Dinosaur Name Meanings: A Dive into Prehistoric Nomenclature

The world of dinosaurs is as fascinating as it is vast. These prehistoric creatures, whose name means “terrible lizard” in Greek, dominated the Earth for over 160 million years. But have you ever wondered about the meanings behind their names? In this article, we’ll explore the etymology and significance of various dinosaur names.

Understanding Dinosaur Names

Dinosaur names often provide insight into their characteristics, discovery location, or honor a person related to their finding. They usually derive from Greek or Latin words, resulting in interesting and sometimes quite descriptive monikers.

Velociraptor Name Meaning

Let’s start with one of the most well-known dinosaurs, thanks to its starring role in Jurassic Park – the Velociraptor. The name ‘Velociraptor’ comes from the Latin words ‘velox’ meaning swift and ‘raptor’ meaning robber or plunderer. So, the Velociraptor’s name aptly translates to ‘swift thief,’ reflecting its agility and predatory nature.

Brachiosaurus Name Meaning

The Brachiosaurus, another famous dinosaur, has a name that reflects its unique physical traits. ‘Brachiosaurus’ derives from the Greek words ‘brachion’ (arm) and ‘sauros’ (lizard). Thus, the name ‘Brachiosaurus’ means ‘arm lizard,’ referring to its longer front legs compared to its hind ones.

Nigersaurus Name Origin

The Nigersaurus, a lesser-known but equally intriguing dinosaur, was named after the place where it was discovered. Its name translates to ‘Niger reptile,’ highlighting the importance of its discovery location in Niger, Africa.

Triceratops Name Meaning

The Triceratops, recognized by its three-horned face, gets its name from Greek words too. ‘Tri’ means three, ‘keras’ stands for horn, and ‘ops’ means face. Hence, Triceratops translates to ‘three-horned face.’

Fun Dinosaur Names and Their Meanings

While some dinosaur names are quite serious, others have a fun or even cute ring to them. Let’s explore a few of these interesting names.

Majungasaurus and Fukuisaurus Pronunciation

The Majungasaurus, whose name means ‘Majunga lizard,’ is named after the region in Madagascar where it was discovered. Similarly, Fukuisaurus, translating to ‘Fukui lizard,’ was named after the Japanese prefecture of Fukui where its fossils were found. The pronunciation of these names can be tricky but saying them slowly, Ma-junga-saurus and Fuku-i-saurus, can make it easier.

Chicken Nodosaurus

‘Chicken Nodosaurus’ isn’t an official dinosaur name, but rather a nickname given to the Borealopelta markmitchelli. This dinosaur got its moniker due to its chicken-sized stature and its resemblance to the Nodosaurus family. It’s a great example of how dinosaur names can sometimes reflect their appearance in a lighthearted way.

Choosing Your Dinosaur Name

If you’re looking for a dinosaur name – perhaps for a pet, a character in a story, or even a fun nickname – consider what you want the name to reflect. Do you want it to convey power, like ‘Tyrannosaurus Rex,’ which means ‘tyrant lizard king’? Or would you prefer something playful, like ‘Stegosaurus,’ meaning ‘roofed lizard’ due to the plate-like structures on its back?

Remember, dinosaur names can be as diverse and fascinating as the creatures themselves. Whether you’re naming a pet lizard or just indulging in some prehistoric trivia, understanding the meanings behind these names can add an extra layer of enjoyment to your dinosaur exploration.


Dinosaur names, steeped in Greek and Latin roots, offer a glimpse into the characteristics, locations, and people associated with these magnificent creatures. From the swift thief Velociraptor to the arm lizard Brachiosaurus, each name tells a unique story about our planet’s prehistoric past. So, the next time you hear a dinosaur’s name, take a moment to ponder its meaning – you might just find yourself embarking on a fascinating etymological adventure!

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