Where did the baby name Atreyu come from in 1985?

The character Atreyu (in conversation with Falkor the luckdragon) in the movie "The NeverEnding Story" (1984).
Atreyu from “The NeverEnding Story

The intriguing name Atreyu first appeared in the U.S. baby name data in 1985:

  • 1987: unlisted
  • 1986: 5 baby boys named Atreyu
  • 1985: 5 baby boys named Atreyu [debut]
  • 1984: unlisted
  • 1983: unlisted


Because of the fantasy movie The NeverEnding Story, which was released in the U.S. in mid-1984.

One of the story’s main characters was the young warrior Atreyu (played by Noah Hathaway), who was on a quest to cure the Childlike Empress of her sickness and thereby save the kingdom of Fantasia from being overtaken by the growing, malevolent darkness known as “The Nothing.”

The movie was ultimately based on the German fantasy novel Die unendliche Geschichte (1979) by Michael Ende, and the character’s name was originally spelled Atréju.

I don’t know how Ende coined the name, but he did create a definition for it. After being given a protective amulet by an emissary of the Childlike Empress, Atreyu was instructed to say goodbye to his parents and start on his quest. This is how he responded:

‘I have none,’ said Atreyu. ‘My parents were both killed by a buffalo, soon after I was born.’

‘Who brought you up?’

‘All the men and women together. That’s why they called me Atreyu, which in our language means “Son of All”!’

The name Atreyu dropped out of the U.S. baby name data in 1987…but it re-emerged in 1991, the year after the film’s 1990 sequel came out.

After seeing a steep rise in usage in 2005/2006, the name Atreyu is now more popular than ever:

Graph of the usage of the baby name Atreyu in the U.S. since 1880.
Usage of the baby name Atreyu

What are your thoughts on the name Atreyu?


Image: Screenshot of The NeverEnding Story

7 thoughts on “Where did the baby name Atreyu come from in 1985?

  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.

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