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.”