A brief post on Pokémon #151, Mew! A reader emailed me asking a simple request to see what I thought about the English and Japanese names, as well as the theories (as listed on Bulbapedia) as to where the name comes from.
In Japanese, the Pokémon is named ミュウ (Myuu, or…Mew). In English, it is the same (Mew). So that gets that out of the way!
The question is why did the Japanese name it Mew? Any reason simply beyond the sound a cat makes?
So, on Mew’s Bulbapedia page:
Either from the Japanese word myou 妙 which means “unusual/strange,” or the English word mutant (ミュウタント myuutanto).
Both of these mixed with the sound a cat makes (meow, or mew for a kitten, I guess!) Interestingly, they did not go with nyaa (the Japanese onomatopoeia for a cat sound) in Japanese.
Myou does mean “unusual/strange,” but can also mean everything from mysterious, exquisite, excellent, delicate, miraculous, or even charming. Note how all these meanings have very different connotations to them in English. I would say beyond “unusual/strange,” Mew definitely fits the “charming/mysterious” aspects! The word itself means strange (generally in a good way), as opposed to hen which is usually unusual (in a bad way).
So Myou + a cat noise could give you ミュウ (Mew), yes.
The alternative is ミュウタント myuutanto. It’s true that it could refer to its general ancestral status in all of this, and the fact it is the only other Pokémon that can learn “Transform” (other than Ditto, and there is a theory they are one in the same…). The advantage to this side is that myuutanto has the exact myuu in it, as the name is spelled, compared to myou which has to be altered slightly.
Of course, there is always a possibility it can be all of the above! That’s the fun things about puns.
I am interested to see what the Japanese side of the net thinks about this. But that may have to be saved for another day! Their Pokemon wikis do not really address name origins from the few I checked, though.
Feel free to list any commentary you may have on Mew’s name too, or more theories beyond the two listed above. I am genuinely curious!
On a side note, in North America, the special Mew distribution begins today until the 24th of February. Go to a Gamestop to pick up a Mew download code that can be used for Pokemon X/Y/Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire! I believe there is an equivalent distribution in the UK and GAME stores, and probably in other places too. Be sure to check!