If you haven’t yet seen the Angry Video Game Nerd review of Zelda II, you probably should. There’s a rant at the beginning about how the names of the enemies from the first Zelda game (many of which carried over into other games) don’t make any sense. This is indeed true of some of them, but I did have to wonder whether some of them did have explanations.
Zeldapedia was a help in this respect, giving the etymologies for some of the names. Oddly, this is one of at least two different Zelda wikis. Damn you, free enterprise! I actually found this one first, but it doesn’t have as much on this particular topic.
Some of the Zelda enemy names are easy to figure out. An Octorok, for instance, is an octopus-like enemy that spits rocks.
And a Wizzrobe is a wizard in a robe.
Simple enough. Armos are armored, and Wolfos are wolves. Moblins are a little harder to figure out, but the Japanese name is “Moriburi,” meaning “forest goblin.”
The name of the Moldorm ends with the same three letters as “worm,” but I don’t see any connection to mold.
This page suggests a connection between Goriyas and gorillas, but I wouldn’t be so sure, as they look more like canines than apes.
In fact, in the first Zelda game, they’re almost indistinguishable from Moblins, aside from the facts that they live underground and throw boomerangs instead of spears.
The Keese, one of those names the Nerd complained about, might be a reference to the Keres of Greek mythology.
With some other names, it seems like your guess is just as good as mine. While I get that snakes bear a similarity to ropes, it’s still kind of weird that that’s what they’re called in the series. What it actually makes me think of is the jnana yogi’s comparison of achieving enlightenment to realizing a perceived snake is really just a rope. It probably loses something in translation. And what about the rabbit-like Pols Voice? I’ve long wondered whether there’s any significance to its rhyming with “Rolls Royce,” but maybe it’s actually meant to pronounced more like “Paul’s voice.”
You’d think the “aqua” part of Aquamentus would have some purpose, but I don’t know of any association of this creature with water.
Finally (at least for this post), it’s possible that the Darknuts, who were seemingly given that name just to make children snicker, were actually intended to be Dark Knights or Dark Knuckles. If so, who the hell botched THAT translation?