In the world exists a lot of puzzles based on variations of true-tellers, liars and normals (sometimes lies, sometimes not). There are plenty of names for these characters, for example see the questions (or many others similar around the Internet):

Knights and jokers

Island inhabitants: Who lies and who tells the truth?

Nine togglers, one truth teller, and only a single question

Truths, Lies, and Xors

What is the most correct name for this puzzle and the characters?

What is the most common name for this puzzle and the characters?

What is the most popular name for this puzzle and the characters?

I know, this question demands answers strongly based on opinion, but still I would like to know, what do you think and why.


I believe a lot of scientific/popular literature about this logic puzzles exists, and maybe in this literature is some common/correct name suggested.

Also the first historical appearance of these puzzles could be the clue.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ In Raymond Smullyan’s classic books, they’re called knights, knaves, and normals. At least knights and knaves seem pretty ideal: widespread, unambiguous, and easy to say. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 8:24
  • $\begingroup$ @PeterLeFanuLumsdaine That is funny. I have red this book in different language and translation was more close to "true-tellers, liars and normals". So this is really interesting point for me. You can create an answer. $\endgroup$
    – matousc
    Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 8:29
  • $\begingroup$ Interesting! What language was it, and what were the translations? I’m not sure this is comprehensive enough to be a good answer — I’ll wait to see what other answers are posted, and then possibly post this later if it’s not subsumed by something better first. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 9:01
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    $\begingroup$ Answering the third question in bold.... Just do a Google ngram search to figure. Apart from that, there is no accurate way to determine which is more popular. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 11:09
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The Wikipedia article for this sort of puzzle is titled Knights and Knaves, and cites Smullyan as coining it. $\endgroup$
    – alexwlchan
    Commented Feb 21, 2016 at 17:14

1 Answer 1


There will be no right answer for this question since it is subjective.

The oft-used adjectives are Knights and Knaves for truth-tellers and liars respectively (as Peter LeFanu Lumsdaine and alexwlchan pointed out). Often the normals are described as such - since they are usually not normal per se, but rather do something like lie or tell the truth according to a uniform random variable (are "unpredictables").

I quite like these somewhat archaic English terms soothsayers, mythomaniacs, and quixotics for truth-tellers, liars, and unpredicatables.

We could also try to give them individual names; some with somewhat relevant meanings one could use are as follows (I'm sure there are more).

For the truth-teller:

  • Alethea (Greek: aletheia = truth)
  • Amin (Arabic: amin = truthful)
  • Sati (Sanskrit: sati = truthful)
  • Sidika (Turkish: sidika = truth)
  • Verity (English: verity = truth)

For the liar:

  • Bellona (Latin: bellare = fight)
  • Drake (Old Norse: draki = dragon)
  • Lileth (Akkadian: lilitu = of the night)
  • Mark / Marcus / Martin (Greek: Mars = the god of war)

For the normal / unpredictable

  • Alf / Alfred (Old Norse: Alfr = elf)
  • Caprice (English capricious = unpredictable)
  • Dougal (Gaelic dubh = dark", gall "stranger")
  • Nemo (Latin: nemo = nobody)
  • Peter (Greek: petros = stone)
  • Thomas (Aramaic: a'oma' = twin)

Or how about being a little tongue in cheek and going for something like: Frank (to be frank); Phoebe (fibber) or Lyle (liar); and Norman (normal).


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