Kirby name origin: tracing the origins of our pink hero - Gamestate

Kirby name origin: tracing the origins of our pink hero

Nintendo's Kirby is one of the most iconic characters in video game history. He is known for his cute and cuddly appearance, insatiable appetite, and ability to inhale his enemies and copy their abilities.

But, did you know Kirby was not always called Kirby? During the early stages of development, the character was called "Popopo." 

If you wonder how they went from Popopo, to Kirby, keep reading. We did some digging and uncovered a fascinating history behind it.  You might be surprised to know that Kirby has a connection to the De Kirkeby family. 

And there’s a lot more to Kirby’s name than you might have thought. 

In this article, we'll take a deep dive into the origins of our pink and puffy hero’s name and its interesting associations.

The Kirby name origin 

The Kirby name origin is of Anglo-Saxon origin, derived from the Old Norse "kirkja," meaning "church," and "byr," meaning "settlement" or "village." 

However, the origins of Nintendo's Kirby name are slightly different. 

The creator of Kirby, Masahiro Sakurai, named the character after John Kirby, a prominent attorney who defended Nintendo in a lawsuit filed by Universal Studios over the Donkey Kong game.

De Kirkeby: The Kirby family connection

While the Nintendo Kirby name is not directly related to the Kirby family, there is still an interesting connection between the two. 

The Kirby name origin comes from the village of Kirby Hill in Yorkshire, England, which was granted to a Norman noble named Hugh de Montfort. Hugh de Montfort changed his name to Hugh de Kirkeby, and thus the name De Kirkeby (or De Kirkby) was born.

The Kirby family of Wakefield, Yorkshire, who were known for their wealth and influence during the 16th and 17th centuries, may have been descendants of Hugh de Kirkeby. While there is no direct evidence linking the Nintendo Kirby to the Kirby family, it is interesting to note that the Kirby family crest features a stag, a prominent symbol in the Kirby video game series.

The John Kirby connection

As mentioned earlier, Kirby's name originates from Nintendo's legal counsel, John Kirby of Latham & Watkins LLP. 

John Kirby is well-known for defending Nintendo against a copyright infringement lawsuit filed by Universal Studios over the similarities between Donkey Kong and King Kong. During the case, John Kirby became a hero to Nintendo, and his name became associated with the company in a positive light.

According to some reports, John Kirby's family received a special pre-release copy of Kirby's Dream Land as a gift from Nintendo of America in 1992, proving that the company had a connection between the two in mind from the earliest stages of the character's creation. While there is no direct evidence that Kirby was named after John Kirby, the connection between the two seems more than coincidental.

Kirby's cultural impact

Kirby has become more than just a video game character; he has also become a cultural icon. His popularity has extended beyond gaming and into other areas, such as merchandise, music, and food.

Kirby's cute and cuddly appearance has made him a favorite among children and adults alike, and his merchandise has become a popular choice for fans. Kirby merchandise can be found in stores and worldwide, from plush toys to clothing to phone cases.

Kirby has also inspired musicians and artists, with many creating their tributes to the character. There are countless remixes of Kirby's music on YouTube, and fan art of Kirby can be found on various social media platforms.

Kirby has even made an impact in the food industry. In Japan, a Kirby-themed cafe serves food and drinks inspired by the character. There are Kirby-shaped pancakes, Kirby curry, and even a Kirby latte art.

Kirby's future

Kirby has left an indelible mark on the gaming world since his debut in 1992, and his influence extends far beyond the video game industry. With his adorable appearance and lovable personality, Kirby has captured the hearts of fans of all ages and inspired countless tributes and merchandise.

As Nintendo develops new games, fans can look forward to even more exciting adventures with their favorite pink hero. Kirby has proven versatile, adapting to different gameplay styles and genres.

As the gaming industry and its fans change and grow, Kirby will likely continue to evolve and adapt to meet new challenges. Whatever the future holds, it's clear that Kirby's impact on video games and popular culture will continue to endure for many years.

We hope you enjoyed learning about the Kirby name origin and its connection to the Kirby family and John Kirby. We'd love to hear your thoughts on this article.

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