Since its beginning in the mid 1990s, the Pokémon series has become incredibly popular, with fans of all ages and across the world. Starting with video games, it has expanded into television shows, films, a variety of merchandise and much more.
At the heart of the stories are the cute, powerful or simply weird creatures called "Pokémon" (which is short for "pocket monster"). Just like in their original Japanese versions, the English names of these monsters are often clever combinations of words or names.
This time, we'll take a close look at 10 Pokémon to understand how and why they got their unique names. Let's go!
Jigglypuff is a creature that debuted in the very first generation of Pokémon games. In its first form, Jigglypuff is pink with a ball-shaped body and large eyes. "Jiggle" is a verb that means to shake in a light way. Meanwhile, a "puff" can be anything that is soft and round.
When Jigglypuff evolves into its stronger form, it becomes Wigglytuff. This is also a fun play on words; "wiggle" also means to shake. "Tuff," however, is a play on the word "tough," which means "strong."
Part of Exeggcute's name should be easy to understand since it looks like six eggs grouped together. However, this name has one more secret. "Exeggcute" sounds very similar to the verb "execute," which means to do or to perform a task.
When it evolves, Exeggcute becomes Exeggutor, which is similar to the noun "executor." An executor is a person who performs an action or the name for a professional who makes sure a person's property is given to the correct people after they die.
Milotic is a water-type Pokémon that has a shape similar to a snake and is known for its extreme beauty. In fact, its name is likely a reference to Venus de Milo, a famous Greek statue that is believed to be of Aphrodite. Aphrodite is the Greek goddess of love, beauty and prosperity.
"Poltergeist" is another name for a ghost or spirit that can affect the physical world. It is also the title of a famous American horror film from 1982.
When you know this information, you can recognize the pun in Polteageist's name; it is a ghost-type Pokémon that looks like a purple creature inside of a teapot! Polteageist first appeared in the game Pokémon Sword and Shield, released in 2019.
Another Pokémon from the first generation, each of its versions has a name associated with magic and illusions. The first form is called Abra, while its second form is named Kadabra.
The word "abracadabra" was originally taken from the name of a god, so it was used as a magical word that gives power and protects from sickness.
Over time, both abracadabra and "alakazam" became popularly used by magicians when performing a trick. Even in casual conversations, people may use either expression before doing something that they think is amazing or special.
Tentacool is a Pokémon that belongs to both the water and poison categories. It has a mostly blue body with three red crystals on top. It looks similar to jellyfish you can see in the real world.
Jellyfish have arms called "tentacles," which has the same pronunciation as "Tentacool."
"Cool," can mean stylish or appealing, and is used often in casual English conversations. However, it can also mean "unfriendly."
This meaning is connected to Tentacool's second form, which is Tentacruel. "Cruel" is an adjective describing someone who causes harm to others with no care for their feelings.
Koffing is a Pokémon that attacks by releasing poison gas. Therefore, it's no mistake that its name is almost the same as "coughing"!
Koffing's stronger, evolved version is called Weezing. If you add an "H," "wheezing" is breathing with difficulty, usually while making a light whistling sound. It's a great name for Pokémon that pollute the air!
Perrserker is a Pokémon from the steel category. It looks like a gray cat with sharp teeth.
Along with "meow," "purr" is an onomatopoeic word for a sound cats make.
"Berserk" is an adjective for describing people or situations that are crazy or beyond control.
When you put the two together, Perrserker is the perfect name for a crazy cat!
Buzzwole is a bug- and fighting-type Pokémon. It looks like an insect with a very strong and muscular body.
"Buzz" is the English word used to describe the sound of flying insects such as flies, mosquitoes and bees. The second half of its name is a reference to the relatively new English slang word "swole." Swole means "extremely muscular."
Swole developed from the word "swell," which means "to become larger." In other words, someone who exercises regularly will become bigger as their muscles develop.
Remember that swell is a verb, but swole is an adjective.
Mimikyu's true appearance is unknown because it is hiding under a disguise made to look like Pikachu!
This makes sense because its name sounds very similar to "mimic you." "Mimic" is an English verb meaning "to try to look or act like something else." Be sure to look closely so you don't get fooled!
Although we've explained the meanings of these Pokémon names in English, there are still hundreds of other monsters to explore! As we have seen, some names may reference everyday words, while others may include slang or combine pieces of famous names from history or pop culture.
Test your English skill and see if you can discover the hidden meaning in your favorite monsters' names!