The curious name Aeris first appeared in the U.S. baby name data in 1998:
- 2000: 26 baby girls named Aeris
- 1999: 22 baby girls named Aeris
- 1998: 23 baby girls named Aeris [debut]
- 1997: unlisted
- 1996: unlisted
Where did it come from?
The role-playing video game Final Fantasy VII, which was released in early 1997 for PlayStation and later for other platforms.
The game was set on a nameless planet whose future was up for grabs. The antagonist, Sephiroth, was out to destroy the planet, whereas the protagonist, Cloud Strife, sought to save the planet from destruction.
Aeris was one of Cloud’s friends. (In fact, he had a bit of a crush on her.) She was the last surviving member of one of the planet’s oldest races, the Cetra, and thereby had access to planet-protecting magical powers.
In a now-infamous plot twist, Aeris was unexpectedly killed by Sephiroth. (Aeris was kneeling and praying, eyes closed, when Sephiroth descended from the sky and ran her through from behind with a sword — all right in front of Cloud.)
And here’s another twist: the character’s English name was never supposed to be “Aeris” — even if it does sound like the word “heiress,” which is fitting, given her racial status.
FFVII was created in Japan, and the character’s Japanese name is Earisu. The official English transliteration of her name is Aerith, based on the English words “air” and “earth.” But, somehow, Aeris is what ended up in the game.
The transliteration was corrected in later Final Fantasy games and in the Kingdom Hearts series (which combined FF characters with Disney characters). In fact, the first Kingdom Hearts game was released in 2002, and official spelling Aerith debuted in the U.S. baby name data the very next year:
- 2007: 11 baby girls named Aerith
- 2006: 10 baby girls named Aerith
- 2005: unlisted
- 2004: unlisted
- 2003: 5 baby girls named Aerith [debut]
- 2002: unlisted
- 2001: unlisted
What are your thoughts on the baby names Aeris and Aerith? I’d especially love to hear the opinions of any gamers out there!