(Previous readers may also notice that I've been playing around with templates, let me know what you think.)
Just as the imagery of 40K contains some of the same elements over and over again - skulls, wings, lots of black and red - the language of 40K uses the same elements over and over again too.
Through a very unscientific and limited survey, I've gathered together some of the more common words used to describe 40K armies and their units. I went through the GW online store, picking out the words that popped out most often. I discarded those things that were neutral or merely descriptive, like tactical, squad, or brood in favor of IMO more evocative ones. I then went through the names of the original Space Marine legions, perhaps the most iconic groups and names in the background and added them to the mix. I didn't go into successor chapters that weren't in the store as it would be a bit much - so Black Templars gets counted but Silver Skulls don't. If you went through using all the mentioned SM chapters you'd probably see some things like Angel become much more common. I didn't use race-specific names like Eldar or things like Marine or Chaos but would pick out Dark from both Dark Eldar and Dark Reapers. Where something repeated from the army level to the specific level, I would only count it once - so one point for Blood for the Blood Angels, but no extra points for every unit that also has "Blood Angel X" as the name.
I may have missed a few things, but I think it's a good starting point. If you're looking for some suggestions for names that would fit in well with the 40K jargon, or if you're trying to avoid common names and themes, this might be useful for you.
Guard comes out on top, with Imperial Guard, Death Guard (perhaps the most "40K" of all the army names), Wraith Guard, Tyrant Guard and so on helping it claim #1.
Closely behind we find War/Warrior. Warlords, War Walkers, various types of Warriors. Not even counting weapons like Warscythes.
In the next tier comes Lord, Legion, and Death/Deff.
In the honorable mention category are a number of others - Blood, Wraith, Storm, Fire, Dark, Iron, Wing, Space, and Priest. Then Sanguinary, Angel(s), Raider, Beast, Imperial, Spider/Spyder, Damned, Black and Grey.
So if you're ever stuck for a name, fall back on the 40K standbys and bring the Wraith Legion or Storm Guard to life!
So the 41st Millenium isn't "grimdark" - it's really "warguard"!
(Part 2 now available.)
(Part 2 now available.)