Game of Words: Our 11 Favorites from ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 7


There you have it, the penultimate season of the series most likely to make us scream at our televisions. As in seasons past, we’ve gathered our favorite GoT terms, from knee bending to wheel breaking to what exactly are a grumkin and snark.


bend the knee

Daenerys: “Send a raven north. Tell Jon Snow his queen invites him to come to Dragonstone — and bend the knee.”

“Stormborn,” July 23, 2017

To bend the knee means to formally submit to a king, queen, or lord. The sense of submitting in general has been in use since at least the 17th century, according to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). From Richard II: “I hardly yet have learned / To insinuate, flatter, bow, and bend the knee.” Bend the Knee is also the name of a beer.

break the wheel

Tyrion [to Daenerys]: “After you break the wheel, how do we make sure it stays broken?”

“Beyond the Wall,” August 20, 2017

Daenerys first refers to breaking the wheel in “Hardhome”:

Lannister, Targaryen, Baratheon, Stark, Tyrell. They’re all just spokes on a wheel. This one’s on top, then that one’s on top. And on and on it spins, crushing those on the ground. I’m not going to stop the wheel. I’m going to break the wheel.

Tyrion makes a good point this season: despite her fireproof, dragon-whispering ways, Daenerys probably won’t live forever, and once she’s gone, who will succeed her? Unfortunately, denial ain’t just a river with Dany, and she refuses to discuss such matters.


Sansa: “Why would he give you a dagger?”
Bran: “He thought I’d want it.”
Sansa: “Why?”
Bran: “Because it was meant to kill me.”
Sansa: “The cutthroat. After your fall.”
Arya: “Why would a cutthroat have a Valyrian steel dagger?”

“The Spoils of War,” August 6, 2017

According to the OED, a cutthroat is a “ruffian who murders or does deeds of violence,” or “a murderer or assassin by profession.” The term has been in use since the 16th century. Cutthroat referring to ruthless competition seems to be from the late 19th century while he Online Etymology Dictionary says throat, 1970s college slang for a competitive student, comes from cutthroat.


Qyburn: “They’re on their way to the Dragonpit now.”

“The Dragon and the Wolf,” August 27, 2017

The Dragonpit is a large Colosseum-like structure at King’s Landing. It was once used by House Targaryen as a stable for their dragons and was destroyed in a civil war called the Dance of the Dragons. It’s said that the dragons grew smaller as a result of being confined to the Dragonpit.


Sam: “It’s a map of Dragonstone. The Targaryans built their first stronghold there when they invaded Westeros.”

“Dragonstone,” July 16, 2017

The castle on Dragonstone Island, Dragonstone is the “the ancestral seat of House Targaryen and in the beginning of the series, was “held for King Robert Baratheon by his brother, Lord Stannis.” Other castles in Westeros include Casterly Rock of House Lannister; Winterfell, the seat of the ruler of the North and traditional home of House Stark; and Pyke of House Greyjoy.

Golden Company

Cersei: “Highgarden bought us the most powerful army in Essos. The Golden Company.”

“The Dragon and the Wolf,” August 27, 2017

The Golden Company is a band of mercenaries, specifically sellswords, in Essos. Other types of mercenaries include freeriders, similar to mounted swellswords but who fight only for food supplies and a share of the plunder rather than regular payment, and sellsails, mercenary sailors.

grumkins and snarks

Jon Snow [to Tyrion Lannister of the White Walkers]: “Grumkins and snarks, you called them.”

“The Queen’s Justice,” July 30, 2017

Grumkins and snarks are mythical creatures in Westerosi folk tales and are spoken “in the same breath as ghosts, goblins, vampires, the bogeyman, etc.” Grumkins are “associated with granting wishes” and are implied to be “of short stature,” and “may also steal and replace children.” Snarks are often referenced as “an improbable danger.”

The word grumkin seems to have been created by George R. R. Martin, perhaps as a blend of gremlin and munchkin, given grumkins’ small size, while snark was coined by Lewis Carroll in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, referring to an imaginary animal.

The Long Night

Sam Tarly: “If you tell every maester in the Citadel to search every word of every faded scroll about the Long Night, they may find something that lets them defeat the Army of the Dead for good.”

“Eastwatch,” August 13, 2017

The Long Night refers to a winter that lasts an entire generation. The last Long Night occurred 8,000 years “before the Targaryen Conquest.” As a result, “thousands starved as the crops and fields lay buried under dozens of feet of snow.” At the same time, the “White Walkers descended upon Westeros,” giving rise to the War for the Dawn.

Night King

Bran: “You’ve seen the Night King. He’s coming for us.”

“Dragonstone,” July 16, 2017

The Night King is the supreme leader of the White Walkers, an “ancient race of humanoid ice creatures” who come from the Far North, as well as the master of the wights, corpses reanimated by White Walkers (think Walking Dead zombies, only less bitey).

The Twins

Archmaester Marwyn: “We’re not like the people south of the Twins. And we’re not like the people north of the Twins.”

“Dragonstone,” July 16, 2017

The Twins are another castle in Westeros, this one the seat of House Frey. Also known as The Crossing and consisting of two almost identical towers and a fortified bridge, the Twins “represents the only crossing point over” a river “for hundreds of miles in either direction,” a major barrier to those traveling from the North to the western Riverlands. Avoiding the Twins “requires a lengthy detour hundreds of miles to the south or hazardously traversing the bogs and swamps of the Neck to the north.”

Want even more GoT words? Check out our posts on seasons six, five, four, and three.


Game of Words: Our 11 Favorites from ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 6


As always, here be spoilers.

It’s June so you know what that means: time for the Game of Thrones season finale. We’ve been gathering our favorite GoT words for a while now, and this year is no different. Here are 11 of our favorites.

UPDATE: We’ve added a couple of terms from the season finale.

Bay of Dragons

Daenerys: “Specific orders will be left for you regarding the welfare of Meereen and the Bay of Dragons.”
Daario: “The Bay of Dragons?”
Daenerys: “We can’t call it Slaver’s Bay anymore, can we?”

“The Winds of Winter,” June 26, 2016

In Vietnam you can find a real-life Bay of Dragons. Called Hạ Long Bay, which translates literally as Bay of the Descending Dragon, the bay is either named for the dragon-like sea creatures spotted by early explorers or, according to Vietnamese legend, dragons sent as protectors against invaders. The dragons spit out “jewels and jade,” which became the islands and islets of the Bay, linking together to form a wall.

Brotherhood Without Banners

The Hound: “They’re from the Brotherhood. They follow the Red God.”

“The Broken Man,” June 5, 2016

This season the Hound encounters the Brotherhood Without Banners, an “outlaw group” whose goal is to protect the smallfolk, or peasantry, “regardless of which King or Lord they support.” The Red God is another name for the Lord of Light or R’hllor. The BWB members the Hound runs into are renegades themselves, slaughtering a settlement of smallfolk rather than protecting them.

dosh khaleen

Ser Jorah: “When Khal Drogo died, she was supposed to come here and join the dosh khaleen, the widows of the dead khals.”

“Book of the Stranger,” May 15, 2016

Dosh khaleen translates from Dothraki as “council of crones.” These widows of slain khals, or clan chieftains, serve as seers for the Dothraki and “preside over the holy city of Vaes Dothrak.”


Daenerys: “Dracarys.”

“The Battle of the Bastards,” June 19, 2016

Dracarys is a High Valyrian word that means “dragon-fire,” and is what Daenerys says to her dragons to make them unleash their blazey breath.


Randyll Tarly: “See that sword? It’s called Heartsbane. Been in our family for 500 years. . . .It’s supposed to go to my first born son after I die. He will never wield that sword.”

“Blood of My Blood,” May 29, 2016

The word bane comes from the Old English bana, “killer, slayer, murderer; the devil,” and refers to “that which causes death, or destroys life,” according to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). Bane came to refer especially to poison, in particular poisonous plants such as wolfsbane, ratsbane, and dogbane. A later meaning is a cause of ruin or woe, as in “the bane of one’s existence.”

iron price

Euron Greyjoy: “I wasn’t born to be king. I paid the iron price, and here I stand.”

“The Door,” May 22, 2016

To pay the iron price means to have gotten something by seizure rather than buying out the other party. That shameful practice, at least among the ironborn, is known as “paying the gold price.” The iron price is a tenet of the ironborn’s traditional lifestyle, also known as the Old Way.

little birds

Cersei [of the children]: “Varys’s little birds.”
Maester: “Your little birds now, your grace.”

“Oathbreaker,” May 8, 2016

The little birds, mainly street children, are the network of spies once employed by Varys, also known as the Spider and the Master of Whisperers, and “adviser in matters of intelligence and espionage.” The name little birds might come from the idiom, a little bird told me, which itself might come from the Bible.


Varys: “Mhysa means ‘mother’ in Valyrian.”
Tyrion: “I know what mhysa means.”

“The Red Woman,” April 24, 2016

Mhysa is, more specifically, Low Valyrian. The Low Valyrian spoken in Slaver’s Bay was influenced by Old Ghiscari, an ancient language of which a few loanwords remain. Mhysa is one of them. The High Valyrian word for mother is muña. Muño ēngos means “mother tongue”; muñar means “parents”; and Muña Zaldrīzoti is “the Mother of Dragons.”


Tyrion [to the dragons]: “When I was a child, my uncle asked what gift I wanted for my nameday. I begged him for one of you.”

“Home,” May 1, 2016

A nameday in Game of Thrones land is basically the same as a birthday since Seven Kingdom-ers receive their names on the day that they’re born. A name day in Christian faith is “the feast day of the saint after whom one is named,” as well as the day one is baptized.

take the black

Sansa [to Theon]: “When you take the black, all your crimes are forgiven.”

“Home,” May 1, 2016

When someone joins the Night’s Watch, it’s said that they take the black. The members of the Night’s Watch wear only black and are also referred to as the black brothers and, disparagingly, crows.

trial by faith

“After much prayer and reflection, the Crown has decided that from this day forward, trial by combat will be forbidden throughout the Seven Kingdoms. . . .Cersei Lannister and Loras Tyrell will stand trial before seven septors as it was in the earliest days of faith.”

“No One,” June 12, 2016

Trial by faith or trial of the faith is the idea of being tried by members of the Faith Militant. This is opposed to trial by combat, in which the accused and the accuser appoint fighters to battle each other to the death. A variation of trial by combat is trial by seven, in which each side appoints a team of seven fighters.

white raven

Sansa: “Jon, a raven came from the Citadel. A white raven. Winter is here.”

“The Winds of Winter,” June 26, 2016

While black ravens deliver messages, the white raven is sent from the Citadel specifically to announce the changing of the seasons, which, as every Game of Thrones fan knows, can last for years.

So what does it mean that winter is finally here? breaks it down: previous to winter was the longest summer ever, “which many believed was an ominous portent of things to come,” such as an especially harsh winter, and with that the Night King and his White Walker army, and, as Melisandre warns, the Great War still to come.

Game of Words: Our 14 Favorite Words from ‘Game of Thrones,’ Season 5


Spoilers galore!

Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

The latest season of Game of Thrones is coming to a close. We’ve seen uprisings, great battle scenes, a giant we totally want to hang out with, another terrible, horrible, no good, very bad wedding, and finally — finally! — Dany flying on a dragon, even if it was a bit Falcor-esque.

And as with seasons past, we’ve been collecting the most interesting GoT words. Here are 14 of our favorites.

Black Wedding

“Game of Thrones is famous for its tragic weddings, but last night the show pushed that into even darker territory with what fans have dubbed ‘the Black Wedding.’”

Mallory Busch, “Twitter Was Not Okay with the ‘Black Wedding’ on Game of Thrones,” TIME, May 18, 2015

Another season of Game of Thrones, another horrible wedding. We’ve already had the bloody Red Wedding and the poisonous purple one. Now we have the Black Wedding to add to our GoT lexicon.

The Black Wedding is what fans have dubbed the nuptials between Sansa Stark and Ramsay Bolton, nee Snow, in the episode “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken.” The ceremony takes place in the darkness of the Godswood, but the situation turns even darker when Ramsay horrifically assaults his young bride on their wedding night.


Stannis: “You don’t look like a soldier. But I’m told you killed a white walker. . . .How?”
Sam: “With a dagger made of dragonglass.”

“Kill the Boy,” May 10, 2015

Dragonglass is Westeros vernacular for obsidian, a volcanic glass formed from rapidly cooling lava. The word obsidian comes from the Latin obsidiānus, a misprint of obsiānus, “lapis,” named after Obsius, the Roman who supposedly discovered the stone.

Dragonglass and Valyrian steel are the only two known substances that can kill White Walkers.

Faith Militant

Cersei [to the High Sparrow]: “In the days before the Targaryens, the Faith Militant dispensed the justice of the Seven.”

“Sons of the Harpy,” May 3, 2015

The Faith Militant are the barefoot and berobed army of the Faith of the Seven, the dominant religion of the Seven Kingdoms. The religious regiment was disbanded long ago by King Maegor Targaryen but has made a fast and furious comeback.

Author George R. R. Martin has said the Faith Militant are based on the medieval Catholic Church, complete with corrupt religious leaders, aggressive reformation, and one god with multiple aspects, in this case seven as opposed to the three of the Trinity of the Catholic Church.


Announcer: “Free citizens of Meereen! By the blessings of the Graces and her majesty the Queen, welcome to the Great Games!”

“The Dance of Dragons,” June 7, 2015

The Graces are priestesses of the Ghiscari religion in Slavers’ Bay. While they have yet to appear on the show (at least as of this penultimate episode), in the books they wear different-colored robes according to their hierarchy. Red Graces are “cult prostitutes,” or those involved with sacred prostitution; Blue Graces are healers; White Graces are “young girls of noble birth” with yet undetermined grace-y skills; and the Green Grace, of which there’s only one, is the high priestess.


Gilly: “What do you call it in the south? What happened to your face.”
Shireen: “Greyscale.”

“The House of Black and White,” April 19, 2015

Greyscale is a contagious and often fatal disease that leaves the flesh scaly, gray (hence, the name), and “stone-like to the touch.” Princess Shireen Baratheon survived the disease, only to be left disfigured.

Greyscale might be likened to such real-life diseases as leprosy and ichthyosis. Leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, is contagious and causes ulcers of the skin, bones, and organs, often leading to loss of sensation, gangrene, and paralysis. Ichthyosis is hereditary and characterized by “dry, thickened, scaly skin,” hence its nickname, fishskin disease. The word ichthyosis comes from the Greek ikhthys, “fish.”

High Septon

Cersei: “The High Septon‘s behavior was corrosive, as was his attitude.”

“High Sparrow,” April 26, 2015

The High Septon is to the Faith of the Seven as the Pope is to the Catholic Church. “As the High Septon of the Faith of the Seven,” says the High Septon shortly after being found in a brothel, “I give voice to the will of the Gods and I am their foremost servant in this world.”

You probably won’t find this definition of septon in traditional dictionaries. The Century describes septon as “a principle formerly supposed to be the essence of infection,” while the Oxford English Dictionary says it’s a name for nitrogen, “from its being regarded as the agent in putrefaction.”

A discussion at describes septon as a word commonly used in science fiction and fantasy to describe the leader of a sept, or a division of a family or clan. Sept is probably an alteration of sect, which comes from the Latin secta, “course, school of thought.”

House of Black and White

Ternesio Terys [to Arya]: “The House of Black and White. This is where you’ll find the man you seek.”

“The House of Black and White,” April 19, 2015

Both a temple dedicated to the Many-Faced God and the headquarters of professional assassins known as the Faceless Men, the House of Black and White is so-called because half its door is ebony and the other half weirwood, which is white.

In the House of Black and White is the Hall of Faces, a crypt for the faces of the dead, which the Faceless Men use to change their appearance.

The Long Farewell

Tyene: “My dagger was coated with a special ointment from Asshai. They call it the Long Farewell. It takes time to work, but if a single drop makes contact with the skin, death.”

“The Gift,” May 24, 2015

The Long Farewell is native to the city of Asshai, which is to “the distant east of the Free Cities, Dothraki Sea, and Slaver’s Bay.” Other poisons of Westeros include Wolfsbane; Essence of Nightshade, a calming agent in small doses but fatal in large doses; and the Strangler, the culprit in King Joffrey’s wedding death.

Many-Faced God

Jaqen: “Lana is very impressive. Very industrious. She will make a fine servant for the Many-Faced God.”

“Hardhome,” May 31, 2015

In the books, the Many-Faced God is also known as Him of Many Faces, and is only called the God of Death in the TV series. The Faceless Men in particular worship this god and believe that the god “is unknowingly worshipped by most faiths, simply under different names,” and, presumably, faces.

Other gods with multiple faces include Janus, the Roman god of gates and doorways, depicted with two faces looking in opposite directions, and Brahma, the creator god in Hinduism, depicted with four faces for each of the four Vedas, or sacred texts.

Master of Coin

Cersei [to Mace]: “As the King’s Master of Coin, I can think of no one more qualified.”

“Sons of the Harpy,” May 3, 2015

The Master of Coin is basically the royal treasurer of Westeros. The position was previously held by Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish, who was seen as a true money master, “always about to conjure up gold to meet the Crown’s demands,” but who was actually borrowing huge sums from the Iron Bank of Braavos, leaving the Iron Throne in debt.

Master of War

Kevan: “What mission?”
Cersei: “That is not your concern as Master of War.”

“The House of Black and White,” April 19, 2015

Unlike the Master of Coin, the Master of War isn’t a “real” position in the Small Council but one Cersei devised to offer to her uncle with the purpose of stacking “stack the Small Council with sycophants.”

Sons of the Harpy

Daenerys: “Sons of the Harpy. . . .They’ve never killed before.”
Ser Barristan: “It was only a matter of time, your Grace.”

“The Wars to Come,” April 12, 2015

The Sons of the Harpy are gold-masked anti-Khaleesi marauders, hell-bent on killing the queen’s army. The Sons’ masks resemble the Harpy, which “takes the form of a giant gold statue atop the Great Pyramid, aka Dragon Queen HQ,” and which Daenerys covered with “a black banner bearing the three-headed red dragon insignia of House Targaryen.”

But who are the Sons of the Harpy the sons of? Some believe they’re controlled by the Masters of Slaver’s Bay, who lost everything when Dany freed their slaves. A fan theory suggests the Harpy is the Green Grace, the Ghiscari high priestess of Slaver’s Bay.

The word harpy comes from the Greek Harpiya, “snatchers.”


Kevan Lannister [to Cersei]: “They call themselves Sparrows. Bloody fanatics.”

“The Wars to Come,” April 12, 2015

The Sparrows are the un-armed version of the Faith Militant. This extremist division of the Faith of Seven was originally formed in response to “the suffering being inflicted on the commoners,” and become the Faith Militant after Cersei appointed the High Sparrow, the leader of the Sparrows, as the High Septon, and gave the Sparrows weapons. Of course this ends up being to her own demise.

Stone Men

Tyrion: “Stone Men. Good luck stopping this spread of greyscale with prayer.”

“High Sparrow,” April 26, 2015

Stone Men is the moniker given to those severely afflicted with greyscale and who have been exiled in a colony in the ruins of Old Valyria, much like lepers were once exiled to such isolated places as the Kalaupapa Peninsula of Hawaii.

Leper colonies, leprosariums, and lazar houses are all places used to quarantine those with leprosy. The word leper comes from the Greek lepros, “scaly,” while lazar comes from the New Testaments’s Lazarus, the “beggar full of sores” who would rise from the dead.

Want more GoT? Revisit our favorite words from seasons three and four, and definitely don’t miss the musical.

The Words of ‘Game of Thrones,’ Season 4



Another season of Game of Thrones has ended, and with it many lives — and many shits — were lost. But we kept our heads all season (see what we did there) and have compiled for you this handy glossary. Enjoy!

Book of Brothers

Joffrey [to Jaime]: “So this is the famous Book of Brothers. All the great deeds of all the great Kingsguard, huh?

“Two Swords,” April 6, 2014

The Book of Brothers, also called the White Book (after the white cloaks of the Kingsguard), “is the tome that records the deeds of every knight who has ever served in the three hundred year history of the Kingsguard.” In the Book of Brothers, Jaime has only half a page, as Joffrey helpfully points out.

Children of the Forest

Child of the Forest: “The first men called us the Children, but we were born long before them.”

“The Children,” June 15, 2014

The Children of the Forest are a mysterious race of creatures “that were reportedly the original inhabitants of the continent of Westeros.” and have been written off by most as mythic or extinct.

UPDATE: Jennifer Vineyard at Slate has a lot more on the Children of the Forest. The Children of the Forest are the ones who planted the weirwood heart trees and carved the faces in them, so they could keep watch,” who “helped fight back the White Walkers during the Long Night,” and “gave the Night’s Watch the dragonglass to keep [the White Walkers] at bay.”

The Citadel

Prince Oberyn: “The King was poisoned.”
Lord Tywin: “I hear you studied poisons at the Citadel.”
Prince Oberyn: “I did. This is why I know.”

“Breaker of Chains,” April 20, 2014

The Citadel is the seat of the Order of Maesters, “‘an order of scholars, healers, and learned men’ who focus on scientific knowledge and have only a ‘disdaining belief in magic.’”

The common citadel refers to “a fortress in a commanding position in or near a city,” or “a stronghold or fortified place; a bulwark.” The word comes from the Italian cittadella, diminutive of città, “city.”

Craster’s Keep

Jon Snow: “Brothers, I’m going beyond the Wall to Craster’s Keep. I’m going to capture the mutineers holed up there. Or kill them.”

“Oathkeeper,” April 27, 2014

Craster’s Keep is the “small, fortified homestead of” Craster, a wildling who has the habit of taking his own daughters as his wives and sacrificing his sons to the White Walkers.


Bronn: “How many Dornishmen does it take to fuck a goat?”

“Two Swords,” April 6, 2014

Dorne is a “constituent region” of the Seven Kingdoms, with “a unique culture, law, and ethnic background.” The Dornish “have more ‘relaxed’ views towards sexuality and love than the rest of Westeros,” including holding paramours, or the unmarried lovers of noble men and women, in the same regard as spouses; having no particular stigma against homosexuality; and raising bastards without stigma and alongside “their trueborn siblings and cousins.”

These “relaxed” views are probably what perpetuates jokes about Dornishmen having sexual relations with livestock.

Drowned God

Theon Greyjoy: “I am your prince. I swear it by the Drowned God. What is dead may never die.”

“The Mountain and the Viper,” June 1, 2014

The Drowned God is worshiped by the inhabitants of the Iron Islands, “one of the few regions in Westeros not abiding by the main religion of the Seven Kingdoms, the Faith of the Seven.” The North is another such region, “where the worship of the Old Gods of the Forest remains strong.”

What is dead may never die is the start of a common prayer that has the responding line, “But rises again, harder and stronger.”


Janos Slynt [as Giants approach the gate of the Wall]: “No such thing as Giants. Stories for the children.”

“The Watchers on the Wall,” June 8, 2014

Giants are thought by many to be the stuff of myth. However, as evinced by this episode, they exist “in the furthest north Beyond the Wall.” It’s said that Hodor, a “simpleminded” yet gargantuan servant from House Stark, is part giant.

Apparently, Giants “are very shy” but “their shyness can quickly turn into rage.” Moreover, the Free Folk, or wildlings, “believe giants were enslaved with magic to get them to build the Wall.”

The characteristics of giants differ across various mythologies. While in Norse and Welsh myths, giants are, well, gigantic, in ancient Greek tales, they “were a race of great strength and aggression, though not necessarily of great size.”

Gigantomachy, which comes from a Greek phrase meaning “giant battle,”  is “the mythological war of the giants against Zeus, symbolizing the antagonism between terrestrial and oceanic and celestial forces.”

Iron Bank of Braavos

Ser Davos: “I suppose if you work for the Iron Bank of Braavos, and each one of your gold bars is worth half a kingdom, you tend not to be overly concerned with the kind of distinction. . . .I need you to write a message.”

“Breaker of Chains,” April 20, 2014

The Iron Bank of Braavos is “the most powerful financial institution in the Known World,” and says of clients who fail to pay back their loans, “the Iron Bank will have its due.”

Find out how the Iron Bank stacks up against powerful real-life financial institutions.


Stannis Baratheon: “You’re the King-Beyond-the-Wall? Do you know who I am?”

“The Children,” June 15, 2014

The King-Beyond-the-Wall is Mance Rayder, the leader of the Free Folk or wildlings. He has managed “to unite a significant number of the northern tribes under his command, enough to pose a threat to the Seven Kingdoms south of the Wall.”

Moon Door

Robin: “It was already ruined because it didn’t have a Moon Door! I was fixing it!”

“Mockingbird,” May 18, 2014

The Moon Door is located in the floor of The Eyrie, the “principal stronghold of House Arryn,” which sits atop a mountain. The Moon Door opens to reveal a very long drop and is the execution of choice for Lady Arryn, ironically enough.

Lady Arryn has said that those dropped through the Moon Door “break apart.” However, according to Time, if the distance from the Moon Door to the ground below is “more than 2,000 feet,” the faller “would reach 125 miles per hour, which means broken bones and near-certain death — but not necessarily breaking into pieces.”

In addition, “such a fall wouldn’t be a 100% guarantee of death”:

During World War II, for example, there were lots of people falling out of burning airplanes — and, though many of them died, a lucky few survived, often thanks to a combination of factors that slowed their falls.

However, we doubt that Lady Arryn will be making a comeback.

Purple Wedding

“Aside from the bridegroom’s customary torture-tainment, everyone was on their best behavior … until the wine started flowing, and we realized why fans have dubbed this the Purple Wedding.”

Drusilla Moorhouse, “‘Game of Thrones’ kicks off a murder mystery with the Purple Wedding,” Today, April 13, 2014

The Purple Wedding refers to the wedding between King Joffrey and Margaery Tyrell, which takes place during the episode, “The Lion and the Rose.” The wedding is so-called by fans of the A Song of Fire and Ice novels due to the poisoned wine that is used to kill Joffrey and the association of the color purple with royalty. The televised version plays this up: Joffrey’s face turns a grotesque shade of purple as he dies.

Why is purple associated with royalty? Back in the day, purple dye was expensive and difficult to make. According to Live Science, the dye initially used to make the color purple was obtained “from a small mollusk that was only found in the Tyre region of the Mediterranean Sea.”

Like the Red Wedding, the Purple Wedding was inspired by a historical event. A Song of Fire and Ice author George R.R. Martin explained to Entertainment Weekly that he based Joffrey’s death “on the death of Eustace, the son of King Stephen of England.” Eustace “choked to death at a feast,” which people are still debating about a thousand of years later: “Did he choke to death or was he poisoned?”


Cersei Lannister: “Can’t say I’ve ever met a Sand before. I’m not quite sure what to call you.”
Ellaria Sand: “‘Ellaria’ works for everyone else.”

“Two Swords,” April 6, 2014

Each House in Westeros has a special name for their noble-born bastards, children born out of wedlock between a noble and non-noble. The monikers each have to do with geographic characteristics of each house or region: Snow for the North; Waters for The Crownlands; and Sand for Dorne.

In England during Anglo-Saxon times, “the descendants of kings were called aethelings, whether legitimate or not.” Those born “illegitimately,” also known as royal bastards, often had the surname Fitzroy, which ultimately comes from the Latin fils, son, and regalis (by way of the French roial), “of a king, kingly, royal, regal.”

Slaver’s Bay

Daenerys: “How can I rule seven kingdoms if I can’t control Slaver’s Bay?”

“First of His Name,” May 4, 2014

Slaver’s Bay is “the hub of the international slave trade” and may be based on the slave coast of Africa.


Tormund Giantsbane: “Thenns. I fucking hate Thenns.”

“Two Swords,” April 6, 2014

The Thenns are an advanced and disciplined wildling tribe, who engage in “self-scarification as well as cannibalism, feasting on the flesh of their enemies.” Evidence has been found that real-life ancient Britons also engaged in cannibalism, perhaps for the purpose of removing competing groups and getting more food, and of gaining the enemy’s power.

trial by combat

Tyrion: “I will not give my life for Joffrey’s murder and I know I’ll get no justice here. So I will let the gods decide my fate. I demand a trial by combat.”

“The Laws of Gods and Men,” May 11, 2014

Trial by combat is, according to Tyrion Lannister, “deciding a man’s guilt or innocence in the eyes of the gods by having two other men hack each other to pieces.” But the practice has real medieval history.

According to The Atlantic, in ancient England, trials by ordeal were more common than trials by combat. Such ordeals included:

pluck[ing] a stone from a cauldron of boiling water, oil, or lead; if their skin didn’t burn off, they were judged innocent. In other cases, the guilty were believed to be those who suffered grave injuries from walking across hot iron, or ingesting poison.

Injuries from walking across hot iron or ingesting poison? You mean like any normal person? It seems that if you were sentenced to trial by ordeal, you were SOL.

Trial by combat, The Atlantic continues, “happened less frequently…but persisted in history for longer.” A historical example is that “of a Flemish murder inquiry in the 12th century that was resolved in a duel distinctly recalling the one” on Game of Thrones,” in which when opponent was about “to deliver the coup de grâce,” the other “reached up and grabbed [his] testicles, held on to them tight, and then shoved [the man] aside without loosening his grip.” The man with “all his ‘lower parts broken apart’” had to admit defeat.


Daenerys [to Ser Jorah Mormont]: “Why did the Usurper pardon you?”

“The Mountain and the Viper,” June 1, 2014

Usurper “is a derogative term that refers to individuals who have seized power in opposition to a ‘legitimate’ or ‘rightful’ ruler.” It’s also what Daenerys, her brother, and House Targaryen loyalists call King Robert Baratheon, who took the Targaryen throne by force.

The word usurper comes from the Latin usurpare, “to seize for use, to use.”

white cloak

Sir Tywin [to Jaime]: “You’ll remove your white cloak immediately. You will leave King’s Landing to assume your rightful place at Casterly Rock. You will marry a suitable woman and father children named Lannister, and you’ll never turn your back on your family again.”

“The Laws of Gods and Men,” May 11, 2014

Members of the Kingsguard, “an elite group of seven knights” whose sworn duty “is to protect the king and the royal family from harm at all times,” dress in “gold plate and scale armor with white detailing and white armor,” thus gaining the nicknames, White Swords or White Cloaks.

The Kingsguard are like the Night’s Watch in that they “are sworn for life and are forbidden from owning land, taking a wife, or fathering children.” But while the Kingsguard are “supposedly the greatest and most skilled warriors in all of Westeros,” the Night’s Watch — who dress all in black, and thus are also called crows or black brothers — are “comprised of criminals avoiding corporal punishment or nobles avoiding scandal.”

Throne Soup: Our Favorite Words from ‘Game of Thrones’


Have you recovered from Sunday’s episode of Game of Thrones? We have, just barely, but not before losing our collective minds. We’ve recouped enough now to bring you our favorite words from this latest season of the show, just in time for this weekend’s season finale.

Special thanks to the excellent Game of Thrones wiki.


Ygritte: “In your hearts all you crows want to fly free.”

“Valar Dohaeris,” March 31, 2013

Crow is a derogatory nickname given to the Night’s Watch by the Free Folk, those who live beyond the Wall, thought to be the northernmost edge of civilization on Westeros, the continent where the most action of Game of Thrones takes place.

The Night’s Watch is “a military order which holds and guards the Wall.” Night’s Watch members “swear an oath of duty that is binding for life and prohibits marriage, family, and land ownership,” and dress entirely in black, giving rise to the nicknames crow and black brothers.

Other military nicknames that have to do with uniform color include greyback, redcoat, lobsterback, and blackcoat.


“She was Daenerys Stormborn, the Unburnt, khaleesi and queen, Mother of Dragons, slayer of warlocks, breaker of chains, and there was no one in the world that she could trust.”

George R. R. Martin, A Storm of Swords

Khaleesi is a Dothraki word referring to the wife of the khal, or warlord of a khalasar, a Dothraki clan or tribe. The Dothraki are a nomadic horse-riding people, similar to Eurasian nomads or the Native Americans of the Great Plains.

We learned recently that we’ve been pronouncing khaleesi wrong this whole time. While the word is popularly pronounced ka-LEE-see, it should be KHAH-lay-see, according to the show’s language creator, David J. Peterson.


Jaime Lannister: “You’re no maester. Where’s your chain?”

“Kissed By Fire,” April 28, 2013

A maester is one of “an order of scholars, healers, and learned men” who focus on scientific knowledge and have only a “disdaining belief in magic.” They wear a chain around their necks of varying substances to indicate their expertise in various fields of study, such as medicine and healing, money and accounting, warcraft, and “the higher mysteries,” or magic.

The Middle English word for master is mæstere.

Meereenese knot

Tyrion Lannister: “Kayla is famous from here to Volantis, one of the four women in the world who can perform a proper Meereenese knot.”

“Walk of Punishment,” April 14, 2013

The Meereenese knot is “a difficult-to-perform act of contortion or sexual gymnastics, named after the city of Meereen in Slaver’s Bay.” It also refers to “a complex series of plot problems author George R.R. Martin encountered” while writing the fifth novel in the series, A Dance with Dragons. Martin often blogged about this Meereenese knot, a play on Gordian knot, “an exceedingly complicated problem or deadlock.”

milk of the poppy

Qyburn: “You’ll need milk of the poppy.”
Jaime: “No milk of the poppy.”
Qyburn: “There will be pain.”
Jaime: “I’ll scream.”

“Kissed By Fire,” April 28, 2013

Milk of the poppy is an anesthetic or painkiller with addictive properties. It’s probably a play on opium, which is “prepared from the dried juice of unripe pods of the opium poppy,” and is also known as poppy tears.


Jaime: “He had his pyromancer place caches of wildfire all over the city.”

“Kissed By Fire,” April 28, 2013

A pyromancer is one who practices divination by fire or has “a magical ability to conjure or control fire.” This word comes from the Greek pyr, “fire, funeral fire,” and manteia, “oracle, divination.”

More pyr– words and mancy words.


Jeor Mormont [to Samwell]: “Did you send the ravens?”

“Valar Dohaeris,” March 31, 2013

Ravens are used to send messages across far distances, much like carrier pigeons in real life and owls in the Harry Potter universe.

The three-eyed raven is a supernatural messenger that appears in the dreams of Bran Stark.

Red Wedding

“The Red Wedding, the smallfolk are calling it. They swear Lord Frey had the boy’s head hacked off, sewed the head of his direwolf in its place, and nailed a crown about the ears.”

George R. R. Martin, A Storm of Swords

The Red Wedding is a massacre that takes place at the wedding that was intended to make peace between the Starks and the Freys. Game of Thrones fans (at least those who hadn’t read the books) were shocked, upset, and horrified.

The Red Wedding was inspired by two real-life events.

Second Sons, the

Jorah Mormont: “They’re called the Second Sons, a company led by a Braavosi named Mero, the Titan’s Bastard.”

“Second Sons,” May 19, 2013

The Second Sons are a company of mercenaries, soldiers for hire known for “their professionalism and ruthlessness in pursuit of a contract.” They’re so-called because the company is commonly made up of “second sons of lords and merchants” who as second-born males would inherit nothing from their fathers, everything going to the first-born sons.

Primogeniture is “the right of the eldest child, especially the eldest son, to inherit the entire estate of one or both parents,” as opposed to ultimogeniture, “by which the youngest son succeeds to the estate.”

Seven, the

Priest: “By the faith of the Seven, I hereby seal these two souls, binding them as one for eternity.”

“The Rains of Castamere,” June 2, 2013

The Seven, also known as God of Seven, the Seven-Faced God, or the New Gods, are the gods most dominantly worshipped by the Seven Kingdoms. The Seven have seven aspects: the Father, the Mother, the Maiden, the Crone, the Warrior, the Smith, and the Stranger.

Battlestar Galactica was another popular show with a polytheistic religion.

Unsullied, the

Ser Jorah Mormont: “Some say the Unsullied are the greatest soldiers in the world.”

 “Valar Dohaeris,” March 31, 2013

 The Unsullied are eunuch slave soldiers “famed for their skills and discipline in battle.” Presumably they’re called the Unsullied as they’ve never had sexual relations.


 Robb Stark [to his wife Talisa]: “Is that Valyrian?”

 “The Bear and the Maiden Fair,” May 12, 2013

Valyrian, divided into Low and High, is the language of the Valyrian Freehold, an empire that reigned uncontested for 5,000 years until “a cataclysmic event known as ‘The Doom’ laid waste to the Valyrian capital, its people, and the surrounding lands.” As a result, “Valyrian recorded history, spells, and knowledge were lost,” as well as its dragons. Only one of the “mighty families of dragonlords” survived, House Targaryen.

Valyrian steel is “a form of metal that was forged in the days of the mighty Valyrian Freehold,” and is extraordinarily sharp, strong, and expensive. Maesters trained in magic wear a Valyrian steel link in their maester chains.

Wall, the

Gilly: “Is the Wall as big as they say?”
Samwell Tarly: “Bigger. So big you can’t even see the top sometimes.”

“The Climb,” May 5, 2013

The Wall is a fortification that defends the Seven Kingdoms against the wildings who live beyond it. The Wall “stretches for 300 miles along the northern border,” is reportedly 700 feet high and made of ice, and is defended by the Night’s Watch (see crow).

Real-life fortifications include the Maginot Line, the Great Wall of China, and more.


Mance Rayder: “He’s a warg. He can enter the minds of animals and see through their eyes.”

“Dark Wings, Dark Words,” April 7, 2013

A warg is a person with the ability to enter the minds of animals and control them. In the stories of J.R.R. Tolkien, a warg is a “particularly evil” kind of wolf, says the Oxford English Dictionary. The word comes from the Old Norse word for wolf, vargr.

Bran Stark, who is a warg, first encounters his abilities in dreams in which he sees through the eyes of his pet direwolf, Summer.

White Walkers

Jon Snow: “Thousands of years ago, the First Men battled the White Walkers and defeated them. I want to fight on the side that’s for the living.”

“Valar Dohaeris,” March 31, 2013

The White Walkers are mythological “creatures of ice and cold who, more than eight thousand years ago, came from the uttermost north.” They have the ability “to reanimate the dead as their servants, known as Wights.” A wight is also any “preternatural, unearthly, or uncanny creature.”

The First Men were “the original human inhabitants of Westeros.”


Jaime: “You heard of wildfire? The Mad King was obsessed with it.”

“Kissed By Fire,” April 28, 2013

Wildfire, known by pyromancers as the Substance and derisively as pyromancer’s piss, is a “highly volatile material which can explode with tremendous force and burns with a fire” immune to water and that can only be extinguished by large amounts of sand. Wildfire is similar to Greek fire or napalm.


 Night’s Watch Member: “He’s a bloody Wildling all he is.”

 “And Now His Watch Is Ended,” April 21, 2013

Wildling is a derogatory term for the Free Folk, people who live north of the Wall. A wildling is also “a wild plant or animal, especially a wild plant transplanted to a cultivated spot.”