Have you ever noticed that Chewbacca can't say the word "Chewbacca"? What is the out-of-universe origin of this name? George Lucas is a well known fan of Japanese film, but I can't imagine him naming a character Chuu-baka (eg. "moderately stupid"). What language does this come from?

  • Well, Chewbacca can’t say much of anything that I know how to spell. The name seems awkwardly close to “chew tobacco,“ but I don’t know if that has anything to do with anything. – Molag Bal May 11 '16 at 7:12
  • If the question being asked here is "how did Lucas come up with the name for chewbacca?" then it's not a duplicate. – RedCaio May 11 '16 at 7:51
  • You should edit this to focus on the out-of-universe explanation; that way it might not be closed. – Adamant May 11 '16 at 7:52
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    I don't have enough source to make it a real answer, but on Wikipedia, there is: Chewbacca's creation as a "gentle, hairy, non-English-speaking co-pilot" was inspired by George Lucas seeing his own dog sitting up on the passenger seat of his car. It is said that Chewbacca's name is derived from собака (sobaka), the Russian word for dog. – Majuj May 11 '16 at 8:05
  • The question has been edited to focus on out-of-universe origins. I suggest that it be reopened. – Adamant May 11 '16 at 9:01

Out of Universe

In "The Making of Star Wars (Enhanced Edition)" by J. W. Rinzler, Lucas is quoted as saying that the name came about while he was playing around with combinations of Wookiee-sounding words:

Chewbacca: “I came up with a whole bunch of Wookiee words, just changing words around, and I liked Chewbacca the best.”

As such, it appears to be meaningless.

You may also like to note that the word "Wookiee" came from an improvisation on the set of THX 1138 by Terry McGovern.

The word Wookiee came from THX 1138, when actor Terry McGovern was doing wild track voice-overs and said, “I think I just ran over a Wookiee.”

In-Universe

According to the (now non-canon) sourcebook 'Star Wars RPG: Galactic Campaign Guide', the word "Chewbacca" is made up of two separate words in Shyriiwook, the language of the Wookiees; Chew (meaning "honored, noble, trusted") and Bacca (meaning "ally, brother/sister, friend).

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Well I am not 100% sure of the validity of this (can't find anything other than what I have already to back it up as fact) but it would see that Chewbaaca was inspired by George Lucas's dog Indiana (the same dog that was responsible for Indiana Jones!) and the name Chewbacca originated from the Russian word “Sobaka” (собака), meaning “dog.”

The name “Chewbacca” was derived from the Russian word “Sobaka” (собака), meaning “dog.” The term “Wookiee” came from voice actor Terry McGovern. When he was doing voice-over tracks for Lucas’ directorial debut, THX 1138, McGovern randomly improvised “I think I just ran over a Wookiee” during one of the sessions.

source

Chewbacca's creation as a "gentle, hairy, non-English-speaking co-pilot" was inspired by George Lucas seeing his own dog sitting up on the passenger seat of his car. It is said that Chewbacca's name is derived from собака (sobaka), the Russian word for dog.

source

Maybe someone with better Googling skills will be able to ascertain if this is factual or not but it does seem to have spread rather far and wide!

  • I'm going to reluctantly downvote this one. Both the sources you've linked lead back to Filmsmarts but there's no indication where they got that info from. – Valorum Jun 7 '16 at 18:54
  • Thus this comment at the end - > Maybe someone with better Googling skills will be able to ascertain if this is factual or not but it does seem to have spread rather far and wide! – Rincewind Jun 7 '16 at 18:56
  • I'll happily agree that this question could be improved by actually finding a source that confirms this. Where I think we might have to disagree is whether an answer with no reliable sources (filmsmarts.com appears to accept submissions with zero evidence) should have been posted in the first place. – Valorum Jun 7 '16 at 18:57
  • Well that fact it I just don't have the googling skills to find said official answer but by posting what I do know and can find I can hopefully point someone that does have those skills in a direction and they can then say yay or nay to the validity of what I posted. But until then it is the best and the most official-ish answer that there is. – Rincewind Jun 7 '16 at 19:00
  • If the not 100% ness of my sources are a real issue I will remove it though... :) – Rincewind Jun 7 '16 at 19:04

Bacc also (Bacca) is an Anglo-nornan word from late Latin and old French (perhaps of gaulish origin). The words Bacc and Bacca was commons in the middle english language (Norman language). Note: WORD BACC: from Latin and old French language and norman language.

Louise, Gérard. La Seigneurie de Bellême, Xe-XIIe siècles: Dévolution des pouvoirs territoriaux et construction d'une seigneurie de frontière aux confins de la Normandie et du Maine à la charnière de l'an Mil, Le Pays Bas-Normand, 199-202. Rouen: Le Pays Bas-Normand, 1990.

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    Is there any indication that this is what Lucas was thinking about? Is Lucas, for example, a student of Latin or early Anglo-Norman words and phrases? – Valorum Sep 9 at 9:58
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    I cannot find any evidence that this word even exists. Bacca (or baca) is obviously a Latin word, meaning ‘berry’, but its Norman French (and English) form is bay(e) (the meaning having shifted to ‘laurel’ in English) so that’s not it. Bacc(a) is not in Bosworth. It’s also less than useful to say that a name comes from an Anglo-Norman word and then not say what that word means. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Sep 9 at 14:02
  • yes, there is many evidence in texts that show that the word Bacca comes from the Anglo-Norman language and middle english language. It is important to know that the Norman language is composed of a mixture of Latin Romanic, Old French and Old Nordic (in smaller percentage) Bibliographies: Bibliography: Books Beaumont/Meulan: Crouch, David. The Beaumont Twins: The Roots and Branches of Power in the Twelfth Century, Cambridge Studies in Medieval Life and Thought, Fourth Series, 1. Cambridge: CUP, 1986. Houth, Émile. "Géographie des fiefs des comtes de Meulan." Bulletin philologique". – Charles Sep 10 at 20:37
  • More evidence: King, Edmund. "Waleran, Count of Meulan, Earl of Worcester." Tradition and Change: Essays in Honour of Marjorie Chibnall on Her Seventieth Birthday, 165-18. Editors Diane Greenway, Christopher Holdsworth and Jane Sayers. Cambridge: CUP, 1985. White, Geoffrey H. "The Career of Waleran, Count of Meulan and Earl of Worcester (1104-66)." TRHS 4th Series, no. 17 (1934). Bellême: Boussard, Jacques. "La seigneurie de Bellême aux Xe et XIe siècles." In Mélanges d'histoire du Moyen Age Louis Halphen, edited by Charles-Edmond Perrin, 43-54. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France. – Charles Sep 10 at 20:44

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