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.”