Characters & Places

Tarrie  Tintin’s faithful companion. His name means terrier in Scots. He is called Milou in French, Snowy in English, Terry in Danish and Norwegian, and Tobbi in Icelandic! For names in other languages, see this list.

Nisbet and Nesbit the two glaikit detectives that follow Tintin. You can tell them apart by their moustaches! Nisbet has a curled moustache and Nesbit has a straight one.

Mrs Lintie Tintin’s landlady. Her surname is the Scots word for a linnet. (In French she is called Madam Pinson, which means ‘Mrs Chaffinch’.)

The Hairy Etin (Derk Isle) based on the Red Etin of Scottish folklore, a flesh-eating giant whose red colour came from the blood of his victims! He was said to utter this grisly rhyme as he hunted his victims: ‘Snowk but, snowk ben, I smell the bluid o earthly men’.

Cameron Cartouche (Merk o the Pharaoh) the absent-minded professor and Egyptologist who is searching for the tomb of Pharaoh Kih-Oskh. A cartouche is an ancient Egyptian name-plate in an oval shape. (In the original French text, his name is Philémon Siclone.)

Sergeant Sur-Duq (Merk o the Pharaoh) the crabbit drill sergeant who recruits Tintin. His name is a pun on the Scots word soor dook, which means ‘sour milk’ and also ‘a sour, mean person’.

Blissit Fireflaucht (Snaws o Tibet) a Buddhist monk. His name means ‘Blessed Lightning’.

Chitterin Licht (Snaws o Tibet) a Buddhist monk. His name means ‘Flickering Light’ and refers to a line in Hugh MacDiarmid’s poem, ‘The Watergaw‘.

Poutherie Snaw (Snaws o Tibet) the name that the monks give to Tarrie. It means ‘Powdery Snow’.

Mr Octavius (Ottokar’s Sceptre) the royal photographer. His name is a homage to David Octavius Hill, who along with Robert Adamson pioneered photography in Edinburgh in the 1840s. (In the original French text, his name is Monsieur Czarlitz.)

Hamish Brewster (Ottokar’s Sceptre) the bespectacled professor and sigillographer. His name is a homage to David Brewster, the Scottish scientist and expert in optics who invented the kaleidoscope. (In the original French text, his name is Nestor Halambique.)

Lieutenant Korbi (Ottokar’s Sceptre) his name is a pun on corbie meaning ‘raven’ (so-named because his neb looks like the beak of a corbie).

Niblik and Tizov (Ottokar’s Sceptre), two of the conspirators. A niblick is an old-fashioned type of golf club, and the phrase tees off also refers to the game of golf.

Ivan Ivanovitch Pandrop (Saicret o the Unicorn) the obsessive model collector. His surname refers to a type of a hard peppermint sweetie. (In French his surname is Sakharine.)

Kelvin Kenspeckle (Rachlan the Reid) the hard-of-hearing inventor of the shark submarine. His first name is a homage to Glasgow University physicist William Thomson (Lord Kelvin) and his surname means ‘conspicuous or easily recognisable’. (In the original French text, his name is Tryphon Tournesol.)

Boethius Bannock (Ferlie Starn) the starn-keeking professor who is fond of sweeties. He is named after the medieval Scottish philosopher and historian, Hector Boece (in Latin Boethius) and his surname refers to a traditional Scottish type of oatmeal cake. (In the original French text, his name is Hippolyte Calys.)

Haiverus the Spaeman (Ferlie Starn) the prophet of doom. A spaeman is a Scots word for a soothsayer. His name is based on the Scots word haivers, meaning nonsense or blethers – because his prophecies are all haivers.

Corbiecraig Castle (Derk Isle) the name means ‘crag of corbies or ravens’.

Inverdoom (Derk Isle) the name means ‘mouth of (the river) Doom’.

Al-Jabra (Merk o the Pharaoh) the name is a pun on algebra, which itself comes from an Arabic word meaning ‘reunion of broken parts’.

Cullenskink Hoose (Snaws o Tibet etc) the ancestral home of Captain Haddie. Cullen skink is a traditional Scottish soup made with smoked haddock (haddie), tatties and milk. (In the original French, it is Château de Moulinsart.)

Khor-Bisang (Snaws o Tibet) the name of the monastery is a pun on Corbie Sang, meaning ‘Raven Song’. (In both French and English versions, it is called Khor-Biyong.)

Gowdspink Road (Auld King Ottokar’s Sceptre) the address of the Syldavian restaurant. The name means ‘Goldfinch Road’.

Sangshov Pavilion (Auld King Ottokar’s Sceptre) the name of the concert hall is a version of Sangshaw (‘Song Festival’), the title of Hugh MacDiarmid’s 1925 collection of Scots poems.