“Deku” Meaning in Japanese ~ My Hero Academia

May 19, 2021 | Blogs, Japanese Learning

Deku (Izuku Midoriya) from My Hero Academia is one of the most popular characters in the recent anime community. Some of you may wonder what Deku means and why he is called “Deku” although his real name is Izuku Midoriya? In this article, we’re going to learn the meaning of Deku, and why he is called Deku by going through a few scenes from the anime series.

What does “Deku” mean?

The word “Deku” is a Japanese insult word meaning “useless person” or “good for nothing.” This word is kind of old and rude, so not commonly used in modern real-life conversation, but the word “Deku” is still often used in Anime, Drama, Novels, or any other content.

でく(Deku) is a short word for でくのぼう (Dekunobou) which originally means a puppet made of wood

“Deku” in Japanese Hand Writing & Meaning in Japanese

Deku: でく or  デク
Dekunobou: でくのぼう (Kanji: 木偶でくぼう)


1) doll, puppet, wood puppet
2) useless person, clumsy person

<Meaning in Japanese>

1) 人形にんぎょう。あやつり人形にんぎょう。でく。
2) やくたないひとのきかないひとひとのいいなりになっているひと。また、そのようなひとをののしっていう。「この木偶でくぼうめ」

Why is he called Deku?

1. A pun

Let’s play with his name a little.

Last Name – 緑谷みどりや (Midoriya)
First Name – 出久いずく (Izuku)

His first name “Izuku” is made of two Kanji characters.

出:いず (Izu)  久:く (ku)

Japanese Kanji have multiple ways to read.
The first character of his name can also be read “ (De)”

出:いず / (Izu / De)  久: (ku)

So “Deku” is just an another way to pronounce his name

2. Bakugo started calling him Deku

My Hero Academia – S1:E7 “デクvsかっちゃん” (“Deku Vs. Kacchan”)

出久、おめえ 本当に何もできねえな”
(Izuku, you really can’t do anything, huh? )

(The name “Izuku” can also be read “Deku.”)

(And “Deku” means, “a person who can’t do anything.”)

– 爆豪勝己 (Katsuki Bakugou)

[English Subtitle From Netflix Japan]

There are few factors that made Bakugou say these lines. First, Bakugou was capable of anything among the people around him. He had a great quirk and confidence. On the other hand, Midoriya was incapable, quirk-less, and unconfident. So it was a natural thing to occur that Bakugou making fun of Midoriya. Bakugou was smart and intelligent to know the meaning of the word “Deku” which is not the common word that most children know.

So, in Bakugou’s case, he started calling him “Deku” as an insult based on those facts.

3. Uraraka thinks the name “Deku” is cool

My Hero Academia – S1:E6 “猛れクソナード” (“Rage, You Damned Nerd”)

“でも”デク“って”頑張れ!”って感じで 何か好きだ 私”
(But Deku sounds like “you can do it,” so I like that name.)

– 麗日お茶子 (Ochako Uraraka)

“今の僕は… 頑張れって感じのデクだ!”
(I am the “you can do it” kind of Deku!)

– 緑谷出久 (Izuku Midoriya)

[English Subtitle From Netflix Japan]

“Can” in Japanese is 出来る (Dekiru)

You see the word 出 in here too

And here is another coincidence, the second word “来” can also be pronounced “Ku” as well. 

来る (De-ki-ru)         : き / (ki / ku)

出来: デク (Deku)

That’s why she said that line. It changed the meaning of Deku for Izuku.

My Hero Academia – S2:E26 “名前をつけてみようの会” (“Time to Pick Some Names”)

“この呼び名 今まで好きじゃなかった。けど、ある人に意味を変えられて… 僕には結構な衝撃で… うれしかったんだ”
(I never liked this name, until now. But someone changed the meaning of this name, and that had a big impact on me, and it made me happy.)

– 緑谷出久 (Izuku Midoriya)

[English Subtitle From Netflix Japan]


Deku (でく) is a short word for Dekunobou (でくのぼう) which originally means a puppet made of wood, nowadays it is an insult meaning “useless person” or “good for nothing.”

I hope you find this article helpful! Now you know what Deku means! Even though you may not use or hear this word in real-life Japanese conversation, you will see this word often in Anime, Drama, Novels, or other content. So it is definitely good to know!

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Other Links (Japanese Learning Materials)

[Basic Japanese]

[Fun Japanese]