81 Names That Mean Manipulative (for Storytelling or Fiction)

Lily Parker

Using names that mean manipulative is uncommon, primarily because most cultures do not typically bestow names with negative connotations such as ‘manipulative’ on their children.

Names are often chosen to represent positive traits or aspirations.

However, some names can be associated with manipulation, trickery, cunning, or cleverness, which might be considered manipulative in certain contexts and can be used for storytelling or fictional characters.

Boy Names That Mean Manipulative

Here’s a list of 30 boy names that may carry connotations of manipulation, cleverness or guile, along with brief explanations that justify their relevance to trickery, cunningness, or manipulation.

Keep in mind that while these names may be suited to characters with such traits, their cultural meanings can vary and might not directly translate to negative qualities.

1. Loki – A trickster god in Norse mythology known for his deceit and cunning behavior.

2. Delano – Of French origin meaning “of the night,” which can suggest secretive or cunning behavior.

3. Jonah – Means “dove” in Hebrew but a character in the Bible who tried to evade God’s command, suggesting a tricky situation.

4. Merle – Translates to “blackbird” in French, a bird often associated with cleverness.

4. Sly – Directly connotes craftiness and cunning.

6. Rasmus – Often associated with being clever and cunning due to the folklore trickster “Till Eulenspiegel,” who went by the name Rasmus in Scandinavian versions.

7. Talon – Meaning “large claw of a bird of prey,” which can metaphorically relate to a character who grabs what he wants, possibly through cunning or trickery.

8. Fox – After the animal known for being sly and cunning.

9. Gile – A variant spelling of “Guile,” meaning craftiness and cunning.

10. Blaise – While it means to stutter in French, it suggests a character who is sharp as in the famous math wizard, Blaise Pascal.

11. Kavi – Of Indian origin meaning “wise man” or “poet,” often associated with wit.

12. Malin – A name of Scandinavian origin meaning “little strong warrior,” hinting at tactical and strategic thinking.

13. Dolos – Named after a Greek mythological spirit personifying trickery and deception.

14. Keir – Of Celtic origin meaning “dark-skinned” but can be associated with mystery and secrecy.

15. Coy – Initially meaning “quiet and still,” it has come to suggest being purposefully shy or secretive.

16. Makhi – Meaning “battle,” which could be metaphorically linked to a strategic or manipulative individual.

17. Wiley – Meaning “crafty from the wily,” directly referring to cunningness.

18. Hermes – A Greek god known for being a cunning messenger and trickster.

19. Jarek – Suggestive of someone strong or fierce in Slavic languages; a character with this name might be adept in manipulation.

20. Eurion – Of Welsh origin meaning “gold.” It could imply a character with a persuasive allure.

21. Stratton – Meaning “from the town on the Roman road,” possibly suggestive of strategic or cunning characteristics.

22. Artem – Derives from Artemis who is associated with the hunt, potentially implying a cunning nature.

23. Iago – From Shakespeare’s Othello, a character who epitomizes deceit and manipulation.

24. Jett – Meaning “black mineral,” but the quickness implied in ‘jet’ can suggest a quick-witted, cunning character.

25. Crafton – A name that suggests craftsmanship and could be extended metaphorically to someone adept at cunning plans.

26. Norman – Meaning “man of the north” but also carries connotations of Vikings, who were often strategic and cunning.

27. Corbett – Meaning “young crow,” and crows are often associated with cunning behavior and intelligence.

28. Fagan – Evokes Charles Dickens’ “Oliver Twist” character, a cunning leader of a group of pickpockets.

29. Lowell – Of Old French origin meaning “young wolf,” indicative of someone who could be seen as cunning or ferocious.

30. Beck – A name that means “brook” or “stream” in Old Norse, suggesting a fluid and adaptive character, potentially in terms of cunning or strategy.

These names provide a diverse range, from various cultures, that could fit into stories requiring a range of trickster archetypes.

Girl Names That Mean Manipulative

These girl names might suit storytelling or fictional characters where such traits are desired:

1. Morgana – (Welsh) Sister of King Arthur, known for her enchantments and manipulation. Originates from Arthurian legend.

2. Lilith – (Hebrew) Thought to be the first wife of Adam, associated with the night and sometimes considered a figure of seduction and independence.

3. Seshat – (Egyptian) Goddess of wisdom, knowledge, and writing, who could outwit her opponents.

4. Eris – (Greek) Goddess of chaos and discord, known for starting the Trojan War through cunning means.

5. Delilah – (Hebrew) The woman who deceived Samson in the Bible, often a synonym for a treacherous or seductive woman.

6. Jezebel – (Hebrew) A queen known for her use of power and manipulation, often used to describe a conniving woman.

7. Pandora – (Greek) “All-gifted”. Although her curiosity brought forth chaos, she was also cunningly used by the gods as a vessel of disaster.

8. Circe – (Greek) Enchantress who used her knowledge of potions and herbs to transform her enemies.

9. Medea – (Greek) Sorceress known for her revenge against Jason through cruel and cunning means.

10. Nimue – (Welsh) Also known as Viviane, the Lady of the Lake in Arthurian legend, sometimes depicted as cunning and manipulative.

11. Carmilla – (Literature) A vampire countess from Gothic literature who used her charm to manipulate those around her.

12. Morrigan – (Irish) A goddess associated with fate and known to use her powers to influence battles and kings.

13. Mara – (Sanskrit) Meaning “illusion” or “death,” known in Buddhist texts as a demon who tried to deceive Buddha.

14. Tzivya – (Hebrew) Meaning “gazelle,” connoting grace and agility, which can be interpreted as cleverness in fiction.

15. Matilda – (German) Means “mighty in battle,” but the name can be used for a character who uses her wit to outmaneuver others.

16. Isolde – (German, Welsh) A name from Arthurian romance known for a tragic love affair, which involved deception.

17. Bellatrix – (Latin) Meaning “female warrior,” this name was given to a cunning and skilled witch in the Harry Potter series.

18. Lorelei – (German) A name associated with a siren who lured sailors to their doom with her enchanting voice.

19. Selena – (Greek) Meaning “moon,” which can symbolize mystery and secrets, traits often linked to a cunning nature.

20. Mélisande – (French) Associated with mystery and secret-keeping in the opera “Pelléas et Mélisande.”

21. Regina – (Latin) Meaning “queen,” a name that can embody strategic and cunning leadership.


More Names with Relevant Meanings to Trickery, Clever or Manipulative

These are also some of the names having relevant meanings to trickery, manipulation and cunningness. They are good names for bad characters in stories and fiction:

1. Slytherin – Meaning “cunning” or “crafty”; inspired by the cunning house in the Harry Potter series; Origin: Fictional

2. Ruse – Meaning “a deceptive maneuver”; a name that embodies trickery; Origin: English

3. Duplica – Meaning “duplicity” or “deception”; a name suggesting cunningness; Origin: Latin

4. Mystique – Meaning “a sense of mystery or secrecy”; conveys an air of cunningness; Origin: French

5. Wile – Meaning “a cunning trick or strategy”; a name suggestive of deception; Origin: English

6. Stratagem – Meaning “a cleverly devised plan”; signifies cunningness and trickery; Origin: Greek

7. Guile – Meaning “slyness” or “cunning”; a name with a deceptive connotation; Origin: English

8. Artifice – Meaning “clever or cunning devices or expedients”; suggests trickery and craftiness; Origin: Latin

9. Rogue – Meaning “a dishonest or unprincipled man”; conveys a sense of cunningness and deceit; Origin: English

10. Vesper – Meaning “evening star”; suggests a sense of mystery and cunningness; Origin: Latin

11. Shadowmere – Inspired by the shadowy depths and stealthiness of the night; conveys a sense of cunningness and mystery; Origin: Fictional

12. Eclipse – Meaning “the obscuring of the light from one celestial body by the passage of another”; suggests stealth and cunningness; Origin: English

13. Chameleon – Inspired by the lizard known for its ability to change colors to blend in with its surroundings; conveys adaptability and cunningness; Origin: Greek

14. Sphinx – Inspired by the mythical creature known for its enigmatic nature and cunningness; Origin: Greek

15. Deimos – Named after the Greek god of terror, often associated with fear and trickery; conveys a sense of cunningness and intimidation; Origin: Greek

16. Obsidian – Meaning “a hard, dark, glass-like volcanic rock”; suggests stealth and cunningness; Origin: English

17. Scourge – Meaning “a whip used as an instrument of punishment”; conveys a sense of intimidation and cunningness; Origin: English

18. Revenant – Meaning “a person who has returned, especially supposedly from the dead”; suggests a mysterious and cunning nature; Origin: French

19. Harbinger – Meaning “a person or thing that announces or signals the approach of another”; conveys a sense of foreboding and cunningness; Origin: English

20. Covet – Meaning “to desire wrongfully, inordinately, or without due regard for the rights of others”; conveys a sense of greed and cunningness; Origin: English

21. Nyx – Named after the Greek goddess of the night, often associated with darkness and mystery; conveys a sense of cunningness and stealth; Origin: Greek

22. Sable – Meaning “the color black”; suggests stealth and cunningness; Origin: French

23. Inferno – Meaning “a large fire that is dangerously out of control”; conveys a sense of destruction and cunningness; Origin: Italian

24. Nebula – Meaning “a cloud of gas and dust in outer space”; suggests a sense of mystery and cunningness; Origin: Latin

25. Hades – Named after the Greek god of the underworld, often associated with darkness and trickery; conveys a sense of cunningness and intimidation; Origin: Greek

26. Virago – Meaning “a domineering, violent, or bad-tempered woman”; suggests a sense of feminine cunningness and strength; Origin: Latin

27. Apex – Meaning “the highest point”; conveys a sense of superiority and cunningness; Origin: Latin

28. Oblivion – Meaning “the state of being unaware or unconscious of what is happening”; suggests a sense of mystery and cunningness; Origin: English

29. Vortex – Meaning “a mass of whirling fluid or air”; suggests a sense of chaos and cunningness; Origin: Latin

30. Specter – Meaning “a ghostly figure”; conveys a sense of mystery and cunningness; Origin: Latin

31. Obscura – Meaning “a hidden or secret thing”; suggests a sense of mystery and cunningness; Origin: Latin

32. Maven – Meaning “an expert or connoisseur”; conveys a sense of knowledge and cunningness; Origin: Yiddish

33. Nihil – Meaning “nothingness”; suggests a sense of emptiness and cunningness; Origin: Latin

34. Valkyrie – Inspired by the Norse mythological figures who choose those who may die in battle and those who may live; conveys a sense of strength and cunningness; Origin: Norse

35. Phantom – Meaning “a ghostly apparition”; suggests a sense of mystery and cunningness; Origin: English

Names with Manipulative, Trickster or Cunning Connotations

In various mythologies and literary contexts, there are figures whose names have become synonymous with cleverness and sometimes manipulation.

Mythological and Literary Figures

  • Odysseus: Known for his cunning in Homer’s “Odyssey,” Odysseus’s name can be associated with cleverness and strategy, which might involve manipulation.
  • Merlin: The legendary wizard from Arthurian legend known for his wisdom which can sometimes be seen as cunning or manipulative.
  • Puck: Also known as Robin Goodfellow, a mischievous fairy in English folklore, and a character in Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

Understand the Character Arc

When you choose a name that suggests trickery or cunning, ensure that it resonates with your character’s development throughout the story.

These names can set expectations for their journey, potential transformation, or downfall. Deliberate how the meaning of the name can be reflected in key moments of their arc, giving depth to their actions and choices.

Balance Stereotypes with Depth

A name that hints at deception should not limit your character to villainy. Build a multi-dimensional character with motives, regrets, and positive traits.

This complexity can create empathy and engage your readers, adding a layer of sophistication to your narrative.

Reflect Cultural Significance

Names often carry cultural weight. Utilize this by aligning the character’s background with the name’s origin, which can enhance their believability and reinforce the character’s role within the story.

It’s a subtle nod to savvy readers who understand the connotations attached to cultural contexts.

Create Contrast and Irony

Sometimes, the most interesting use of a cunning-related name is to apply it ironically.

A character named after a trickster god might be straightforward and honest, creating a tension that can intrigue and surprise the audience.

Use Symbolism to Enhance Themes

Names imbued with meanings of guile can act as symbols that support your story’s thematic elements.

For example, a character named after a mythological figure known for cunning could represent the theme of survival through wit.

Integrate with World-Building

Incorporate names into the fabric of the world you’re creating. Let the name’s meaning reflect the environment, societal norms, or magic system in your fiction.

This integration helps in making the name an organic part of your story’s universe.

Consider the Sound and Feel

The phonetics of a name contribute to the reader’s perception. Names with sharp sounds or smooth, whispery syllables can subconsciously influence how a character is viewed.

Play with the sound to match the character’s personality—sharp for the incisively clever or soft for the subtly manipulative.

Use Names to Foreshadow

Names meaning trickery or cunning can act as foreshadowing devices.

Revealing a name’s meaning at a critical juncture can add dramatic weight to a plot twist or character revelation, thus enriching the reader’s experience.

Avoid Overcomplicating

While a name with a rich background is interesting, it should be easy to remember and pronounce.

Readers are likely to be put off by names that are too complex or too long, which can diminish the character’s impact.

Let Characters Question Their Names

Characters could be aware of their names’ meanings and grapple with them. This self-awareness can fuel conflict, especially if they wish to defy the expectations set by their names, and it can serve as a tool for character growth.

Implementing these tips can ensure that names with meanings of manipulation, trickery, or cunning serve as more than just labels. They become integral to your characters’ identities and play a significant role in weaving a compelling narrative.