A thought about the very common boy's name Tarou

I know Tarou is a very common name in Japan after looking at the Kanji for it, I can’t imagine naming my child that.

*** 太郎 ***

Yup look at it. Right there in all it’s glory.

太 = fat
郎 = guy

Man, that would have been a rough name to live with in my school.


If you only think about the one English gloss, I guess. Which Japanese people wouldn’t do.

It basically means “strong son” as a name.

EDIT: Asked my girlfriend. She said she’s never thought of 太る with regard to 太郎. She just said it’d be a really lame name nowadays, really old-fashioned.


What I don’t get is names like 一郎 and so forth. You honestly couldn’t think of anything better to call your son than “kid number one”?


I asked my Japanese teacher about this a few weeks ago. Like @Leebo said, translating 太 as “fat” just doesn’t occur to most Japanese people in this case. They usually give it a very positive connotation. For example, 太子 (crown prince) is a title of respect – in that word, I don’t think a Japanese person would even think of equating the first kanji with physical weight.

It’s still weird to my western mind though.


Next time I bump into Prince Charles, I’m gonna call him fatboi and see what he thinks.


Maybe “phatboi” is a more accurate translation?


From the Germanic name Karl , which was derived from a Germanic word meaning “man”. However, an alternative theory states that it is derived from the common Germanic name element hari meaning “army, warrior”.

The same with our names. It’s just that we don’t use Kanji and so the meaning isn’t as obvious.



Every single time I told a Japanese my name (Pedro) means stone, they had a moment 「石?」making a face of “who the heck would name someone stone?”.

But then you say it’s like solid of character, しっかりしている and 揺れない and they get it.


Yea but it’s humorous to me. It would probably be classified as a lame 親父ギャグ similar to how we would look at someone if they asked a guy named Johnson if his father’s name was John.

You definitely should.


Since we’re talking about the name Tarou here, I think it’d be fun to mention the cute, little coincidence that if you look at the kanji for “name,” 名, and you read it downwards while thinking of the radicals as katakana, it reads タロ, almost like the really well-known boy’s name.
I know it wasn’t intentional or anything, since katakana came out of the kanji and not the other way around, but I still find it neat. Plus, it makes a good mnemonic.


On a related note, I’ve always been amused that くのいち, the word for a female ninja, comes from reading the strokes of 女 in order. Which is to say, くノ一


Oh, I love that!

I also really appreciated learning that the name of the repeater,々, is ノマ; it just makes so much sense.

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The name originates from Japan’s pre-industrial past. In those days, infant mortality was quite high. Anytime a baby is born, what is one of the strongest signs that the baby won’t live long? Being underweight. What’s a good sign that a child is strong and will live to adulthood? Being born fat. That’s the point of the name Taro. It either describes the nature of the child at birth, a fat baby born strong with a high likelihood of living to adulthood, or one’s hopes for the child, those being that they will become a big and strong child in the future.


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