Pop Culture Baby Name: Atreyu

Atreyu (Character from The Neverending Story)
Atreyu and his horse, Artax

The fantasy novel Die unendliche Geschichte by Michael Ende was first published in Germany in 1979.

For the English translation of the book, and for the film adaptation that followed, the title was changed to The Neverending Story.

One of the story’s main characters was the warrior Atreyu (originally spelled Atréju) who fought against the Nothing for the survival of Fantasia.

In 1985, a year after the movie came out, the baby name Atreyu appeared on the SSA’s baby name list for the very first time:

  • 1987: unlisted
  • 1986: 5 baby boys named Atreyu
  • 1985: 5 baby boys named Atreyu [debut]
  • 1984: unlisted

The name dropped off the list after 1986, but returned in 1991, and it’s been on ever since.

In fact, it’s doing far better now than ever before:

  • 2013: 117 baby boys named Atreyu [rank: 1,409th]
  • 2012: 122 baby boys named Atreyu [rank: 1,371st]
  • 2011: 125 baby boys named Atreyu [rank: 1,344th]
  • 2010: 130 baby boys named Atreyu [rank: 1,310th]
  • 2009: 103 baby boys named Atreyu [rank: 1,572nd]
  • 2008: 114 baby boys named Atreyu [rank: 1,446th]

Atari, another pop culture-invented baby name, has had a similar trajectory: on the list, off the list, then back again decades later.

I’d say both names have managed to outlive the things that inspired them originally.

Image: Warner Brothers, via IMDB

9 thoughts on “Pop Culture Baby Name: Atreyu

  1. It could also be an echo – those who were toddlers when the movie came out are in the prime zone for having kids now. Plus, there’s the band and a bunch of other pop culture references.

  2. I don’t know, because only the baby’s first names were published. They may have just looked it up on Wikipedia …

    I’ve also seen people using Atreju as a gamer tag or user name on forums as well as on pets – it may be the geek form just as much as the German one!

  3. My son’s name is Atraiyu (A-tray-you) and he’s 3. This is originally a German and an Indo-Aryan name. I recently got to know that there is rock band that goes by the same name. But my son is neither named after that rock band nor after some character. We named him after a Hindu sage who was also a great warrior. It is believed that Hinduism was started by Aryans who had migrated to India from present day regions of Germany or Iran.

  4. @Hana – I haven’t yet been able to figure out how Michael Ende came up with the name Atréju for his book. I’ve seen people online guess that it’s based on Atreus or the Sanskrit name Atreya, but nothing has been proven so far.

    In the book, Ende says the name means “son of all” in Atréju’s (fictional) native langauge. The definition refers to the fact that Atréju was orphaned as a baby and subsequently raised by his village. (Source: Once Upon a Time Baby Names: Atreyu)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.