What does the name "Yukichi" mean?
September 8, 2009 12:14 PM   Subscribe

What is the literal meaning of "Yukichi?" ( 諭吉) It's kitten naming time...

We're thinking of naming our kitten after the baby snow leopard that was born two months ago in Japan, Yukichi. (Our kitten is a blue mackerel tabby, he sort of looks like a snow leopard.)

I tried to find out what the literal meaning of the name is, and I assume it's the diminutive of his mother's name, Yuki - but there's also Fukuzawa Yukichi (福澤 諭吉).

Plus, this translation gave me pause:

"Omae no yukichi ga naiteiru
お前の諭吉が泣いている
Don’t Let Your Money Down / Your money is crying"

So is this an auspicious name for a little 8 week old male kitten? Also, his brother's name is Kipling, so I like the "k" commonality.
posted by HopperFan to Writing & Language (17 answers total)
 
Well, Nihongodict says "10,000 yen note".
posted by RavinDave at 1:29 PM on September 8, 2009


Yuki in Japanese can mean snow, which is why the mother's name is Yuki. The added "ichi" denotes that he's the first son of Yuki. ...or so Wikipedia informs me. It's been too long since I last delved into Japanese culture.
posted by Atreides at 1:57 PM on September 8, 2009


Well, Nihongodict says "10,000 yen note".

That's because Fukuzawa Yukichi is on the 10,000 yen note. That's where the use in the "your money is crying" translation comes from -- slang for the 10,000 yen note, much the way Americans sometimes call the $100 bill a "Benjamin".

The characters in the "Yukichi" part of his name mean something like "Notice of Luck" together (though it's worth noting that there's usually not a super-deep meaning to the choice of kanji for names). It's certainly an auspicious name, if you want to use it.

The snow leopard's name is written in katakana here (ユキチ), which suggests that there's no meaning in particular. That said, one meaning of "yuki" is "snow" (雪), which is probably where his mother got her name, so a neat way to write your cat's name might be 雪吉 (Snow Luck) rather than the way Fukuzawa Yukichi's name is written.
posted by vorfeed at 1:59 PM on September 8, 2009 [4 favorites]


Fascinating stuff @vorfeed.
posted by RavinDave at 2:07 PM on September 8, 2009


Yukichi is a name and has no meaning in and of itself. If you really wanted to translate the characters, the "yuki" character means to rebuke, admonish, warn or persuade, and the "chi" character means good luck, joy or congratulations.

But translating a name like that is sometimes like translating the name "Robert". Well, it has "Rob", so that part means robbing or a robber, and "ert", which can mean Emergency Response Team, so....

Yuki in Japanese can mean snow, which is why the mother's name is Yuki. The added "ichi" denotes that he's the first son of Yuki. ...or so Wikipedia informs me.

Sorry, this is completely wrong. The Yuki character used in Yukichi is not the character for snow and has nothing to do with snow, and there is no added "ichi" - it's "Yuki / chi", you don't get to use the middle "i" twice. Plus the chi character looks nothing like ichi.

Plus, when Japanese name their first sons with a variation of ichi, it doesn't contain the name of the parents a la "Robertson" (son of robert). Ichigo is not the son of Go, and Ichirou is not the son of Rou.
posted by splice at 2:14 PM on September 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


splice is right about the meanings of names being very character specific, and I think the snow leopard was probably named after Fukuzawa Yukichi, but I think also think the mother's name was a factor, since it's a cute play on words (a very Japanese thing to do).

That said, it doesn't sound like you know much Japanese, so I wouldn't get too worried about which specific characters to use. If it were me, I'd probably write it in katakana (ユキチ), if I absolutely had to, (more likely, I'd just write it in romaji/English, especially if I knew I wouldn't be able to read the characters anyway) and I can't imagine your cat is getting a whole lot of correspondence.

I think if you want your cat to share a name with a famous Japanese statesman and a cute snow leopard cub, write it however you want. People will still understand what the cat is called, and he'll be in good company.
posted by Diagonalize at 5:08 PM on September 8, 2009


The kanji you wrote (諭吉) is actually yu-kichi (not yuki-chi), so 雪吉 would end up being yuki-kichi, most of the time (but kanji in names are mysterious and done almost at random). You probably got Fukuzawa's name for the kanji because he's pretty much the most famous Yukichi in Japan.

Animals in Japan are generally more likely to be named with katakana names as Diagonalize said. Japanese people often name people and things for the same reasons they do in the US. They like the sound, there was an internet/telephone poll (more for zoo animals than children), there was some sort of family meaning to the name.

I think it's a cute name for a kitten, so go for it.
posted by that girl at 5:22 PM on September 8, 2009


A very common Japanese pet name is "Jon (John)." .........Yup, Jon.
Go with that if you want to choose a typical Japanese animal name.

As others have said Fukuzawa Yukichi's "Yukichi" doesn't really have a meaning.

I'd just choose the Japanese name you like and enjoy it. Trying to figure out meaning is a lot of times a hopeless cause, just like with names in other languages.

Just avoid "Ben" or "Benji" if you're going for Japanese effect.
posted by vincele at 5:40 PM on September 8, 2009


that girl is correct.

Yukichi (諭吉) in this case has no real meaning; the characters separately mean "to admonish, persuade" and "good luck, joy." Regardless of the characters, Yukichi is a reasonably common male name in Japanese.

The name of snow leopard you're referring to is all in katakana, so there's no meaning whatsoever.

The name has nothing to do with snow ("yuki"), though it's possible that people voted for the name because both the leopard kit and his mother have names in katakana ("ユキチ" and "ユキ", respectively).
posted by armage at 6:59 PM on September 8, 2009


Also, if you want to name your kitten, the most quintessential name for a cat in Japan is "Tama" (タマ). This particular Tama is the most well-known one, I suppose.
posted by armage at 7:00 PM on September 8, 2009


The kanji you wrote (諭吉) is actually yu-kichi (not yuki-chi), so 雪吉 would end up being yuki-kichi, most of the time (but kanji in names are mysterious and done almost at random).

Oops, you're right. My mistake.
posted by vorfeed at 7:55 PM on September 8, 2009


The kanji you wrote (諭吉) is actually yu-kichi (not yuki-chi)

Hah, my bad. I can't tell if I just assumed yuki/chi or went off based on others but it's clearly spelled out in my dictionaries. yu/kichi.
posted by splice at 4:20 AM on September 9, 2009


Splice, vorfeed, you clearly haven't gotten enough おみくじ (paper oracles from various shrines), or else you'd have it ingrained that 吉 is kichi. And, if you were like me, you'd curse your 小吉 acquisition rate!

Japanese is mysterious. As another random note, however, apparently certain numbers of strokes in Kanji names can be auspicious, and I know someone who chose more unusual kanji for a relatively common name to get a more auspicious stroke count.
posted by that girl at 6:57 AM on September 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


To make up for my earlier mistake: if you do want to include "snow" in the cat's name, you could do something like Snow Ground: 雪地. That one really is yuki-chi (and double-checked this time!). 地 is pretty common in boys' names.

I still suggest writing it in katakana, though (ユキチ). For one thing, it'll be easier to write if you're not used to Japanese!
posted by vorfeed at 9:11 AM on September 9, 2009


If you're going name your cat after a famous male Japanese personality, why not name it "Tiger Mask"? More info here.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:47 PM on September 9, 2009


As another random note, however, apparently certain numbers of strokes in Kanji names can be auspicious, and I know someone who chose more unusual kanji for a relatively common name to get a more auspicious stroke count.

Most Japanese parents do this. The stroke count also reflects the birthdate and some other stuff - combining all these sorts of numbers together can be auspicious.

My father-in-law did this (to be precise, he created omikuji to help people get pregnant, pass exams, get a job + name kids) for a living. He made a lot of money.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:51 PM on September 9, 2009


Followup : I named him 'Herr Otto Chumley Von Doppler.'

Long story on how we finally came up with that, but he's around 6 months old now, and it suits him to a T.
posted by HopperFan at 2:33 PM on February 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


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