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16 Common Pokemon Name Meanings from Generation 1

Updated October 11, 2019 9.9k votes 1.8k voters 1.0m views16 items

If you've been playing Pokemon since Red and Blue came out, you probably know all the first generation Pokemon by heart. However, there are some really interesting origins behind Pokemon names, and with Pokemon Go introducing a whole new group of fans to the Pokedex, why not take an in-depth look at some common Pokemon names. From Pikachu to Lapras, these Pokemon names all originate from some kind of play on words.

You might roll your eyes at a few of these because they're too easy, but there are a lot of new Pokemon fans who might not know this stuff! Vote up the Pokemon name origins you found most interesting, especially if you learned something new.

  • Photo: Pokemon

    Gengar's name has several meanings, depending on how you look at it. You can assume Gengar is a play on the word doppleganger, which is appropriate for a Pokemon that pretends to be people's shadows. 

    The kanji 幻 maboroshi can alternatively be read as gen, and is used in the words phantom and illusion.

    Finally, there is a Danish word genganger, a term used to describe ghosts found in Scandinavian folklore. Who knew this wacky ghost Pokemon was so deep?

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    The pika is an actual rodent that exists in real life, but Pikachu's name is more based on wordplay than it is an homage to the pika. Pikapika is the Japanese onomatopoeia for "sparkle," and chūchū in Japanese represents a squeaking sound. So Pikachu is a squeaky, sparkly mouse. Makes sense!

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    Lapras is a variation of the word Laplace, which holds several meanings for the Pokemon. Pierre-Simon Laplace was a famous mathematician who studied the sea and the tides, which makes sense given that Lapras is a water Pokemon.

    Additionally, la place is French for seat, which makes a lot of sense given that Lapras is one of the only water Pokemon that actually makes sense to ride (and Ash in fact does so in the intro to the cartoon).

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    Photo: Pokemon

    Given that this was the only Pokemon with a male and female version when Red and Blue came out, Nidoran confused a lot of kids in the late '90s. The name is partly based on the Japanese words ni (two) and nido (two times, two degrees) referring to the two versions of the Pokemon that exist.

    The Japanese word ran also translates to orchid, a flower that can be purple or blue (the same colors of the male and female versions of Nidoran, respectively).

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