Monster Hunter World

Monster Name Investigation: Elder Dragon Etymology (MHW)

A ya E n  SSa BA zWorld.0 1024x683 - Monster Name Investigation: Elder Dragon Etymology (MHW)

/u/Arckain- requested a mon etymology series, so here are the name origins for the elder dragons from Monster Hunter World.

Nergigante (jap. ネルギガンテ Nerugigante)
Nergigante's etymology is likely a combo of "gigante", Spanish for giant, and Nergal the Mesopotamian god of war, pestilence, and destruction. Nergal had epithets like "raging king" and "furious one" and had dominion over the Mesopotamian netherworld and deadlands. Nergal was also a sun god linked to the sunset (eg. the dying sun), as well as high noon and the summer solstice which were considered the most destructive times of day (Ancient Mesopotamia overlaps modern Iraq).
Zorah Magdaros (jap. ゾラ・マグダラオス Zora Magudaraosu)
"Zora" is a Czech and Slavic word for dawn, the antithesis of Nergigante's sunset association and fits thematically with the pair's conflict and the game's celestial themes. Zorah is also the birthplace of the biblical old testament folk hero Samson who was known for supernatural strength. The first part of "Magdaros" is a contraction of "magma". The "dara" of the Japanese name "Magudaraosu" may come from "darake" (だらけ covered all over with), so effectively "magma-covered". The Japanese name also shares its terminal three kana with Dire Miralis (jap. グラン・ミラオス Guran Miraosu), another disaster dragon filled with magma, perhaps suggesting a taxonomic relationship.
Xeno'jiiva (jap. ゼノ・ジーヴァ Zeno Jiiva)
A very straightforward name. "Xeno" is the Greek taxonomic prefix for "foreign" and often associated with aliens in pop culture. जीव Jīva is a living being filled with life force in in Hinduism and Jainism. Xeno'jiiva is literally an alien-like dragon filled with foreign life force.
Bazelgeuse (jap. バゼルギウス Bazerugiusu)
Bazelgeuse is not an elder dragon, but since it intrudes on all your investigations anyway, why not here? Betelgeuse (α Orionis) is a distinctly red hued star in the hunter Orion constellation, and one of the brightest stars in the sky (its luminosity is a bit temperamental). “Bazel” is unclear, but the whole name has noticable 3.5/6 kana overlap with another overactive, projectile wielding, orange pinecone wyvern – Steve Seregios (セルレギオス Seruregiosu).
Vaal Hazak (jap. ヴァルハザク Varuhazaku)
The Japanese version of the name mashes together the Norse hall of dead heroes "Valhalla" and the english word "hazard", trying to allude to a silvery dead warrior who fights and feasts. The English name diverts from that a little to play with the V/B japanese pronunciation quirk. Ba'al is best known in popular culture for being one of seven demon princes of Hell. The actual ancient middle eastern god was a bit variable, but in one version Ba'al was in charge of wind and weather and would hang out in the underworld until autumn when his return restored rain to the parched lands.
Teostra (jap. テオ・テスカトル Teo Tesukatoru)
Like many other monster names, Teostra's English name is a simplification of the longer Japanese name. The Japanese name's Teo is from ancient Greek θεός (theós, “god”). Tesukatoru seems to be a Japanese translation of Tecciztecatl (or Tecuciztecatl), the Aztec man-in-the-moon god. Teostra is a fire type because Tecciztecatl had to immolate himself to become a sun, only then to be downgraded to moon and have a rabbit thrown at him because he jumped in the fire after the guy who became the sun. Teostra is supposedly based on a jaguar because of the Aztec connection, but he still looks more like a lion to me.
Lunastra (jap. ナナ・テスカトリ Nana Tesukatori)
Teostra has a female mate that hasn't appeared in MHW (yet?), Lunastra. Like Teostra, Lunastra is based on an Aztec god Nanahuatzin who also sacrificed himself in fire along with Tecciztecatl so that he could become the sun. Unfortunately, Lunastra's English luna implies the moon, which is actually Teostra's territory.
Kushala Daora (jap. クシャルダオラ Kusharudaora)
The steel dragon's English name is the Japanese one romanized. Supposedly, the Japanese name is derived from Rudraksha (jap. ルドラクシャ rudorakusha), dried red seeds used as prayer beads in Hinduism. You'd hope the Daora gems would be red to reflect that, but nah.
Kirin (jap. キリン Kirin)
Even simpler than Xeno'jiiva, Kirin is the qilin/kirin. The kirin is an east-asian mythical chimerical creature with antlers, flowing hair, and cloven hooves. They are elusive, auspicious, divine, peaceful creatures who admire the sagacious and avoid harming the innocent. Kirins became entangled with giraffes when African animals were brought back East. Exact details vary by culture, but the average kirin is gradually adopting a more unicorn-like look due to western influences, often relinquishing its deer-like pair of antlers for a single conical spike.

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