I’ve always been fascinated with the origins of names in Dragonball. You know, like Bulma and Gohan. They’re not just random words that the creators pulled out of a hat; they actually have meaning! Here are some fun facts about the names of Dragonball characters:
Goku’s name comes from the Japanese word for “gourd” or “melon,” a reference to Goku’s love of juice. The kanji used in his name can also be read as “Shenron.” The original version of Goku’s name was written as ??? (Son Gok?).
Bulma’s name is short for bloomers or knickers in Japanese and is also slang for panties. Bulma is the daughter of Dr. Briefs, who is a scientist and the creator of the Dragon Radar. Bulma first appeared in chapter #14 of Dragon Ball as an ally to Goku on his journey to find all seven dragon balls so they can wish back his dead grandfather. She has a crush on Goku when they first meet but later becomes good friends with him when she realizes he doesn’t feel anything romantic towards her at all.
Vegeta’s name comes from vegetables. Vegeta’s original name in the Japanese version of Dragon Ball was Kakarot, a pun on the word for vegetable in Japanese (nasu), but he was rechristened with a more intimidating moniker for his American debut in 1986’s Dragon Ball Z: Frieza Saga. When you say “vegetable” in English, it sounds like you’re saying “vegita,” which is how Vegeta got his new name–but don’t worry if you still want to use your old one!
Gohan’s name comes from a Chinese word for “millet.” In Japanese, it means “millet” and is pronounced the same as the first syllable in Gohan’s name. The pun on his name means that he has the power of millet (Gohan).
Raditz is short for radish, which is a Japanese word for cabbage. Cabbage is the key ingredient in kimchi, a Korean dish that is popular in Japan.
Nappa is a type of cabbage. Napa is also a Japanese word for the same thing. This makes sense, because Vegeta’s race comes from Planet Vegeta, which was named after its main export: napa cabbage. Nappa is short for napa cabbage
Krillin is short for kuri, which is Japanese for “chestnut.” The name comes from the fact that kuris are a type of chestnut and also because they’re eaten in Japan. There are two types of chestnuts: American and Asian (the latter being what Krillin’s name refers to). In America, we use the word “chestnut” to refer to these tasty nuts (which come from trees called chinquapins). But in other parts of the world like China and Japan, it’s common to refer to them as kuris or Chinese chestnuts instead–and this is where Dragon Ball got its character’s name!
The name Yamcha means yum cha, which is a Chinese tea snack or dim sum. Yamcha is also slang for panties in Japan and Korea. But don’t let the seemingly innocent meaning of his name fool you; Yamcha has killed many people throughout Dragonball Z and Dragonball GT!
If you’re a fan of Dragonball, then this should be an interesting read. You probably already knew some of these facts about the characters, but there are also some surprises in store for you!