A List of 1,065 Medieval Dog Names: Nosewise, Garlik, Havegoodday & More

The Rovers, Fidos, and Spots of the world have been regard­ed since time immemo­r­i­al as man’s best friends. But they haven’t always been named Rover, Fido, and Spot: ear­ly fif­teenth-cen­tu­ry Eng­lish dog own­ers pre­ferred to give their pets names like Nose­wise, Gar­lik, Pre­t­y­man, and Gay­larde. Or at least the author of a fif­teenth-cen­tu­ry Eng­lish man­u­script thought those names suit­able for dogs at the time, accord­ing to a thread post­ed just a few days ago by Twit­ter user WeirdMe­dieval. Oth­er canine monikers offi­cial­ly endorsed by the author (whose pre­cise iden­ti­ty remains unclear) include Filthe, Salmon, Have­g­ood­day, Horny­ball, and Argu­ment, none of which you’re like­ly to meet in the dog park today.

The com­plete list of 1,065 dog names is includ­ed in David Scott-Mac­n­ab’s aca­d­e­m­ic paper The Names of All Man­ner of Hounds: A Unique Inven­to­ry in a Fif­teenth-Cen­tu­ry Man­u­script” (or here on Imgur).

Meant to cov­er hunt­ing dogs includ­ing “run­ning hounds, ter­ri­ers and grey­hounds,” the com­pi­la­tion includes “numer­ous rec­og­niz­able prop­er names, includ­ing sev­er­al from his­to­ry, mythol­o­gy and Arthuri­an romance” like Absolon, Charlemayne, Nero, and Romu­lus. Some “have the qual­i­ty of bynames or sobri­quets. Some are descrip­tive, some are sim­ple nouns, and oth­ers are com­pounds of dif­fer­ent lex­i­cal ele­ments.”

Dog names in the Mid­dle Ages also came from the nat­ur­al world (Dol­fyn, Flowre, Fawkon), human pro­fes­sions (Hosewife, Tynker), and even the nation­al­i­ties of Europe (Duche­man, Ger­man). You can learn more about the vari­ety of pet names back then from this post at Medievalists.org. King Hen­ry VIII “had a dog named Purkoy, who got its name from the French ‘pourquoi’ because it was very inquis­i­tive.” In Switzer­land of 1504, the most pop­u­lar dog name was Furst (“Prince”). And as for cats, in medieval Eng­land they tend­ed to be “known as Gyb — the short form of Gilbert,” while in France “they were called Tibers or Tib­ert,” named for a char­ac­ter in the Rey­nard the Fox fables. All of these sound­ed nor­mal five or six cen­turies ago, but who among us is dar­ing enough to rein­tro­duce the likes of Syn­full, Cram­pette, and Snacke into the trend-sen­si­tive word of pet own­er­ship in the 2020s?

Relat­ed con­tent:

An Ani­mat­ed His­to­ry of Dogs, Inspired by Kei­th Har­ing

Here’s What Ancient Dogs Looked Like: A Foren­sic Recon­struc­tion of a Dog That Lived 4,500 Years Ago

Cats in Medieval Man­u­scripts & Paint­ings

Killer Rab­bits in Medieval Man­u­scripts: Why So Many Draw­ings in the Mar­gins Depict Bun­nies Going Bad

Google App Uses Machine Learn­ing to Dis­cov­er Your Pet’s Look Alike in 10,000 Clas­sic Works of Art

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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