This article is from the Final-Fantasy and other Square Soft Games FAQ, by email@example.com (Nick Zitzmann) with numerous contributions by others.
Nouvelle (from Legend of Mana): The French Gospel is called "La Bonne
Nouvelle", meaning "the good news". "Nouvelle" by itself can mean either
"new" or "news" in French.
Odin (from SaGa II/FFL II and every FF game after FF IV): In Norse
mythology, a giant cow which nourished the Frost Giant Ymir (before the
world was created) melted a curious block of ice one day, and the first
Norse Aesir, Bure, emerged from the block. Bure resisted Ymir, and
called upon his sons (who weren't born yet) to bring Ymir down. Ymir was
defeated, but Bure died in the battle. One of the surviving sons of Bure
was Odin, who then went forth and created Yggdrasil (the World Tree)
which linked Ymir's body (now called "Midgard," or the human world) to a
number of other worlds. For starting the creation of Yggdrasil and
fathering most of the Norse gods, Odin became the master god of all the
Norse Aesir/Vanir (who were the Norse gods). Today, we name our
Wednesday in honor of Odin. (See "Yggdrasil".)
Omega (from FF V and VIII): "Omega" is the last letter of the Greek
alphabet, and generally refers to the end of anything. (See "Alpha and
Ogopogo (from FF IV): Another sea monster! This particular one was
sighted in Lake Okanagan in Canada's British Columbia.
Quetzalcoatl (from FF VIII): Quetzalcoatl; in Aztec and Mayan
mythologies; was described as the winged-serpent god of human
sustenance, self-sacrifice, penitence, rebirth, and butterflies. The
Aztecs and Mayans believed Quetazalcoatl named all of their landmarks,
domesticated animals, established their priesthood, created fire, and
created music & dance. Quetzalcoatl was also believed to one day come
from the east and put an end to human kingship. As a result, the Aztecs
mistook the Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes as Quetzalcoatl, and
Cortes & his men proceeded to take down the Aztec empire & build Mexico
City in its place.
Ragnarok (from FF VI, VII, VIII, and Tactics): Yet another element of
Norse mythology. Ragnarok was the day when all the Norse gods and the
evil Frost Giants would meet in war (and unfortunately the Giants would
win). Due to the lack of gods, Yggdrasil would catch fire, and all the
worlds (including Midgard, the humans' world) would be scorched, making
Ragnarok a Norse version of an apocalypse. However, after a period of
darkness, several new entities (several sons of Odin and Thor) would
come out, restore Yggdrasil, and Midgard would flourish in a new world
of eternal peace.
Redrum (from Xenogears): Read it backwards, and it says "murder".
Regulus/Regrs (from Xenogears): "Regulus" is a Latin word, meaning
"little king". It is also the name of a star in the Leo constellation.
Renzokuken (form FF VIII): "Renzoku" is a Japanese word, standing for
continuity, and "ken" is the Japanese word for sword. Therefore,
"Renzokuken" means "consecutive sword."
Rosencrantz (from Vagrant Story): See "Guildenstern".
Rydia (from FF IV): Since the letters L and R are monophones in the
Japanese language, "Rydia" was probably directly named after the ancient
state of Lydia. Lydia was part of the Persian Empire (see "Cyrus"), and
its most famous leader, Croesus, initiated what became the Battle of
Marathon in Greece. Croesus was the richest man in the world in his day,
and is the origin of the seldom-used phrase "As rich as Croesus".
Seibzehn (from Xenogears): "Siebzehn" (note the spelling; the game's
spelling is incorrect) is a German word, meaning "seventeen". The number
most likely refers to the seventeenth step in the Hebrew sephiroth,
which refers to the beginning of the angel world. (See "Sephiroth" and
Seigfried/Sigurd (from FF VI and Xenogears): In addition to Beowulf,
Seigfried was another popular folk hero of the Norse. The legends say
that Seigfried was made invincible by bathing in the blood of a dragon,
but a leaf which fell into his bath left him with a weak spot between
the shoulders. Seigfried's story was retold in an opera by Richard
Wagner, in which each character had a theme song which would play
whenever a scene involved that character. This style of musical
presentation was applied initially in Final Fantasy IV, and has been
used in numerous other Square games since then.
Sephiroth (from FF VII and Xenogears): In Judaism, the "Sephiroth" is a
code of sorts, and the English word "cypher" comes from "sephiroth". The
word is Hebrew for "numbers," and have ten different aspects. The
Kabbalists (Jewish mysticists) believe that unlocking the Sephiroth is
the key to interpreting the scriptures from the bottom up, and thus
reaching Yhwh (God, Yahweh, Jehovah, etc).
Seraphim (from FF VI): In the Old Testament, the book of Isaiah tells us
about seraphim, supernatural beings who surround the throne of God
singing praises. They were given three pairs of wings: One for flying,
one to cover their feet, and one to cover their eyes (they couldn't look
at God directly).
Shiva (from FF IV through VIII): In Hinduism, Shiva is the god(dess) of
destruction. During his/her dance, when he/she beats on his/her drum,
one universe (out of many) is destroyed, and another one is made to fill
the void. (Maintainer's note: I've seen Shiva portrayed as either male
or female. The truth is out there...)
Shogun (from SaGa/FFL II): "Shogun" was the title awarded by Japan's
emperor to the samurai who, by their newly acquired title, then become
the military dictator of Japan. The line of shogun ruled Japan up until
the time of Prince Meiji in the late 19th century, who reformed the
nation and brought about the end of the shogunate.
Sleipnir (from SaGa/FFL II): Odin's eight-legged horse (see "Odin").
Soylent (from Xenogears): The word "Soylent" most likely came from a
science fiction book and movie, "Soylent Green," by Harry Harrison. The
book, set in the future, tells a story about a revolutionary new food
called "Soylent Green" which is made out of... people?
Stier (from Xenogears): "Stier" is a German word, meaning "bull". In
English, a "steer" is a castrated bull.