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Disney Films

Snow White: Naming the Dwarfs

1937

The dwarfs themselves were, Disney believed, the heart of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and many grueling weeks went into their development. Other sources of information might have you believe that as many as fifty different dwarf names were conceived of and rejected, but this is not the case -- at no time did Disney ever consider having more than seven dwarfs, although he did toy with several different sets of dwarfs.

It was originally thought that the seven dwarves should mirror some "seven" that the audience was familiar with. The seven wonders of the world, perhaps, or the seven sins (Envy, Lust, Gluttony, Sloth, Ire, Hubris, and Doc). Someone suggested that the dwarfs be gamblers -- the "lucky seven." Another young writer, Akira Kurosawa, suggested that they be seven samurai, but everyone just looked at him like he'd stood on his head in church and went on with their own suggestions.

For a while, the idea was tossed around to have the dwarfs named after important figures in literature and music (e.g., Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, George, and Ringo), with appropriate "in jokes" made through the film, but test audiences found such highbrow tactics offputting.

Finally, Disney hit upon the idea of thinking of characteristics for the dwarfs and then giving them appropriate names afterwards. This "backwards" method of naming turned out to be just the ticket. Many possible characteristics were considered (incorrigible, bossy, orderly, stately, spacey, soused, albino, amphibious, destitute, disposable, ticklish, timely, effeminate, fastidious, feral, dressy, dusty, hairy, salty, testy, snooty, tasty, pasty, stuffy, picky, gangly, parsimonious, unintelligible, whimsical, stigmatic, socialist, smelly, tardy, mushy, nerdy, groovy, bland, boneless, blasphemous, anemic, anarchic, platonic, radical, rascally, quarterly, literary, ineligible, impregnable, inflammable, flatulent, genderless, marginal, hideous, hysterical, hyperactive, hyperbolic, hypersensitive, bureaucratic, Brobdingnagian, codgerly, automated, balding, bionic, bivalve, bubbly, bigo ego, piggy, chipper, floundering, fifer, fiddler, practical, jasmine, maleficent , scar, beauty, beast, Captain Hook, pearly white, cross-pollinated, low-carb, tone deaf, decompressed, sunburnt, tarnished, transparent, trustworthy, persistent, pantsless, omnivorous, ominous, omnimoving, oxymoronic, omnipresent, onomatopoetic, caffeinated, cancerous, titanic, Herculean, narcissistic, Sisyphustic, cuckolded, inarticulate, incontinent, luminous, miniscule, miserly, mossy, myopic, orchestral, canine, cranky, crinkly, and Bernie, for example), before six were chosen. The number was rounded to seven with the addition of Doc (because Disney thought it would be funny if there was "a doctor in the house.")

And the rest is history.

Snow White
Home | Production | Naming the Dwarfs
Release and Aftermath | Original Story


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