I've been writing a fantasy novel in which humans are the ruling class, largely striving to squash all magic users throughout the country. What I'm trying to do is come up with a derogatory term for these humans to use against all "Others"; something that could apply to every other race (orcs, witches, gnomes, dwarves, elves, etc.)

A quick bit of exposition, to explain my thought process thus far: Magic was created by the Moon. She gave birth to a dragon who flew to the earth below and shed its opalescent scales, scattering them like snow across every living creature. Humans were created when, centuries later, a selection of greedy witches decided they wanted more power, and attempted to find the dragon, slaughter it, and take the last of its scales. The Moon didn't like that and sapped their powers. From then on, they and their descendants were cursed. Never again would they be able to use magic.

What I've tried to do is divine a word referencing scales, snakes, or dragons - something that could have evolved into a slur over time.

Any help would be marvelous!

  • $\begingroup$ No, I suppose I'm more-so trying to come up with a new word. Like Muggle. $\endgroup$
    – user53195
    Jul 19, 2018 at 18:45
  • $\begingroup$ All others besides humans are sapped of magic or just witches? $\endgroup$
    – Samuel
    Jul 19, 2018 at 18:46
  • $\begingroup$ Only the group of people who originally attempted to slaughter the dragon, and their descendants. Years and years and years have passed since the origin of magic, so the humans have developed into their own separate, powerful race. $\endgroup$
    – user53195
    Jul 19, 2018 at 18:47
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ There are a few names for non-magic users that can be used in a derogatory way. like 'stills' or 'mundanes'. As for humans vs non-humans, we do that already, separating animals from ourselves. They might see them as subhuman, or 'subs'. $\endgroup$
    – Samuel
    Jul 19, 2018 at 18:50
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    $\begingroup$ Wait, I'm confused...is it a derogatory term the humans use to describe the others, or that the others use to describe humans? Which one did you want? (It looked to me like you wanted the first one, but some comments seem to be implying the second) $\endgroup$
    – Qami
    Jul 19, 2018 at 19:30

2 Answers 2


Just to be clear, What I understood is that you are looking for a name for magic users, AKA not-humans, and not for the humans themselves, right?

In that case, you can go several ways:

1) Use a known term or word as a derogatory. By that I don't mean a known derogatory from real life, just a common word which you treat as one. It would probably be best if it IS connected in some way to the origins of magic or the characteristics of magic users, especially those who are thought to be "negative" in the humans' eyes. To name a few examples:

Moonstuck- since magic comes from the moon, its not far-fetched that humans would treat it as if magic users were stuck with it by the moon, as if its an ailment.

Lizzies- since magic came from the scales of a dragon, which is a reptile similar to a big lizard, it may as well have become a derogatory slang word. Lizzies as lizard kin or something.

Slicks- the idea is similar to Lizzies. Reptiles tend to slither and are sometimes slick to the touch, and magic users are "devious" and use slick tricks etc.

Forktongues- same as Slicks, with added meaning of magic users being masters of deceit, thus 'fork tongued'.

2) You can invent a gibberish word and invent lore for it. You take a word that just sounds right, which has the right letters for what you need, but means nothing, and root it in your world, either pretending its from a native language of old or something of the likes, and set the meaning you want for it.

I cant do it for you since I don't know enough about your world but as an example, I'll explain an instance where I did it:

I wrote a post -apocalyptic world where due to the evolution of the Y gene and heavy radiation, most males are born sterile, deformed or stillborn. Many people are mutated and carry defective genes and are unable to reproduce or are sexless in essence. Most of the populace is female and a healthy male is a valuable resource. In that world, I use the word Zdraki as a derogatory which translates more or less to "sexless mongrel". I invented it, I rooted it in the world and created lore for it, an explanation for its existence and since I determined language has evolved with the society, I was able to get away with it.


Here's an answer I gave for another naming question. Here's a summary riffing off that: Make yourself three lists 1) the qualities these others have 2) a list of all the words that describe their duties and/or roles and 3) a list of all the qualities humans see them as having. USE only one word each, not a paragraph in this list. Then, hie thee to google with your list and enter each word along with "synonym." You can really use any word and turn it into a name as long as it fits, and doesn't sound stupid. You will come up with many, many options.

It's very easy to complicate something like this, and sticking to one-word description lists, gives you a jumping off point and makes it less complex for you. You're working in generalities to describe a large group of probably very different peoples and that's what's making it difficult. List those generalities/characteristics whatever they are that apply to ALL of them, and you have your start.

If you look at the real world Racists don't tend to have catch-all terms. They like to get specific.

For instance, white folk have been oppressing other groups for centuries, but we don't really have a catch-all term that's popular for non-whites.

Instead, they get specific. There's a whole passel of very specific terms for EACH race.

But I am having trouble figuring out what the characteristics are from what you've written.

Humans were created when, centuries later, a selection of greedy witches decided they wanted more power, and attempted to find the dragon, slaughter it, and take the last of its scales... What I've tried to do is divine a word referencing scales, snakes, or dragons - something that could have evolved into a slur over time.

which sounds like you want a name for humans?

But the question is:

Creating a derogatory term for non-humans in my fantasy novel?

It seems to more be centered around magic vs. non-magic in which case, the thesaurus is your friend. Here's a link to other words for witches and other words for warlocks and other words for magic.

That's a start, but what you do with it is really up to you and is dependant on your world-- blighter is one of the synonyms, having to do with the negative connotation of magic users blighting crops.

In my eyes, NONE of the words that humans use to reference non-humans of the magical variety should have anything to do with scales. It's the HUMANS that come from scales, not the magical races. Right? Humans were created then? I really can't tell who has magic and who doesn't from this... I will edit this answer as it if you edit the actual question for clarity...

If you want non-magical slurs, just start looking at antonyms and build from there.

If you're looking for a new version of muggle--there's plenty already out there. I've seen mundies, normies and the like already.

If magic is essential to humans (like they ALL have it and nobody doesn't) then you might be better off by starting to think about that.

Non-magic users would then be deemed incomplete, lacking, wanting...

So start with those words as a base, and again, thesaurus.

Flawed, incomplete, bare, empty...

You might even say that the lack of magic is evidence that they lack a soul, which is horrible, but soulless could also be a start. Callous, insensate are some of the words I've gotten off soulless.