For today’s episode of “Disney fanatics reading too far into things,” we decided to conduct a super serious investigation into the meanings of Disney characters’ names. And we mean SUPER serious: after several hours of warm-up stretches, brainstorming increasingly weird detective names, acquiring magnifying glasses, looking at everything in the office under magnifying glasses, yelling at each other to FOCUS, and then fighting over who got to wear the trench coat… we calmly sat down at our computers and did some research.
We now present said research, helpfully broken down by category.
Disney Character Names That Mean Stuff in Other Languages
Belle, Beauty and the Beast
Belle’s parents named her the French word for “beautiful,” probably because there’s not a French word for “a beauty but a funny girl” and so they had to go with the next closest thing.
Pretty Much Everyone in The Lion King
You can barely take two steps in this movie without tripping over a Swahili name, and that Swahili name is probably super literal. Simba means “lion,” Rafiki means “friend,” Pumbaa means “foolish,” Nala means “gift,” Mufasa means “king,” and Sarabi means “mirage” (that one is slightly more enigmatic, but we stand by our point).
Disney Character Name Meanings That Make a Lot of Sense
Her name means “gracious” and “merciful,” and Anna is certainly both of those things when Elsa ice punches her in the heart (by mistake).
Research indicates that Cinderella means “obvious nickname for one who is named Ella and often covered in cinders.”
Hercules and Megara
Hercules = “glorious gift,” while Megara means “pearl,” and those are probably words we’d use to describe these two.
Will Turner, Pirates of the Caribbean
William means “determined protector,” and he certainly is when it comes to Elizabeth. Turner means “carpenter,” which is kind of close to “blacksmith,” which is what he is, so whatever, we’re going with it.
Eric, The Little Mermaid
Our favorite dreamy seafaring prince’s name means “always ruler,” and we don’t have any evidence to indicate he was ever NOT the ruler, so there you have it.
Rapunzel and Flynn, Tangled
“Rapunzel” is the name of a light purple flower, which is cool, because light purple is kind of her thing, and also the whole magic flower plot point. Flynn’s real name Eugene means “good,” which we’re interpreting as proof that he was predestined to be a great guy even if he experimented with being an outlaw along the way.
Phillip, Sleeping Beauty
Phillip means “lover of horses,” and that’s definitely the face of a guy who loves his horse.
Disney Character Name Meanings That Are Directly Referenced in Their Movies
Aurora, Sleeping Beauty
“A daughter was born, and they called her Aurora. Yes, they named her after the dawn, for she filled their lives with sunshine.” (They could have just called her Dawn… but we suppose it doesn’t have the same ring.)
Quasimodo, The Hunchback of Notre Dame
“And Frollo gave the child a cruel name, a name that means ‘half-formed’: Quasimodo.” Clearly, naming him “Fullymodo” would have been the decent thing to do.
Disney Character Name Meanings That Blew Our Minds and Now Nothing Will Ever Be the Same
Carl and Ellie, UP
Carl means “man,” which is true and also not that exciting… but Ellie means “shining light,” which is poetic and perfect for her and the way she lights up Carl’s life.
Mulan means “wood orchid,” as in, “The flower [of a wood orchid] that blooms in adversity is the rarest and most beautiful of all.”
Anastasia and Drizella, Cinderella
So Drizella means “spirited and cruel,” which is totally appropriate: just look at her. But here’s where things get crazy: Anastasia means “reborn,” and as everyone obviously knows, she redeems herself and becomes totally nice in Cinderella II: Dreams Come True. Also, Tremaine means “from the big town,” and has there ever been a better last name for the bougiest family around?
Do you know of a cool Disney character name meaning that we didn’t include here? Put it in the comments!