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Disney Princess Guide Article

The Origin and Meaning of the Disney Princess Names

Guide by alafastanzio posted over a year ago
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Snow White ___________________________

In the beginning of the Grimm's Tale Schneewittchen, Snow White's mother pricks her finger with a sewing needle and three drops of her blood fall onto the snow which lay on the ebony windowsill. Oddly enough, this made her long for a daughter of a similar color scheme. While this reflects the arc of the story: (white)innocence, (red)maturity & love, and (black)death, her name particularly represents a season when the world metaphorically sleeps only to be inevitably awakened with the coming of spring.





_______________________________ Cinderella

Omitted from the Disney version of the fairytale, Cinderella was actually the cruel nickname given to her by her stepsisters for sitting at the dying cinders of the fire after her long days work. Cinderella's real name is never mentioned. Cinders have a number of symbolic meanings from being merely a source of warmth and a hidden fire to represent rebirth in the story of the Firebird or Phoenix. In myth, the creature would die in the fiery blaze of its nest only to rise again reborn from the ashes signifying a rise to glory from the lowest of places.





Aurora ________________________________

Latin for "light" or "dawn", Aurora is her royal name given by her parents. It may be stated in the film that this was "because she filled their lives with sunshine" but its also fitting for this princess since dawn is the time when the sleeping world awakes. It's no accident that she falls asleep at dusk and awakes upon sunrise. Incidentally one may recall her "hair of sunshine gold" but her "lips that shame the red red rose" are more linked to her second name.



Briar Rose ________________________________

Briar Rose, a pseudonymn given by her fairy godmothers also has poetic meaning. The first word BRIAR, a mass of thorny plants obviously makes sense with the story's motif but a rose also has numerous conotations. Roses have represented love, beauty, virtue, femininity, and virginity hence why it is also a symbol of the Virgin Mary. But a briar rose is a thing of beauty surrounded by harsh thorny bramble -- much like Aurora herself in the castle surrounded by the forest of thorns.





__________________________________ Ariel

Ariel's name probably has the most mysterious of origins but there are two possible sources that equally make sense. Song writers Alan Menken and Howard Ashman (both of Jewish heritage) had a surprising amount of creative input in the story having named several of Ariel's sisters. This could leave reason to suspect they may have also suggested the name Ariel, Hebrew for "Lion of God". Lions are well known symbols of strength and courage.




The second possibility which actually ties into the first is the connection to the word 'ARIA'. Hebrew for "lioness". However in Italian it means "air" and is a musical term for a solo vocal piece with a light instrumental accompaniment. This probably makes the most sense considering music, and not lions, is the most obvious if not significant factor in Ariel's story.









Belle ________________________________

The most straight forward of names, Belle is literally French for "beauty". Granted this makes sense since Belle's character is meant be physically attractive. However beauty is not just restricted to our visual sense but can encompass all the senses and even that of our spirit. Intended to contrast the physical ugliness of the beast, Belle's purpose in the story is ultimately to transform the beast's soul to match the beauty of her own. She is everything the beast must aspire to be.





________________________________ Jasmine

Most people assume Jasmine is merely a reference to the jasmine flower and to a certain degree it is. Jasmine is actually indigenous to the Middle East. Known as "yasmine" to the natives, the flower is so pleasantly fragrant that the name translates to "gift from God" in Arabic. In the western world it can represent sensuality, elegance, and modesty -- a particular virtue Aladdin or Ali Ababwa must obtain to win the heart of the princess.




Pocahontas _________________________

Pocahontas is unique being that she is the only Disney Princess whom we know actually existed. Historically she is known by three separate names. Powhattan for "little mischief", Pocahontas was actually a nickname given to her because of her precocious and playful nature. Her real name was Matoaka or "bright stream between the hills". This can easily be linked to her affinity for rivers in the film. Her third name Rebecca, which she adopted after being baptized, is Hebrew for "to bind or bring together" and this is exactly what she did for her people and the Jamestown settlers.





___________________________________ Mulan

The story of Mulan is not a fairytale but a legend potentially based on real events of a woman named Hua Mulan which literally translates to "flower wood orchid", or the magnolia. Magnolias are a symbol of perseverance and nobility. The film makes reference to this in the scene when Mulan and her father sit beneath the magnolia tree. Her father subtly parallels his daughter to a late magnolia [mulan] blossom and how it will one day be the most beautiful of all.




Tiana ___________________________________

Potentially derived from the Greek word 'TIANI' meaning "princess", being a popular name among African-Americans it may be fitting that the first black Disney Princess was named Tiana. However this was not her first name choice. Originally her name was Maddy but was deemed too racially insensitive. This is odd since Maddy is short for Madeline derived from Magdeline. Mary Magdeline was a friend of Jesus and only disciple strong enough to witness his crucifixion and the first to witness his resurrection -- a woman who went on a long journey and acheived a great spiritual transformation.


_______________________________ Rapunzel

Also known as "rampion" or "bellflower", rapunzel is an edible plant. In the Grimm's Tale, it was specifically this plant that a poor man stole from a witch's garden to feed his pregnant wife. As punishment, the witch took the poor couple's daughter and raised her away in a tower without any doors or stairs. This plant is not only beautiful but is also noted for its ability to grow in very inhospitable soils. Rapunzel is very much like her namesake plant in that she too flourishes in beauty, kindness and curiosity despite being locked away in a cruel world. (she will also be the first Disney Princess who's main color is purple.)
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35 comments

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mischievous
Bwahaha! I'm sorry though cromulanfav, I had no idea. Though this could be an evil thing for me to do, write everyone's articles before their countdowns are finished.
posted over a year ago.
 
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Oh, no. I was going to write this in article after my prettiest name countdown finish. But it doesn't matter, i'l think of something else

Great article, as always
posted over a year ago.
 
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lol, it doesn't matter
posted over a year ago.
 
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Cool article
posted over a year ago.
 
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laugh
hahaah i was going to point that out, alafastanzio. Poor cromulanfav. Anyways, this article is really well written, as usual!
posted over a year ago.
 
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DreamyGal said:
Cool article
posted over a year ago.
 
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i never knew that its completely interesting
posted over a year ago.
 
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But what about the Tempest for Ariel's name? People have said that The Little Mermaid is much like Shakespeare's The Tempest with an airy spirit named Ariel and storms and ships and the sea. I also think the association with air has to do with Ariel longing for a life of feeling and breathing air.
posted over a year ago.
 
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^^DisneyDusty. I know of the Shakespearean character. Just like Ariel his name was significant to the association with air but his name would not have been the 'origin' or meaning of hers so I didn't mention it. Also Ariel is the name of a Jewish demon with the power over all four of the elements: earth, air, fire, and water. All of which can be linked to Ariel with wanting to walk on land, wanting to breath air, her firey red hair, or being a mermaid.
posted over a year ago.
 
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^^Whoa, that is so damn cool!
posted over a year ago.
 
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surprise
I always wondered where they got the names from.
posted over a year ago.
 
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my mom had a theory on Ariel's name and I agreed with it
So, you know how Disney is involved with youth Aids relief? Well, how they first got into child Aids relief is a little girl named Ariel who died of Aids when she was eight I think, and that was a little while before The Little Mermaid came out, so my mom thinks they named her Ariel as a tribute/memorial
posted over a year ago.
 
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interesting. where did you read this? It would make sense since Howard Ashman died of AIDS and if he had known beforehand.
posted over a year ago.
last edited over a year ago
 
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My mom had wondered if that's why they named her Ariel, it was more of a thought than a fact. sorry it took me so long to reply
posted over a year ago.
 
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abrrsb100 said:
omg! IT probobly took u forev to research! But I luv this article its right on the dot!
posted over a year ago.
 
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I like this a lot!
posted over a year ago.
 
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Is taht why they called her Jasmine? Fascinating. I always thought they just named her that because her real name in the original story (Princess Badroulbadour)was too complicated for the American culture. Very cool list! =)
posted over a year ago.
 
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You did alot of research! Great job you must really like mythology. I've always thought Auroras name came from the Aurora Borealis.
posted over a year ago.
 
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meh
faya27 said:
I like this article. I still don't get how any of the origins of the name "Ariel" connect with our mermaid. none of them make sense to her personality/role of the film. It seems like it's one of those names that was randomly picked from a jar of name tags instead of from careful research. It seems like the Disney crew had trouble picking a name for the little mermaid and were pressured from katzenburg to pick a name quick which led them to pick randomly pick "Ariel" at a the last minute. Tiana is a great name too, but I like Maddy better. (gets shot by a random black person).
posted over a year ago.
 
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A.M.A.Z.I.N.G!!!!!!! this is such a great article!! thank you so much I've been searching everywhere but I couldn't find any of this quality, congratulations!
posted over a year ago.
 
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I really love the name: Tiana, and I really never had listen that until the movie came out, I even didn't know it was a real name! :b but is a very elegant, pretty and curious name for me(: I also love the names: Melody, Giselle & Kiara but they are not official Disney princesses altough they are, so bad... :L
posted over a year ago.
 
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I love the symbolism behind Briar Rose/Aurora! I'm not familiar with the original story so I'm not sure if the Disney animators specifically chose her names, but kudos to them if they did.
posted over a year ago.
 
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Interesting, I never knew any of this stuff! It's so cool too see how they all got there names. :)
posted over a year ago.
 
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MCF2000 said:
its so cool ive read grimms tales i love this article its so cool
posted over a year ago.
 
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My name is Ariel and I am a guy. Did anyone know of a girl named Ariel before 1989 when "The Little Mermaid" came out?
posted over a year ago.
 
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Swanpride said:
A very good article. Perhaps you should add that "Briar Rose" is the title of "Sleeping Beauty" in the German original version.

And concerning Ariel: Ariel is an air spirit in "The Tempest". In the original version of the Fairy Tale, the little mermaid becomes an air spirit, too, so perhaps that's the reason for the name. It's also notable that all the names of her sisters end with an "a", so she is set apart by her name from the very beginning.
posted over a year ago.
 
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Such a great article. I learned the meaning of Rapunzel from it.
posted over a year ago.
 
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Very cool!
posted over a year ago.
 
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How different! When I was little I wanted to be named Aurora, Jasmine, or Maddi.... my first daughter I plan to name Belle, no matter what, because girls are beautiful to me.
posted over a year ago.
 
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big smile
You who wrote this, are amazing with your words! If you go on like this, you may become an amazing non-fictional author, if you are not already one!
posted over a year ago.
 
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^ agree
posted over a year ago.
 
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Aurora is also the name of a Roman Goddess. "Aurora is seen as a lovely woman who flies across the sky announcing the arrival of the sun. Aurora is not one of the better-known goddesses. However, Shakespeare refers to her in his famous play Romeo and Juliet."
posted over a year ago.
 
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I was doing some searching on google for meaning of the DP's names and I found this. Funny how it brings me back to fanpop. Lovely article. Very informative and helpful.
posted 9 months ago.
 
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Cool!
posted 9 months ago.
 
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This is amazing! Thanks for the info :)
posted 7 months ago.