My Hero Academia: What Does ‘Deku’ Mean?

The origins of Midoriya's nickname

by Rodrigo Sandoval Lahut
Screenshot: Studio Bones

The Hero names chosen by the students of My Hero Academia are as creative as they are inspiring. Each youngster took on a name that would represent the kind of Hero they want to be, while also showcasing their unique personalities.

Related: All My Hero Academia Arcs, in Order

However, there is one name that can be confusing to some. We are talking about the alias that the protagonist chose for himself, Deku. Unlike other titles, this one does not reference Izuku’s Quirk or likes, so newcomers can be sometimes clueless as to what it means. Below, you can find all the information about what Deku means in My Hero Academia.

Beware of spoilers below for My Hero Academia.

The Meaning of Deku in My Hero Academia

Screenshot: Studio Bones

Deku is a Japanese word that means wooden doll or puppet. Throughout the years, the word took on another less positive meaning. When using Deku to refer to a person, it is to imply that they are as useless or powerless as a wooden doll. In My Hero Academia, Bakugo came up with the nickname after noticing that the Kanji used to write Izuku’s name could be misread as Deku.

Related: Who is the Main Character in My Hero Academia?

For many years, this nickname was used to put Midoriya down, as Bakugo would use it to remind him about his lack of a Quirk. Fortunately, this once degrading title was transformed into something positive for Izuku when he met Uraraka. Now, Deku is the name of a Hero who wishes to save everyone with a smile on their face, no matter who they are.

How Did Uraraka Change the Meaning of Deku?

Screenshot: Studio Bones

During the Quirk Apprehension Test that Aizawa made class 1-A partake in, Uraraka began calling Midoriya Deku. When the young man corrected her and told her the meaning of the word, she apologized, stating that she only called him that because Bakugo made her think that was his name. Uraraka then went on to explain that she thought they were calling Midoriya Dekiru.

Related: The Best My Hero Academia Watch Order, Including the Movies

This is a Japanese expression used to motivate someone by telling them that they can do anything. Since Uraraka was one of Izuku’s first real friends, he immediately accepted this new meaning and began seeing the name Deku in a more positive light. When the time for the students to choose their Hero names came, Midoriya went with Deku, claiming that someone special made the once horrible nickname into something that inspired hope.

- This article was updated on November 11th, 2023

About The Author

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Rodrigo is a freelance writer from Mexico who has been an avid anime fan since he was little. He has written about Anime and Manga for 2 years, working with sites like Sportskeeda Anime and Dualshockers.