What Is the Meaning of Hellboy’s Real Name, Anung Un Rama?

When talking about modern American mainstream comics, one usually doesn’t go much further than DC Comics and Marvel. Still, there are a lot of independent publishers in the United States, and some of them – like Dark Horse Comics – have made quite a name for themselves. This is why Dark Horse Comics is going to be the focus of today’s article, as I am going to talk about Hellboy, Dark Horse Comics’ most famous characters and one of the most popular individual comic book characters in the history of the medium. 

Hellboy’s real name, Anung un Rama, translates to “and upon his brow is set a crown of flame”. As per Hellboy’s creator, the name doesn’t have any actual meaning, nor was it taken from any known language, although there are some vague connections. The name was made up and has no background mythology.

In today’s article, I am going to discuss Hellboy’s real name, which is a topic a lot of people don’t know much about. You are going to find out what the literal translation and how it was conceived, as well as why there isn’t any background mythology behind the name. Enjoy!

What is the meaning of Anung un Rama?

Hellboy is a very specific character. A combination of humor and infernal horror, he is understandably popular among the comic book fandom and his reputation has enabled Dark Horse Comics to keep up – to some extent, at least – with DC Comics and Marvel. 

He was created by Mike Mignola, who first pitched the idea to DC, who actually loved it, but did not want the comic to have anything to do with hell, so Mignola left and found a new published. Hellboy debuted in 1993 and has since appeared in different stories, including a lot of intercompany crossovers. He has also appeared on the big screen on several occasions, most notably when he was played by Ron Perlman (two feature films) and David Harbour (one feature film). 

According to his origin story, he was conceived on October 5, 1617, while his birth-mother, Sarah Hughes, was on her deathbed. Sarah Hughes was a witch and the consort of Azzael, an Archduke of Hell. The child was born in Hell, where it remained for more than three hundred years, when the “Mad Monk” Grigori Rasputin summoned him to Earth in the final months of World War II to help the Nazis. 

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Hellboy didn’t really want to be summoned to Earth to help the Nazis, so he developed an instant hatred for them and would eventually end up fighting them, among his many other enemies. He was nicknamed the “World’s Greatest Paranormal Investigator” during his early appearances. 

Although he is quite popular and well-known, many people don’t know that Hellboy is not Hellboy’s actual name, although it is by far his most popular one. His actual name is Anung un Rama, which translates to “and upon his brow is set a crown of flame”. Hellboy truly does have a levitating crown of flame above his head and it seems that it controls his powers, as on one occasion, when it was removed, he could not be controlled. 

Now, the name itself is not taken from any language, old or new. A direct translation of the name means something along the lines of “From the Abyss(Darkness)/I Am/The Light”. In Ancient Egyptian, the word “anun” meant “abyss”, while “anung” meant “of the abyss”. The word “darkness” can be interchanged with “abyss” in this context. Un could be a derivation from the Latin word for “self” or “of”. Finally, “Rama” is also taken from Egyptian and was one of the names of the God of Sun and Bringer of Fire. The connections seem quite obvious, but there is a catch. 

Namely, during the 2010 Dragon*con, Mike Mignola was asked about the name and he said that the name had no actual meaning, besides the one assigned to it in the comic books, and that it was completely made up. So, there you have it; while we were able to trace the origins of some of the words (to a degree, at least), the meaning doesn’t really have any meaning as per its creator, Mike Mignola. 

Credit Dark Horse Comics

What is the mythology behind Anung un Rama?

As stated, Mike Mignola confirmed that Anung un Rama has absolutely no meaning whatsoever. It is a made-up name and has no associated story behind it. What does this mean about the mythology behind the name?

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Well, nothing, really. The fact that Anung un Rama is a made-up name means that there is no mythology behind it. There aren’t any important stories to tell, characters to mention – nothing. It is just a made-up name that has no mythological background and it should be taken as such. 

Yes, yes, I was equally disappointed by the revelation, but there is nothing one can do about it. 

What does exist is an in-universe prophecy called Anung Un Rama, Urush Un Rama, which is translated as “Destroyer of Worlds, Creator of Worlds”. This does mention Hellboy’s name and it even gives its meaning a completely new sense, but due to the fact that the prophecy is, even in-universe, considered to be too enigmatic and possibly even fake, we cannot give it much thought here in this article. 

The prophecy states that Hellboy is destined to use the Right Hand of Doom to unleash Ogdru Jahad from the Outerverse back into Creation, thereby destroying the current world order. It hasn’t happened so far and it is quite possible that it is just a fake prophecy, so don’t get your hopes up. 

Still, this doesn’t give any actual mythological significance to Hellboy’s real name and it is only an in-universe explanation for his powers and his supposed role in the comic books themselves. Whether the prophecy is false or not remains to be seen but until then, I cannot really give you anything else. No one can. 

What does Urush un Rama mean?

Urush un Rama seems to be another name for Hellboy, present in the above-mentioned enigmatic prophecy. The name itself seems to mean “Creator of Worlds”, but since it’s only used there and is quite rarely used to actually refer to Hellboy, we don’t know whether Mignola assigned some deeper meaning to it. 

For now, we know that it is a reference to the prophecy, that is it similar to his true name and that it might or might not have a role to play in some future Hellboy story that has yet to be written. 

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Who gave Hellboy the name Anung un Rama?

Hellboy’s mother was named Sarah Hughes, as we have already established. Now, it does seem strange that a human called Sarah Hughes would give her own son, despite his nature and looks, the name Anung un Rama, especially since his conception happened back in the 17th century. It doesn’t seem quite plausible that a 17th-century woman, despite being a witch, would come up with such a name, right?

And she did not. Namely, Sarah Hughes wasn’t the one that gave Hellboy his real name, Anung un Rama. It was actually his father, Azzael, the Archduke of Hell and I shall now explain how exactly that happened. 

While on her deathbed, Sarah Hughes revoked her witch powers and tried to find peace in death in a sanctuary. Azzael, who had impregnated her earlier, kidnapped her body and brought it down to Hell with him. The kidnapping happened in a church in England. 

Once there, Azzael forced Sarah Hughes to bear the child in Hell, ultimately forcing her to give birth to his heir. Not okay, but that’s not even slightly disturbing compared with what’s coming up next. Namely, in order for his son to be born, Azzael decided to completely burn away Sarah’s body, leaving only the hellspawn that was inside her. Thus, Hellboy was born and his most famous name has thus also become a description of his genesis, as he truly was a boy of (or from, whichever you prefer) Hell. 

Not long after his birth, his demonic father, Azzael, decided to name him Anung un Rama, which is a pretty menacing and apocalyptic name. I have already explained its meaning and its connection to the enigmatic prophecy, so you know why Azzael opted for such a name. In-universe, it makes some sense, but it’s more of a depressing story than anything else if you ask me. 

Still, that is the story of how Hellboy got his real name and who gave it to him, and with that, I will finish this article. Until next time!