Game Information | Final Fantasy VII Name Origins
The names of many of the people, places, and things in FFVII were inspired by numerous sources. Some of these names appear in other games in the Final Fantasy series, while many are specific to FFVII alone. What follows below is a list of the origins of these names, and (whereever possible) some commentary on their meanings.
Please note that there is a separate page on the summon monsters' name origins, which you may find here. For the meaning behind Sephiroth's Masamune, as well as other Japanese-named swords in FFVII, see this page.
Last updated July 2008. Special thanks goes out to the following people for their contributions: Julyworks, K. Campbell, Kyle, D. Benton, ChibiTaryn, Ban chan, Pxlism, The Wanderer, Tim, M. Orvik, Anguipes Seraph, Yuronova, Ryo, Nox13last, Corey, Vori and Bandage.
- Other Characters
Aeris (Aerith, Earith)
It's not known for certain exactly where Aeris' name originated from, but there are certainly quite a few possibilities:
The Norse had their own word for god, "Aesir". Switch the last three letters around and you have Aeris.
Oddly enough, the "Aerith" and "Earith" spellings are anagrams as well: both can be rearranged to spell "I Earth".
Additionally, the ancient Greeks had a goddess named "Eris", who served as the personification of strife and discord. Considering Cloud's last name, this can't be mere coincidence.
"Aeris" is also a Latin word meaning air, atmosphere, ether, or weather.
Finally, there is the possibility that the name is based off the English word "heiress", which is pronounced as "Aeris" and means someone who inherits something of great importance.
The word "Sephiroth" can be traced to a religious origin - that of Jewish Kabbalah.
There is a diagram that features heavily in Kabbalistic reference, referred to as the Tree of Life. It is a diagram showing several spherical shapes, linked together with lines. Each sphere has it's own attributes and meaning, and each is referred to as a "sephirot" (or "sefirot").
The Tree of Life, or Systema Sephirotica
The plural of the word "sephirot" is that of our villain. Yep, that's right-- the plural is indeed "Sephiroth".
So, now we know where the word comes from... but why that name? What is so significant about this Tree of Life that our villain is named after it? How does this fit into the grand story of Final Fantasy VII?
The answer to that is simple:
It is said that this Tree of Life depicts the "ten divine paths", or the ten creative forces that are between the infinite God, and our created world. It is, by definition, humanity's process of returning to divinity, along the path shown.
Considering that Sephiroth's ambition during the game is to become divine, to rule over the Final Fantasy VII world as a God, this is a very appropriate name for our villain.
--ChibiTaryn, April 2003
Sources of Information and Inspiration:
Quabbalah: Tree of Life, Neon Genesis Evangelion (anime: GAINAX, 1997), The End of Evangelion (anime: GAINAX and Production I.G., 1998), and Final Fantasy VII (Squaresoft, 1997).
Azul - The name of this blue-haired warrior (who appears in Before Crisis and Dirge of Cerberus) comes from the Spanish word for (what else) "blue".
Biggs and Wedge - The names of two Rebel pilots in the Star Wars universe. Biggs Darklighter was Luke Skywalker's friend since childhood, who was killed in the battle against the Death Star in the first movie; Wedge Antilles is an X-Wing pilot who appears in many of the original trilogy's most prominent battles. Biggs and Wedge have also appeared in a number of other Final Fantasy games—most notably FFVI (where "Biggs" was mistranslated as "Vicks") and FFVIII. However, in both those games, Biggs and Wedge were in the employ of the villains; as they are a part of the rebel faction AVALANCHE in FFVII, their names are all the more fitting here.
Bugenhagen - Likely named after the German priest Johannes Bugenhagen (1485-1558), a Protestant reformer and friend of Martin Luther.
Cait Sith - Irish/Celtic for "Peace Cat" or "Fairy Cat". Cait Siths originate from British and Irish folklore as large cats which were completely black, save for a white spot on their bellies. They are now believed to have been inspired by a real species, the kellas cat.
Cid Highwind - It's well known that a character named Cid appears in just about every Final Fantasy game. What's especially interesting about FFVII's Cid is that his surname has also appeared in previous Final Fantasies. Perhaps the most notable of these earlier Highwinds is Final Fantasy IV's Kain Highwind, a Dragon Knight who (like Cid) uses spears as his primary weapons and can utilize special "Jump" attacks.
Heidegger - Probably named after the German philosopher, Martin Heidegger (1889-1976). This philosopher was known for his writings on phenomenology, nihilism, and other topics.
Jenova - Possibly derived from Jehovah, the Hebrew name for God. The name Jenova can also be seen as a fusing of the words Jehova and nova (which means "new" in Latin), thus meaning "New God".
Kadaj - This Advent Children character's name most likely originates from the Persian word "Khadaj", which means "imperfect" or "incomplete". An alternate theory is that Kadaj is a reworking of the word "Kaddish", which, according to Judaism 101, is "the prayer recited by a mourner for eleven months, after the loss of a loved one."
Reeve - From the Middle English term that became "Sheriff" in Modern English, Reeves were manor stewards and/or bailiffs during medieval times. The term is still used today in some parts of Canada as a title given to town council presidents.
Tseng - A Chinese surname. The most famous person bearing this name was Tseng Kuo-fan (1811-1872), an influential general and politician of the Ch'ing Dynasty.
Yazoo - This Advent Children character's name possibly refers to a yazoo stream, a tributary stream that runs parallel to, and eventually connects with, a main river. They often share the same bed of subterranean water, and have the same source and mouth, though if you're walking along a yazoo stream you may not even be able to see the main river it belongs to.
Costa del Sol - Literally meaning "Coast of the Sun" in Spanish, Costa del Sol is a region in the southern part of Spain. Much like the FFVII town, Spain's Costa del Sol is a world-famous tourist destination.
Knolespole - Believed to be a mistranslation of "North Pole".
Midgar - From the Norse "Midgard", which means "Middle Garden". According to Norse myths, Midgard was the first thing the gods created.
Nibelheim - In Norse mythology, a place called Niflheim is the origin point of the gods. Nibelheim can also be loosely translated as "Cloud's Home" in German (nibel = mist [or cloud], heim = home).
Seventh Heaven - Saying that you're "in seventh heaven" is a popular phrase in English that means that you're extremely happy and/or content. An interesting look at the origins of this phrase can be found here.
Cerberus - Vincent's three-barreled shotgun in Advent Children and Dirge of Cerberus is named after a figure from Greek mythology. Cerberus is a three-headed dog who guarded the gates to the Underworld. It may also be noted that Cerberus appears as a summon in certain other Final Fantasy games.
Cetra - This proper name for the "Ancients" most likely comes from the Latin word "caetra" (or "cetra"), which means "a short Spanish shield".
Fenrir - Cloud's motorcycle in Advent Children shares its name with that of a monstrous wolf. It is said that on the day of Ragnarok (see below), Fenrir will break loose and kill Odin. Note that in addition to the bike being named after this beast, Cloud also wears a wolf's head emblem on his shoulder guard, and Cloud, Barret, and Tifa all wear rings with this same emblem. Also, like Cerberus, Fenrir appears as a summon in some other Final Fantasy games.
Hardy Daytona - The model name of Cloud's original motorcycle is an obvious parody of (or homage to?) the Harley-Davidson brand name.
Loveless - The title of the seminal 1991 album by British shoegazing band My Bloody Valentine. MBV's name can even be seen on the posters for the Loveless play that are displayed throughout Midgar:
PHS - In the AC artbook Reunion Files, Tetsuya Nomura revealed that "PHS" stood for Party Henshu (or Editing) System. Ironically enough, a type of mobile phone that was popular in Japan in the mid-'90s was called Personal Handiphone System, or PHS.
Ragnarok - The be-all and end-all of battles in Norse mythology. The gods would confront all evil and perish to form a new world.
Shinra (Shin-Ra, ShinRa) - The kanji for this company's name translates to "God Network" in Japanese.
Sister Ray - The name for Shinra's mako cannon probably comes from the title of a song. "Sister Ray" is the final track on White Light/White Heat, the Velvet Underground's last studio album, which originally came out in 1970.
Ziedrich - A German surname.
Behemoth - A word referring to something large and powerful. From the Hebrew term used in the Bible for a particular type of large animal (probably the hippopotamus).
Malboro (Molbor) - Said to be derived from Marlboro, a popular American brand of cigarettes. This is significant for the fact that one of the Malboro's attacks is "Bad Breath", which can also be interpreted as a side effect of smoking Marlboros.
Midgar Zolom - Derived from the Midgard Zolom, a creature in Norse mythology. The Midgard Zolom was a huge snake so long, it stretched around the entire world and could nearly swallow its own tail.
Stilve (Stilva) - In Greek mythology, Stilve was a nymph who was the mother of Lapith, the head of a race of people by the same name who battled against the Centaurs.