What does Deku mean ?
Being a fan of anime, there are many characters that come and go and with our linguistic limitations we don’t always seem to have an idea of what specific names or words stand for or what they represent, this occurs with everyone from time to time, whether you watch foreign films or foreign shows, it’s bound to be an occurrence in your head. Currently while watching a favorite Anime, many people have come to find themselves wondering about one specific word/name; Deku.
What does Deku mean ?
Many people wonder this question every once in a while, especially if you’re a fan of Boku No Hero Academia (My Hero Academia), you will instantly begin to wonder what the name stands for.
- What does Deku mean in Japanese ?
- What does Deku mean in English ?
- What is the definition of Deku ?
These are questions that have been tormenting a lot of fans of Boku No Hero Academia (My Hero Academia) and that is a question that today we choose to answer for all of those fans ! Is Deku just a name without a meaning ? Or does the word Deku have a much deeper meaning when put to investigation? Let’s find out !
Who is Deku ?
Deku is many things, the easiest definition of Deku that you can find as soon as you do a simple Google search or open up a Japanese dictionary and take a peek into it, you will find that Deku means “puppet”, there is also a very popular species or race of woodland creatures in Legend of Zelda that is rightly named Deku. The height of popularity for the word Deku however, is actually being a nickname to the main protagonist of Boku No Hero Academia (My Hero Academia) known as Izuku Midoriya.
Izuku Midoriya, who’s also known as Deku, is called that because of his relationship with Bakugo. Bakugo being the bully and also Izuku's friend since both of theirs’ childhood, Bakugo’s sudden shift in personality after getting his extremely powerful quirk renders him feeling too much pride and he channels that pride into putting others below him.
One day Bakugo is reading Izuku’s name, he tells Izuku that his name can also be pronounced as Deku, and the name just sticks, it is first taken as an insult by him but afterwards Izuku grows to care for it and becomes more and more interested in keeping the name as his relationship with Bakugo becomes more and more toxic, to the point Bakugo ends up resenting Izuku as Izuku begins to become a stronger hero than ever before
What does Deku mean in Japanese ?
Izuku is spelled as 出久 in Japanese, 出 stands for Izu and 久 stands for Ku.
But when looking at in Japanese Kanji, 出 can also stand for De, which just makes Izuku and Deku the same word.
This is what Bakugo points out to when he initially calls Izuku as “Deku”. The author of the manga has a uniquely funny way of hinting at comedic things, his artistic vision and comedy works in tandem to create a narrative that is stitched together with a funny background and quirky things in the overall art design of his work, for readers to notice small details pop up from time to time as they begin to read through the manga or watch through the show.
An example of this is Deku’s T-shirt which simply has the text “t-shirt” written on it, that shirt ended up gaining a lot of popularity and became premium merchandise content for the fans of both the manga and the show to rock to their favorite manga conventions or just their normal lives. The show runners carried almost all of this to the show and created a very honest retelling of the manga in-keeping with the author’s original vision, including the infamous t-shirt.
So what does the name Deku mean ?
Deku as mentioned before, means Puppet in Japanese, this meaning stems from their origins in ancient Japan, where dolls that were also known as Kugutsu were made out of wood and were essentially puppets that were controlled through strings. These ended up becoming quite popular, however in modern Japan, Deku is something quite different. Deku meaning in Japan stands for “A person without the disposition to be useful.”
Why use this as an insult you ask ? It’s the Japanese equivalent of calling someone a dummy or dumb but it being used in Boku No Hero Academia, as a nickname for Izuku whose name actually can be pronounced as Deku doesn’t seem like a random occurrence. It was indeed well thought out by the creator of My Hero Academia to name the character Izuku and in turn doing so naming him Deku, this is because Izuku originally in the show has no powers. If you look at a traditional Deku doll, you will see that they have no arms or legs, essentially being limbless, they are quite useless as a whole and do not offer much functionality.
Deku Japanese Traditional Doll
Thereby, in the world of My Hero Academia, where everyone has a quirk, Izuku being born without one, makes Deku an opt name for him as an insult. Bakugo names him Deku because in his view, Izuku is useless or has no ability to protect his own self because he is without a quirk, but Ururaka helps him see that the name doesn’t have to just mean that, she explains a different side of the coin to him.
She says that :
“But Deku gives off a feeling of “I can do it.” I like the nickname.”
You would be thinking, Deku means someone that can’t do anything, right ? No, because the Japanese meaning of Deku can also stand to be an abbreviation of the word Dekiru, which is a Japanese verb used to express the ability to be able to do something. So she flips the entire concept around for him, shifting his entire perspective of the nickname Deku from something so negative to something super positive. After learning this meaning of Deku in Japanese, he manages to channel this energy and turn his focus around, he focuses on becoming stronger and better and defeating every single enemy that he is eventually put against.
What does Deku mean in English ?
Deku is not an English word, therefore Deku meaning in English has no proper definition, the only definition of this word that we can find is from the Japanese meaning of Deku, so as explained thoroughly in the Japanese meaning section, Deku can stand for multiple things, such as a puppet, a derogatory term used to insult people by calling them useless and the My Hero Academia version of this, the meaning that Deku stands for someone who has the ability to do anything that they set out to do !
Though we do believe with the amount of popularity that the show has garnered, the word Deku is going to become a staple word in most households and probably be used to either insult someone (which is probably a most likely scenario) or be used for the optimistic purposes as mentioned above.
What is the definition of Deku ?
So simply put, the meaning of Deku is a useless dummy which is an insult; this was used as an insult by Bakugo to degrade Izuku on his lack of powers as a kid but Ururaka made him realize that it can also mean someone who “can do” anything he wants to do.
The definition of Deku are many, a wooden doll from ancient Japanese culture, a derogatory insult used to bully people by calling them insufficient and incapable of doing things, or it can mean the exact opposite of that insult and can be an abbreviation of the term Dekiru, meaning the ability to be ABLE to do things.
The realization that Izuku has after knowing this meaning of the word, makes him think about the word in a completely different perspective, making him like the word instead of resent it, as it stands for something entirely different than what he always thought it did.
So all in all, what does Deku mean ?
Well it depends on the context of what you’re using it for, but our optimistic approach suggests us that Deku means someone who can do anything that they set their mind to and as Izuku becomes a prime example of this meaning, he becomes the strongest hero in his academy and making All Might extremely proud of his decision to take Izuku as his prime pupil.
The YouTube channel "Mippon" made a video about this subject, make sure to have a look at it.