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Heavy Metal Band’s Name Etymologies


Malcolm and Angus Young developed the idea for the band’s name after their sister seeing “AC/DC” on an electric sewing machine,” why not AC/DC”.


The band was named after a motion picture released in 1961 entitled The Misfits. The Misfits’ skull logo was derived from the villain of the 1946 motion picture The Crimson Ghost.

Black Sabbath

Originally known as Earth, the group wanted to change their name as another group had the same name. The group saw a local cinema playing a film titled “Black Sabbath” and marvelled that people paid money to be frightened.

Children of Bodom

After being told by Spinefarm Records that the band’s name had to change (the group was initially signed on to another label under the name Inearthed), the group looked through a local phone book to search for inspiration, coming across Lake Bodom. The band, like most of Finland, was already aware of the unsolved triple murder which occurred at the lake, claiming the lives of three camping teenagers. The band believed they had found an impacting name with an interesting story behind it, and so chose the name Children of Bodom. Many of their songs have also been named after the murders, such as “Lake Bodom”, “Silent Night, Bodom Night”, “Children of Bodom” and “Bodom After Midnight”.


Drummer Joey Jordison suggested renaming the band from “Meld” to “Slipknot” after their song that eventually appeared on the band’s demo Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat.

Dio (band)

Was an American heavy metal band formed in 1982 and led by vocalist Ronnie James Dio, after he left Black Sabbath with intentions to form a new band with fellow former Black Sabbath member Vinny Appice, the band’s drummer. The name Dio was chosen because it made sense from a commercial standpoint, as the name was already well known at that time.


Named after guitarist Dimebag Darrell’s car, a De Tomaso Pantera.

Iron Maiden

Steve Harris named the band after the iron maiden torture device as shown in the 1939 film The Man in the Iron Mask.

Dream Theater

After a movie house in Monterey, California. The name was suggested by drummer Mike Portnoy’s father, who lived in Monterey.

Five Finger Death Punch

From the movie Kill Bill, named after the fictional martial arts move of the same name which after being struck by it and taking three steps your heart will explode.

Guns N’ Roses

An early incarnation of the band included Tracii Guns whose band was called L.A. Guns. Axl Rose, who had formed Hollywood Rose, combined his band with Tracii’s to form Guns N’ Roses.

Marilyn Manson

For Marilyn Monroe and Charles Manson.


After discovering their name Crawlspace was already taken, band bassist Vinnie Hornsby renamed the band after a brand of plant pesticide he found in his grandmother’s garage named Sevin dust.


While Dave Mustaine was traveling back to his home in the Bay Area on a bus after getting kicked out of his former band, Metallica, he would write lyrics on the back of a handbill to pass the time. The handbill itself quoted “The arsenal of megadeath can’t be rid no matter what the peace treaties come to,” which inspired him to use Megadeath as his band name. He later found out “The Megadeaths” was the former band name for Pink Floyd and dropped the ‘A’ in ‘Death’ to keep the name.


Derived from the word “Opet”, taken from the Wilbur Smith novel Sunbird. In this novel, Opet is the name of a (fictional) Phoenician city in South Africa whose name is translated as “City of the Moon” in the book.


Were originally called “The Mob”. The name is derived from a song on their EP “Queen of the Reich”, and is the only known use of the letter Y with an umlaut in English. It was used to soften “Queensreich” and not confuse the band with Nazism.


The band was named after the 1988 Ramstein air show disaster. At first, the band had denied this and said that their name was inspired by the giant doorstop type devices found on old gates, called Rammsteine. The extra “m” in the band’s name makes it translate literally as “ramming stone”.


Means “Grave” in Portuguese. The name was chosen after co-founder Max Cavalera translated the lyrics to the Motörhead song “Dancing on Your Grave”.

Mötley Crüe

When Mick Mars was playing with his old cover band White Horse he heard someone describing them as “motley looking crew”, he instantly took to the phrase and knew that someday he wanted to play in a band by that name. The spelling was eventually changed and umlauts were added.

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