes no sense whatsoever.
      • Actually this is a "pun" that got Lost in Translation — if you transcribe them into Japanese kana, Reverse and Rebirth can be written the exact same way (リバース, ribâsu, is a proper transliteration for both). Of course, the game uses two different transliteration to make sure it sill makes sense, but even then, the Japanese pronunciations are very close if not identical.
  • The Ace Attorney series pulled out one of these to break up what was becoming a string of Colon Cancer titles: Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth. It makes sense in context, as the game focuses on an "ace" attorney, Miles Edgeworth, who solves murders through investigations.
  • Silhouette Mirage: Reprogrammed Hope. Outside Japan, the title was shortened to Silhouette Mirage. This one makes sense in context. Silhouette Mirage refers to the two character alignments, the brawny Silhouettes and the brainy Mirages. Reprogrammed Hope is a bit stickier, but given that the game takes place inside a series of computer programs and that the protagonist is attempting to repair it, the elements are there.
  • Magic Planet Snack.
  • Fear Effect and its sequel Retro Helix. "Fear Effect" refers to the gameplay element in which your character's health and vulnerability are affected by fear. "Retro Helix" refers to a type of DNA that is connected to EINDS, an AIDS-like disease, in the game.
  • X 3 Albion Prelude. "Albion" refers to the player ship of the (currently unreleased) X: Rebirth, the Albion Skunk, while "prelude" refers to the fact that this expansion is a prelude to the gate system shutdown that precedes the thousand-odd-year timeskip between X3AP and X:R.

Web Comics

  • Xkcd is not an acronym for some little-known computer protocol, it is merely a nerdy webcomic. That doesn't stop it from making several comics about what XKCD is or suggesting weird backronyms such as "eXcellence Kriegsmarine College of Demolitions" and "Xtreme Kansas College of Dentistry."
    • Word of God has it that Randall, before he even thought of a webcomic, wanted to come up with a short string he could search string that could only link to something to do with him (or to mojibake). This is still true...it's just that a lot more sites have something to do with him now.
    • It's worth noting that the numerical values of X (24), K (11), C (3) and D (4) add up to 42.
  • Bob and George is a completed webcomic that for the first ten or so story arcs contained no characters named Bob and no characters named George. This is because it evolved from a filler comic that was shown while the author was trying to make a hand-drawn comic that ultimately failed three times and became what is arguably the first spritecomic.
  • The Phoenix Requiem has no phoenix in it. And no requiem, for that matter.
  • Vinigortonio. The name is a mashup of the names Vinicius, Igor and Antonio, even though only the first two are actual characters in the comic. Antonio is never mentioned at all.

Web Original

  • Lonelygirl15. Fans from before the videos were hosted on lg15.com will know that lonelygirl15 was original protagonist Bree's screenname on YouTube and Revver, but she is never called that in the series itself. Also an example of Artifact Title.
  • Tay Zonday (Adam Nyerere Bahner), composer of Chocolate Rain said "I wanted a catchy artist name that had zero search results on Google"
  • Chaos Fighters has two examples: Cyberion Strike refers to the name of the attack launched by the Big Bad at the end and KIMIA which refers to potassium (kalium as of IUPAC official name) iodide which declared as being in MIA status.
  • Marble Hornets, in universe, is the student film that Jay and Alex were making. In reality, it is just the first two things the creators saw when brainstorming the title.
  • Nitro Game Injection. How the hell does one inject nitro into games?

Western Animation

  • Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go! sounds like a parody of anime titles, the Power Rangers series, and a rip-off of Teen Titans all in one...and that's before you actually watch it and see that it is indeed a show about a team of robotic monkeys (and one human kid) who pilot a Super Robot and are called the "Hyperforce" for short. The "Go" is just something they shout out as a battle cry (and possibly a pun of the Japanese word for "five", as there are five monkeys).
  • Winx Club. In the show, winx has no meaning—Bloom just made it up. (The 4Kids dub changed it to the term for fairy magic.) Apparently, though, it's derived from the English word "wings."
  • Evil Con Carne: "Con Carne" is the (sort of evil) main character's surname, though it's also Spanish for "with meat", possibly a reference to him not only being a Brain In a Jar but also having his stomach in a jar.

Real Life

  • There's an Australian city in the state of Queensland called the City of Townsville. Yes. The City of Town City. Or maybe City Town Village. Makes sense when you realise it was founded by Robert Towns. Rather than The Powerpuff Girls.
  • Every single show dog and show horse must have a unique name. This leads to...unusual names.
    • Also Thoroughbred racehorses, which gets odder because if a horse wins enough races, people allude to his name in naming his children. For example, one of Secretariat's sons was named "General Assembly."


  • Mitch Hedberg's comedy albums were named for jokes, but not jokes on the album.

Anime and Manga

  • Super Dimension Fortress Macross is kind of on the borderline, since the titular warship eventually becomes a mobile space fortress (in the sense of protecting a vulnerable group of civilians inside) which is capable of faster-than-light travel (hence "super-dimensional", transcending the dimensions). The "Super Dimensional" part may have referred to the huge size of the ship, which was stated to be a rather large Supervision Army warship. The Super Dimension tag was appended at the request of the sponsor to tie it in with two unrelated series that would run in the same timeslot after Macross had finished its run.
As for the "Macross?" That was a compromise between Studio Nue and a producer from the sponsior, who was a big fan of Shakespeare. Had he had his way, the show would have been Choujikyuu yosai Makubesu Another working title was Palace Robo Dockingham...
    • The second Super Dimension series, Super Dimensions Century Orguss also makes a bit of sense, as the plot revolves around a war between various alternate dimensions the main character piloting a mech called Orguss. The century part, less so, as the war only lasts for around 50 episodes.
    • The Japanese title was pretty straightforward Choujikyuu, which translates as "transcending space-time", as in physical concept, a rather fitting title to a SF show.
    • Plus, it allows the ship to be called the SDF-1, which is a play on the Japanese "Self-Defense Forces," the post-WWII Japanese military.
  • Super Heavy God Gravion is curiouser still, especially since the kanji for "superheavy" can also mean "overweight".
  • Sex Warrior Pudding. The original Japanese title is Family Restaurant Warrior Pudding, which is even more confusing, though less frightening. On the other hand, it becomes more understandable considering that "Pudding" here is a name.
  • Fate Stay Night. One translated version, demanding a title that made more sense, came out as The Night that Fate Stood Still. This does not, however, explain the sequel, which is titled Fate/hollow ataraxia. Ataraxia means something like "tranquility" in Greek, making the title "hollow tranquility", or possibly "empty dream" (which does describe the situation perfectly).
    • "Fate" is often used as the name of the setting itself (as opposed to other Nasuverse settings like Tsukihime and Kara No Kyokai), which makes some of the titles (sequel Fate/Hollow Ataraxia, light novel prequel Fate/Zero, and Fighting Game spinoff Fate/Unlimited Codes) make more sense. Naturally, under this theory, "Stay Night" still requires some linguistic hoop-jumping...
    • That's nothing compared to the Magical Girl spinoff Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya. "Fate" makes sense as the setting, and Illya as she's the main magical girl, and the end of the first series sort of clears up the "kaleid" part, but "Prisma" is a bit unexplained (maybe it's an abbrevation of "prismatic"?) and "liner" is just an extremely extremely obscure reference. Then again, it's not exactly a terribly serious series.
  • Trigun is a non-sequitur, but far less mind-wrenching than the subtitle/genre description: "Deep Space Planet Future Gun Action!" The fact that this was perfectly accurate a descriptor of Trigun as anyone could come up with only makes things sadder. Various possible meanings of the actual title are hotly debated among fans. Some took the title to refer to the fact that Vash has three guns: the one in a holster, the cyberarm that turns into a gun in emergencies, and the Angel Arm cannon.
  • The original title of the Battle Angel Alita manga is Hyper Future Vision Gunnm, where "Gunnm" (properly pronounced "Gan-mu") stands for "Gun Dream", which makes sense, as we are talking about a hyper-violent dystopic manga. It might also refer to Gally's battle-and-gore fetish.
    • Ironically, guns are actually outlawed in the Gunnm universe, or at least the region where the story starts. Quite common elsewhere.
  • FLCL is supposed to stand for "Fooly-Cooly", which is a meaningless phrase that "sounded English" in the creators' opinion. Many people falsely interpret it as a slang term (or onomatopoeia) for groping a woman's breasts (probably from how Naota's father was going on an insane rant about the name while his grandpa was making the hand motions of kneading bread). The in-series explanation is that it's short for "FLictonic CLipper-Weber Syndrome", which is apparently the name of the disease that causes things to teleport out of Naota's head (which Haruko just made up on the spot).
    • What happens right after the rant is what may be the problem. Naota's father asks Naota what Fooly Cooly means, and Naota responds by saying he's too young to know that.
  • Geobreeders ...no justification for the title has been found.
  • Futari wa Pretty Cure Splash Star.
  • Yes! Pretty Cure 5. Okay, "Precure" is established, and there are five of them, but "Yes"?
    • They say "Yes!" after winning a battle. So it's a reference to their Catch Phrase.
      • Got even worse with Yes! Precure 5 Go Go.
  • Blue Gender. "Blue" refers to the enemies, the Blue, but "Gender"?
    • Well, the Blue do look like Giant Floating Vaginas.
    • The original meaning of "gender" was more along the lines of "class" or "kind"(hence the concept of noun gender), which makes perfect sense once they reveal that the Blue are mutant humans.
  • The dubbed eleventh season of Pokémon is referred to as Pokémon: Battle Dimension. Has absolutely nothing to do with other dimensions.
  • D Gray Man None of the main character's names starts with D. There's nothing particularly gray. There are men, though. The Noahs go kind of gray.... Word of God is that it's from early drafts: "Gray" was Allen's name and the "D" stood for the Akuma, which were "dolls". The author liked the names and kept them for the title. Alternatively, it could be a(n unconscious) Shout-Out to The Picture of Dorian Gray due to the Akuma ability to retain their (borrowed) human forms after mutating and doing horrible things in the service of the The Millennium Earl and the Noahs - at least for a while, but by the time they can no longer retain their old forms they don't care.
    • Another theory is that the D. stands for dolls, which was a potential name for the manga, Gray refers to the fact that people are neither white (good) or black (evil), but gray, and Man refers to humans.
  • Bakuman。 has this with manga within a manga: the various fictional titles of manga run in Shonen Jump range from "Otters 11" to "Cheese Okaki". Of course, it doesn't help that you have no idea what those series are about.
    • While "Cheese Okaki" is never really explained, "Otters 11" has a simple explanation: it stars 11 anthropomorphic otters. Otters 11. Bam.
  • The original Japanese title of the Shoujo manga Mad Love Chase, Harlem Beat wa Yoake Made, translates as Harlem Beat Until Dawn. In the author's notes, Takashima cheerfully admits that she just liked the way it sounded.
  • Pani Poni Dash
  • Blame!! doesn't actually involve any finger pointing whatsoever. None. The lead characters rarely even talk. In fact, no one except the creator knows why the series has such an odd, misleading title.
    • "Blame!!" is an onomatopoeia for a gun firing. It makes sense if you cut the "e" off the end.
    • Hence the title Snikt! when Tsutomu Nihei wrote and drew a Wolverine miniseries for Marvel Comics. Naturally, it was a Spiritual Successor to Blame!!.

Comic Books

  • The weekly comic strip Tom the Dancing Bug fits the trope. The strip features neither anyone named Tom or any bugs that dance. Creator Ruben Bolling says that his strip needed a title to get published, so he wanted the stupidest possible title; he was then inspired by noticing a bug which appeared to be dancing on a ballpoint pen.
  • One of the titles in Marvel Comics' short-lived Razorline imprint was titled Hokum & Hex, which was a bit puzzling since there's no characters Code Named Hokum or Hex. Clive Barker, the creator of the Razorline comics, clarified in an interview with Wizard magazine that the title was meant to be descriptive; the comic was about magic (the "Hex" part), and was campy (the "Hokum" part).

Fan Works


  • The Japanese release of Army of Darkness was called "Captain Supermarket". This sort of makes sense, since Ash starts out as an ordinary guy who works at an S-Mart and becomes more superheroic as the story goes on.
  • The title of Salvador Dali's French impressionist film Un Chien Andalou translates as "A Dog from Andalusia" (Andalusia is a region in Spain). The film is said to have been inspired by the non-sequitur nature of dreams as nothing in the film relates to anything else or was intended to appeal to rational analysis. As it was meant to be dream-like in nature, the film has the quality of being a total mind-bendingly weird.
  • Geek Maggot Bingo: The Freak From Suckweasel Mountain. Just...what?
  • Reservoir Dogs. Quentin Tarantino has given conflicting explanations for the title. In one, his girlfriend suggested that he watch the French movie, "Au revoir, les enfants" (Goodbye, children), and he misheard "Reservoir Dogs." Another explanation he gave is that the phrase is a slang term for rats, which is how he saw the characters. Of course, for all we know, neither story is true.
  • Straw Dogs was originally called The Seige of Trencher's Farm, a bland and overly descriptive title, so director Peckinpah created in informal contest for a new name. A friend suggested Straw Dogs, referring to the Chinese tradition of creating animal figures out of straw as religious offerings. Straw dogs were given special treatment during religious ceremonies, then discarded with the rest of the trash, mirroring the impartiality of the universe. However, even the producer of the film admitted that the term means nothing in the context of the film.
    • In the 2011 remake, David explicitly compares the locals to straw dogs, saying that the men are treated reverently when they are football stars in high school but are "trash" afterwards. Such feelings make sense, considering how he treats them later. Or throughout the film, for that matter.
  • Sex Is Zero: A South Korean gross out/sex comedy roughly equivalent to "American Pie." It has been suggested that they were trying to get at something along the lines of "free love," but you really can't be sure.
  • The Room mostly takes place in an apartment, but no particular room is given any specific plot importance or thematic weight.
  • 99 and 44/100% Dead: a 1974 crime thriller. Apparently the title is a parody of a long-forgotten soap advert, which deepens the confusion.
  • The Living Daylights (which takes its title from a line James Bond says) was called Death Has the Scent of Roses in Japan, which makes no sense as there are no roses anywhere in the film and no one says anything even remotely approaching that line.
  • 8 1/2 was so named because it was Fellini's "eight and a halfth" film. The "half" film was a short.
  • The classic Frank Capra romantic comedy It Happened One Night takes place over several nights, and no one of them is more significant to the plot than any other. So what is the "It"?
  • A lot of the newer Bollywood movies borrow their titles from old songs. The title is generally loosely related to the actual movie (for instance a romantic movie might be titled based on a popular romantic song).
  • Band names that follow this trope (see Music, above and below) get spoofed in High Fidelity when the garage band that Barry joins late in the movie calls itself "Sonic Death Monkey". When they go to perform at Rob's release party for the former shoplifters' album, Barry mentions they are no longer called "Sonic Death Monkey", and are on the verge of being called "Kathleen Turner Overdrive". Then they avert it with their current band name:

Barry: But for tonight, we are "Barry Jive & the Uptown Five".

  • Johnny Sunshine Maximum Violence.
  • Automaton Transfusion. It's about teenagers battling zombies.
  • Nobody knows what the the title of the serial killer film 10 to Midnight is supposed to be referring to.


  • Stepwise Pagoda. "Well, we took a dictionary and opened it twice..."
  • Naked Lunch. As Nelson said walking out of the film adaptation, "I can think of at least two things wrong with that title."
  • Angelas Ashes contains a character named Angela, but it's not clear where the ashes come in.
  • The Chrysalids
  • The second volume of The Lord of the Rings is called "The Two Towers". Based on events in Book 3, it seems certain that one of the towers is Orthanc. It's less clear what the other one is. Of the four other towers mentioned in the novel, the two most likely candidates are Minas Morgul and Barad Dûr.

"I am not at all happy about the title 'the Two Towers'. It must if there is any real reference in it to Vol II refer to Orthanc and the Tower of Cirith Ungol. But since there is so much made of the basic opposition of the Dark Tower and Minas Tirith, that seems very misleading." (The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien No 143, dated 1954)

    • It doesn't help that in the movie, Frodo and Sam don't take the pass of Cirith Ungol at all (it's moved to the next movie), so a character explicitly refers to "the union of the two towers" of Sauron and Saruman instead (Orthanc and Barad-dûr).
  • The Name of the Rose, Which rose?
    • The Name Of The Rose was chosen to be deliberately disconnected from the book; to impart no information whatsoever about the book. Eco said "the rose is a symbolic figure so rich in meanings that by now it hardly has any meaning left."
  • The Postman Always Rings Twice contains no postmen and no doorbells. It is an overly complicated metaphor for fate.

Live Action TV

  • Monty Python's Flying Circus was selected from a long list of names produced in a brainstorming session involving the whole group. It has no meaning intended or implied. The name ideas that the individual members had come up with on their own (causing a somewhat acrimonious debate, and leading on to the brainstorming session) included such titles as Owl-Stretching Time (Graham Chapman's suggestion) and A Horse, a Bucket and a Spoon (Terry Jones's suggestion). Owl-Stretching Time and several others on that list were recycled as episode titles in the first series.
    • The title Monty Python's Flying Circus did come about from the various brainstorming, but there was a logical progression, as related by the Python's themselves in various documentaries. The "Flying Circus" part was the result of the BBC having to call the forthcoming series something for their internal schedule paperwork, and came up with "Barry Took's Flying Circus" (Barry Took was the Comedy adviser who brought the group to the BBC). The group liked the "Flying Circus" part and thought the title should represent a shady con-man-type's attempt at a cheap variety show and cast about for a sleazy-sounding name. John Cleese eventually came up with the last name "Python" and Eric Idle suggested "Monty" (after a patron from a pub he frequented), which also sounded like the typical first name of a small-time theatrical agent.


  • Brian Eno does this a lot, with both titles and lyrics. One of his best examples: "The Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch."
    • Bizarrely, that one isn't actually a Word Salad Title (the lyrics on the other hand...), as "the Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch" was an actual black man from Paw Paw, Michigan by the name of A. W. Underwood who was supposedly pyrokinetic.
  • Much of CAKE's discography: Motorcade of Generosity, Fashion Nugget, Comfort Eagle, Pressure Chief.
    • Though Prolonging the Magic is full of breakup and torch songs.
  • Blind Guardian avoids this in their songs and albums, but makes up for that with "Drei Schuesse im Leberknoedel" ("Three Shots in a Liver Dumpling"). It's an epic video about a group of minstrels who, in a desperate attempt to get an evil king to listen to their music, compete against him and his minions in a bean-eating contest, a death-metal-listening contest, a drinking contest, and a sword-fight.
  • Dream Theater (who could count for this trope themselves) often name albums by taking a random phrase from a song in the album that they think sounds good. The exception to this is Awake (the word never comes up in any song on the album) and Systematic Chaos, which is a variation of the line "Insane random thoughts of neat disorder" from Constant Motion.
    • The word 'Awake' appears in two songs on the album - Innocence Faded and The Silent Man ("The faithful live awake/The rest remain misled..." and "When there is reason/Tonight I'm awake...") A more accurate example would be their next album, Falling into Infinity, which appears to have nothing to do with the context of any of the songs.
      • Perhaps "Falling into Infinity" could symbolize the fact that their careers and personal lives were pretty much in freefall due to Kevin Moore suddenly leaving the band right before the release of their previous album, Mike Portnoy being a raging alcoholic, James LaBrie almost throwing up his own larynx during a bad case of food poisoning, permanently damaging his voice in the process, and the whole band being royally Screwed By the Record Label. The name "Dream Theater" itself came from a closed-down theater in California.
    • One part of the title track of Octavarium is Mike Portnoy jamming tribute after tribute to his progressive rock influences together. e.g. "Lucy in the sky with Diamond Dave's not here I come to save the day for Nightmare Cinema show me the way to get back home again..."
  • Symphonic metal band Nightwish is fond of song titles that read like a bunch of random gothy words were drawn from a hat: "Ghost Love Score," "Bare Grace Misery," "Deep Silent Complete," etc.
    • Compared to English or any other Indio-European language, the band's native Finnish might as well be a Starfish Language.
  • The David Bowie song "Fall Dog Bombs the Moon" is a perfect example of both Word Salad Title and Word Salad Lyrics.
  • Chumbawamba has issued conflicting stories as to the origin of their name. One story is that one of the band members had a dream in which he had to use a public restroom and the restrooms were marked "Chumba" and "Wamba" and he didn't know which one to enter. A slightly less interesting one is that one of the band members sat down at a typewriter (no, not a computer, a typewriter) and closed his eyes and just started typing randomly, and they picked out that relatively pronounceable 11-letter string from among the gibberish. Officially, though, it doesn't mean anything, and they're rather happy it does: many other bands in their genre (anarcho-punk) formed at the time they did (the early 80s) have names that link them to that time and genre (Their official FAQ mentions how lucky the members of Thatcher On Acid were that she was in office for eleven years instead of eighteen months). "Chumbawamba", being nonsense, makes their name at once timeless (making it easier to put out new material that attracts new listeners) and genreless (allowing them to change direction without looking incredibly bizarre—can you imagine if a band called "The Disease" or something like that came out with "Tubthumping"?).
    • Hoobastank has also given conflicting stories for their name's origin, including a gas station in Germany and an old Chinese guy yelling gibberish insults at them. Wikipedia states that the name is meaningless and the band members just thought it sounded cool.
  • While a lot of band names seem rather arbitrary, bands in the Elephant 6 collective seem to take this to extremes. Neutral Milk Hotel and The Olivia Tremor Control spring to mind; it's been hypothesised that they were formed from reading out the results of a game of Scrabble.
  • Wishbone Ash
  • German band called "We Butter the Bread With Butter"
  • The Fucking Champs! Their song titles include such wonders as: These Glyphs Are Dusty, I Am The Album Cover, Atop The Pyramid that is You, I Love The Spirit World And I Love Your Father, Crummy Lovers Die in the Grave, and can't forget Thor Is, Like, Immortal.
  • At least half (if not more) song titles of Guided By Voices, along with various side projects of their frontman Robert Pollard. Examples: "The Goldheart Mountaintop Queen Directory", "Showbiz Opera Walrus", "Some Drilling Implied", "Burning Flag Birthday Suit", "Squirmish Frontal Room", "Man Called Aerodynamics", "14 Cheerleader Coldfront", "Glow Boy Butlers", "Soul Train College Policeman" (this could go on all day)
  • The bulk of Florida IDM musician Otto Von Schirach's songs and albums have word salad titles:
    • Album examples:
      • Chopped Zombie Fungus
      • Global Speaker Fisting
      • Maxipad Detention
    • Song Examples:
      • Invincible Meat Boy
      • Fractal Nut Vinigrette
      • Swollen Whale Abdomen
  • Pick a modern Doom Metal band, any modern Doom Metal band. These tend to be high masters of meaningless but superficially deep titles. Some examples:
    • It Took the Night to Believe, by Sunn O))); instrumental.
    • Crooked Axis For String Quartet, by Earth; instrumental, with nothing resembling a string quartet involved.
  • "Deep Blue Something" was the exact response one of the founding members gave when put on the spot to come up with a band name.
  • Many Japanese musicians and artists, when they write an album title in English, can come up with some very weird things, such as Japanese Harsh Noise musician Variations of Sex's "My Cock is Beyond Good And Evil."
  • BT's "Deeper Sunshine", "Flaming June", "Mercury & Solace", "The Meeting of a Hundred Yang", "The Rose of Jericho", etc.
  • White Zombie produced a song called "El Phantasmo and the Chicken Run Blast-O-Rama". No, we have no idea either.
  • Example by Jimi Hendrix: "Spanish Castle Magic".
    • It comes from a club called "Spanish Castle" where Hendrix used to play before he got famous.
  • By Pink Floyd: The album Atom Heart Mother. According to Word of God, it got its name from Ron Geesin pointing to an Evening Standard headline reading "ATOM HEART MOTHER NAMED" (it was about a woman fitted with a nuclear pacemaker or something like that), but otherwise it means nothing.
  • The Fall Of Troy loves these. F.C.P.S.I.T.S.G.E.P.G.E.P.G.E.P. still has no official meaning. (And the fan meaning was shot to pieces with the remake, F.C.P.R.E.M.I.X.) then there's The Hol[ ]y Tape, Cut Down All the Trees and Name the Streets After Them, Straight-Jacket Keelhauled, Semi-Fiction, etc. The titles on Phantom On The Horizon are justified in that the POV character is apparently going insane.
    • "The Hol[ ]y tape" is a reference to House of Leaves, as is "You got a death wish, Johnny Truant?"
  • Some early 16 Horsepower songs titles, like "The Denver Grab" and "Ditch Digger", really have nothing to do with the lyrics.
  • Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.
    • Though this could just be NATO speak for YHF. ...Whatever that is. Ypsilanti Heritage Foundation?
    • Presumably a broadcast from a numbers station. Jeff Tweedy has expressed enthusiasm for the Conet Project, a collection of numbers stations recordings, and sampled a piece of the collection on YHF.
  • The Devil Wears Prada tends to name their songs with this combined somewhat with Rule of Cool or Rule of Funny.
  • The production music company Pfeifer Broz. Music is really, really notorious for this trope. Their song names are literally words slapped together. How else can names like Absolute Anthropoid, Hubris Mine, Crown Detonator and Alpha Bag be explained?
  • Shudder To Think's debut album Curses, Spells, Voodoo, Mooses. Vocalist Craig Wedren is somewhat embarrassed about the title, and offers no explanation beyond "I was 17 and it seemed funny at the time".
  • Who the hell calls their band Lesbian Bed Death? Moreover, who chooses that name when the original lineup is all male?
  • Also worthy of mention is the death metal band The Tony Danza Tap Dance Extravaganza.
  • Captain Beefheart: Trout Mask Replica, Ice Cream for Crow, Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller)[2] - and that's just album titles.
  • Most of Versailles's song and album titles make relative sense. "DRY ICE SCREAM!! [Remove Silence]" is just incomprehensible gibberish.
  • Toad the Wet Sprocket took their name from a Monty Python sketch in which a newscaster mentions a band called Toad the Wet Sprocket. Eric Idle said that he deliberately tried to think of a name no one could ever possibly use. When he happened to hear Toad the Wet Sprocket's single announced on the radio, he said he nearly drove off the road.

Newspaper Comics

Professional Wrestling

  • TNA renamed 'The James Gang' the 'Voodoo Kin Mafia' so they could do an angle attacking WWE owner Vince Kennedy McMahon (VKM). The fact that the group had nothing to do with voodoo or the mafia and only marginally involved kinship didn't seem to matter. Later, "Voodoo Queen" Roxxi LaVeau was introduced as their valet in a vain attempt to justify the name; this didn't help as much as they thought it did.
  • Come to think of it, quite a few wrestling moves come off as this if you're unfamiliar with them. What's a "Northern Lights Suplex," for instance? Or a "Death Valley Driver"?


  • The comedy troupe Firesign Theatre tends to give their albums weird titles. Some of them (like Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me The Pliers) fit this trope perfectly.
  • There was an English sketch comedy show entitled The Long Hot Satsuma. It lampshaded this trope by explaining, at the start of some episodes, that it was actually a cool, short, non-citrus-fruit of a program.


  • La Cantatrice Chauve (The Bald Soprano) lampshades this trope. The title bears no relationship to the content of the play, and the one time somebody quotes the title, it almost sounds as though he's inquiring about the name of the play he's in.
  • In the play Say Goodnight, Gracie by Ralph Pape (not the One Man Show with the same name about George Burns) Gracie Allen's name only comes up once, and nobody says goodnight.
  • Twelfth Night
    • It was written to be performed as part of a Twelfth Night celebration that was part of the Christmas holiday at the time.
    • Note that the full title is Twelfth Night, or What You Will. In other words, call it whatever you like.

Video Games

  • Super Robot Wars: Original Generation is justifiable, but when the anime based on the game is called Super Robot Wars: Original Generation Divine Wars? That's gets to the point where the point of a long title becomes moot, as using the whole name will get you all of nothing, and putting in only parts of the title gets you googleplexed. (Don't even think of trying to search for SRWOGDW.) This is made worse by the fact that there is very little agreement between fans on where the spaces/colon(s) should go, not to mention the whole Super Robot Wars/Super Robot Taisen issue. Variations SRWOGDW, SRW:OGDW, SRW:OG:DW, SRWOG:DW, and SRW:OG DW, and a plethora of others, are seen.
  • Melty Blood. Naturally, in a game with vampires, blood is definitely involved, but there aren't really any references to anything melting.
    • Melty Blood: Act Cadenza. A cadenza is the solo section of a concerto; what this has to do with the game is anyone's guess.
  • Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix.
    • Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo even more so, as there is no Puzzle Fighter I.
  • No More Heroes features a Show Within A Game Magical Girl anime titled Pure White Lovers Bizarre Jelly. Parts of it might make sense, given that it's explicitly a moe series and the girls are named after berries, but the rest is word salad. Ironically, the similarly named Pure White Giant Glastonbury makes almost perfect sense, being about a white Humongous Mecha named Glastonbury.
    • The title for Speed Buster's theme, Mach 13 Elephant Explosion, also qualifies.
  • Alpha Black Zero: Intrepid Protocol fits this trope like a glove.
  • Hoyle Casino Games 2009 is Exactly What It Says on the Tin, until you get to the slot machine called Alien Disco Safari. There are aliens and disco, but no safari in sight.
  • The World Ends With You fits this trope perfectly, at least until the title is explained near the end of the game. The Japanese title, It's a Wonderful World, was also explained at the same point in the corresponding version.
  • The original name of Eternal Sonata is Trusty Bell: Chopin's Dream. The "Chopin's Dream" part makes plenty of sense, but what's a "trusty bell" and what does it have to do with anything?
    • The PS3 port added the word "Reprise," which fit the context but just made the name more salad-y.
  • Tales of Symphonia has nothing to do with music or anything called Symphonia.
    • The word symphony, depending on context, can imply harmony. And given that a major part of your quest is resolved with the harmonious merger of two worlds it makes some sense. It's been confirmed that the reunified world is called Symphonia before its name is changed to Aseria.
    • The same applies to Tales of Phantasia, there isn't anything called like that in the whole game. Later titles in the series avert this trope by using concepts important to the plot (Destiny, Rebirth, Innocence).
  • Beyond Oasis was released in Europe under the name The Story Of Thor. While it's a good game, this troper was disappointed to find no references to Thor in it at all.
  • Tetris Friends forces players to do this to name their Arena rooms. Room names are of the format <adjective> <adjective or noun adjunct> <noun>, with a separate list of words to choose from for each, as well as a button to randomize all three. (On the off chance more than room has the same set of 3 words, a number is appended to the end, without a space.) This tends to result in very silly names, such as "Drab Tomato Uprising" and "Cryptic Purple Hunters2". Very rarely does a room name actually make any logical sense.
  • Age of Mythology has specific titles for the music found in the game which the designers obviously never intended for public perusal. The examples range from merely punny (Of Norse Not!) to the truly bizarre (Eat Your Potatoes).
  • Retieval Mankind's Batman is the name of one of the POP Station handhelds. Good luck making any sense of this one.
  • Hotdog Storm, a 1996 arcade Shoot'Em Up whose title continues to confound gamers a decade and a half later. The only thing within the game even approaching an explanation of the title is the image of the squadron's badge on the title screen, which features a prominent illustration of a hot dog.
  • Though the does have a lot of hate in it, Analogue a Hate Story was titled as such only to parallel Christine Love's previous visual novel, Digital: A Love Story.
  • Mega Man Romhacks tend to have unique titles, such as Rock Man 4 Minus Infinity or Rockman 6: Unique Harassment, probably due to the rom hack creators' unfamiliarity with the English language and picking cool-sounding words.

Web Animation

  • Homestar Runner,
    • Homestar Runner means nothing to someone who isn't familiar with the cartoons, but it's the name of the supposed main character. It originated when the brothers' friend imitated an old-timey baseball announcer and referred to a player as "the home star runner." The brothers found the garbled phrase hysterical.
    • The trope is parodied when Strong Bad names his "crazy cartoon" Sweet Cuppin' Cakes, because "Crazy cartoons usually have titles that have nothing to do with the cartoon itself." The one full episode of said crazy cartoon seen (a Christmas Episode) is titled "Cactus Coffee and the No-Tell Motel".

Web Comics

  • Sluggy Freelance is not about slugs or freelance writers (Although the main character sometimes works as a freelance web designer).
    • And Riff was revealed in the Dangerous Days Ahead arc to be a freelancer for HeretiCorp. He resigned.
    • It's lampshaded just a couple of times that no-one including the characters knows what the title means, especially the word "Sluggy".
    • The word "Sluggy" is slang used by the Irish Navy to refer to its reservists. It's doubtful that they knew this though.
  • The Perry Bible Fellowship has nothing to do with Christianity. (On the site's FAQ page, the author states that the title was chosen to be ironic.)
  • El Goonish Shive even gives it a Lampshade Hanging or two. He does explain the rationale here.
  • Dresden Codak. Being primarily a Widget Series, this actually makes a bit of sense, such as it is.
    • Less so, given the comic's recent Cerebus Syndrome. One possible meaning is that it refers to the Allied firebombing of Dresden in WWII, widely considered one of the greatest What the Hell, Hero? moments in history, likening it to the morally questionable actions of the main character in her attempts to bring about The Singularity.
    • Another theory is that it's named for the Dresden Codex. The frequent Mesoamerican motifs make this rather plausible. Though the codex itself has yet to appear.
    • A minor character wore a nametag reading "T.UD", which some fans consider a reference to the codex's location in Dresden.
    • Dresden Codak is actually the nickname of the comic's author, Aaron Diaz. The title is best thought of as "Comics By Dresden Codak." Sure, the problem is now explaining a Word Salad Name, but (unfortunately, I couldn't find a source) Diaz said that it's just the name of the Dresden Codex plus Rule Of Cool.
  • Octopus Pie is a story about two women in Brooklyn and their relationships therein, but it has no octopoda.
  • The supporting cast of Goats does intermittently include a goat; Jon Rosenberg explains: We had already named the strip Goats, so I felt the need to justify the name. Toothgnip was introduced [in the third strip]. (Thor's chariot is drawn by goats named Toothgnasher and Toothgrinder; Toothgnip is the spare.)
  • Antihero for Hire has a villain whose name is like this, in the form of called Baron Diamond who's actually named Baron Orange Earthsmantle Von Potatoflight. This is mostly so that Shadehawk can mock it.
  • Lightning Made of Owls, natch. The title's not about anything.
  • Lackadaisy refers partly to the protagonist's attitude and partly to the name of the speakeasy where he works.
  • Mountain Time has nothing to do with Mountains or the Mountain time zone (though a handful of mountains do appear as scenery (and sometimes bit characters)). More notably, almost every comic on the site has a completely inane title, such as "Witchcraft for Skiers", "Cheesecake Bang Bang Chicken Avocado Woo Key Lime Pie", "Puddle Inaccuracies" and "Not a Gila Monster"—though, to be fair, it isn't a Gila Monster.
  • Penny Arcade. Throughout the whole series, there are very, very few references to pennies or an arcade. Gabe and Tycho are fans mostly of console games (and the occasional MMORPG).
  • All Over the House - what is? The name is completely random.

Web Original

Western Animation

  • Aeon Flux Yeah, it's the main character's name, but we have two very real words with real meanings just shoved into the title, and the fact that it's her name just seems like a half assed explanation.
    • Flux: –noun: continuous change, passage, or movement. Seems apt to describe the series or the lead character in that way, since there is next to no continuity in the series.
  • An in-universe example from Regular Show : "Planet Chasers: Starlight Excellent" (or Planet Starlight Chasers: Excellent) is an anime series that- quite literally- renders the viewer mindless.
  • Frisky Dingo. The title is entirely meaningless, although the writers eventually handwaved an explanation into the series. Note, originally the writers wanted to call the series "Whiskey Tango" but ran into legal problems as there was a band by that name. In frustration they "jokingly" said they may as well call it "Frisky Dingo." The phrase does end up coming into play in the last episode of season 1. It's the password to control the Anihilatrix. It's also lampshaded later, when someone mentions this, another person asks what it means.
    • Just for the record, "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot" is a military aviation term. It means "Could you repeat that? I don't believe what I think I heard you just say." or more literally "What the F** k, Over?"
      • "Whiskey Tango", minus the foxtrot, also means "white trash" in military slang.
  • Aqua Teen Hunger Force. To quote from the Wikipedia entry: "The title of the show is largely a misnomer: the characters have no major affiliation with water aside from frequent occurrences involving their neighbor's pool. They are not teenagers per se, and have somewhat frequently issued conflicting statements regarding their ages. They are food (hence the reference to hunger), but rarely, if ever actually do anything about hunger, and are rarely shown acting as any kind of a force." The Movie sorta gives an origin to the phrase, but this is long after the show began; and like everything else, the canon erodes quickly into madness.
    • The title made more sense for the early version of the characters that appear in the Space Ghost: Coast To Coast episode "Baffler Meal", where they were mascots for a fast-food chain called Burger Trench who sought to make teens hungry for Burger Trench. The "Aqua" part still didn't make any sense though.
      • Likely the "Trench" part, since the trenches are the deepest part of the ocean. Also, in the early episodes of ATHF, they are a detective team which refer to themselves as "The Aqua Teen Hunger Force".
      • The detective team story was a throw-away premise to get the show produced, since "a group of anthropomorphic food items fight crime" sounds like more of a show than "a group of anthropomorphic food items do a bunch of random things for 15 minutes." The title might have simply been part of that.
      • The Live Action episode, "Last Last One Forever and Ever" (which reveals that the show is essentially a script written by a struggling writer...or maybe not, this is an Adult Swim show we're discussing here.), has the gang moving out of their house. As they pull away, Carl sends them off by uttering "Truly, they were an Aqua Teen Hunger Force." Of course, even with the title now spoken in the show itself, there's still no clear meaning behind it.
  • Robot Chicken. The title is only referenced in the opening sequence; the show appears to be the hallucinations of a chicken going insane from being forced to watch too much TV, with all the shows starting to blur together. The chicken's presence is hardly the point; indeed, the actual content of the show is generally restricted to non-stop silliness with action figures and masturbation jokes. The name Robot Chicken was chosen mainly due to the barmy image it projects; similarly to Monty Python (above) most of the other episodes are given similarly random titles that were originally considered for the show as a whole, then rejected ("1987", "Federated Resources", "A Kick In The Nuts", etc.). It's been explained that the name of the show came from when Seth Green and Matt Senreich saw the name on a Chinese restaurant menu.
  • Elephants Dream is about neither elephants nor dreams. The working title for the short film was Machina, which suits it much better.
  • Family Guy started out with deliberately irrelevant thriller-ish episode titles before abandoning them because no-one in the crew could keep them straight.
  • Early Merrie Melodies were named after a song used in the cartoon. For example, Porky Pig's first short was called "I Haven't Got a Hat," after the song of the same name - but the plot was a bunch of kids putting on a pageant at school.
  • King of the Hill has absolutely nothing to do with the children's game it was named after. It's just a reference to the main character's last name, and he's not even a "king" in any sense.
    • It is, however, appropriate in the idiomatic sense of the term. At least compared to his dysfunctional neighbors, Hank is the big fish in a small pond.

Real Life

  • The name of the website Slashdot was chosen to make its address as confusing as possible when spoken: h-t-t-p-colon-slash-slash-slash-dot-dot-org. Not that anyone speaks the "http://" part aloud any more.
  • In Austria, someone managed to register the domain dotat.at. It became really weird, when the user account "dot" got email (try enunciating dot@dotat.at).
  • The name of the 1910s-1920s cultural movement Dada was allegedly chosen randomly from a dictionary. "Dada" means "hobby horse" in French, "Yes, yes" in Romanian and Russian, "Daddy" in some dialects of English and some other languages, and "nanny" in Hungarian, but also sounds like gibberish, which fits when you consider what Dada was.
    • Well, one of the founders of Dadaism, Tristan Tzara, was Romanian...
    • Dada artist Marcel Duchamp created a sculpture titled "The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even". Though the piece does depict what appears to be a bride and her bachelors, any resemblance to the title ends there.
  • This trope is partly responsible for the phenomenon known as Recursive Acronym.
  • Amazon.com now lets you create a Pay Phrase, which is just a few random words of your choosing that, when entered on a product page, automatically purchase that product with preset billing and shipping information. Suggested samples include "YourName 's Fancy Eagles" or "YourName 's Hidden Amusement."
    • Some of them can be a bit creepy: "YourName 's Many Owners"?
      • Others come off deliciously sarcastic- "YourName 's Fabled Diplomacy".
    • Speaking of Amazon, they (as well as many other sites that base their pages on Amazon's) have a duplicate listing for the DVD My Little Pony: Twinkle Wish Adventure calling it Persistent Monkey Grip Sculpture of Yesteryear.
  • There is an Open Source file extractor (and quite a good one, at that) Called "Free RAR Extract Frog". Yes, you read that right, Free RAR Extract Frog. There is a picture of a frog one the interface, but beyond that, no frogs.
  • During the plague of spammers which afflicted All The Tropes starting in Fall 2014, the few who managed to get far enough to create a page generally embraced this trope with wide, open arms as a side effect of using semirandom text in an attempt to build keyword farms. For example, "Books To Aid Figure Out What Speakers May And Measurement Radio Match Your Automobile", created (and deleted minutes later) in January 2014.


  1. That unrelated book's title referred to someone who would smuggle — "run" — medical supplies such as scalpel blades for charity medical work, which the government had outlawed as a Population Control measure.
  2. The parenthesis in this one does actually have an explanation: Bat Chain Puller was (and still is) the title of an album he recorded, but then this recording was trapped in legal issues (and remains so to this day). So he decided to record a new album of the same songs, and call the rerecording Shiny Beast, with (Bat Chain Puller) as a reference to the album it was based on. And there is still the possibility that Bat Chain Puller may be released from legal limbo and published some day...