A lot of the nomenclature depends on the whimsy of the person(s) who systematized the art, of course. It also depends on the general philosophy of the art. Karate-do tends to use very utilitarian naming conventions, being descriptive of the mechanics. Haiwan-hineri-uke is simply "twisting forearm defense", for example, and it comes mostly from the desire of Funakoshi and his contemporaries to make the systems open to be accepted by the Japanese. Same thing happened in judo with Jigoro Kano.
There are however exceptions that I think derive from the old, Chinese origins, from simple things like the standard punch being called a seiken-tuski, or spear-fist, and a certain lapel-grabbing throw being named after that part of a priest's robe. Others come from the Bushido spirit of seeking to meld the poetic with the practical when referring to inspiration/description; thus the kenjutsu "flowing water cut" and "red leaves cut" in Miyamoto Musashi's GO RI NO SHO.
Of course, there are more recent innovations crediting important personages. The gyaku-ude-garami armlock is commonly known in jujutsu circles as the "kimura" after famous Japanese fighter Masahiko Kimura.