I found this on the Wikipedia page of Krypton:

Krypton, a planet in the DC Universe and the native world of Superman, is named after the element krypton, which is abundant in its atmosphere.

Does its abundance in krypton has anything to do with Superman or the story at all? Why does the planet even have lots of that chemical in the first place?

I honestly have no prior knowledge of comics so I apologize if this question happens to sound dumb. This is a part of my research for a chemistry presentation. Thanks a lot in advanced.

  • Check that wikipedia page for references.
    – GEdgar
    Nov 4, 2016 at 14:23
  • This is a comic, so there isn't a scientific reasons (such as why Earth has CO2 or methane in our atmosphere). Just an element of the story used to explain things.
    – Matt
    Nov 4, 2016 at 16:06

1 Answer 1


I looked at the Wikipedia page you mentioned, and I noticed that no source is offered for that article's statement that Planet Krypton had a high amount of the element krypton in its atmosphere, and thus was named in honor of the element. That makes me suspicious. Frankly, I don't remember ever seeing a "canonical comic book story" that made exactly that statement. (Although this may not mean anything, since I don't own copies of every Superman comic ever published, and I don't have a photographic memory for every line of dialogue in every Superman story I actually have read.)

I do, however, have in my collection a copy of at least one comic book story which offered a very different explanation for why Superman's homeworld acquired the name that it did. I will summarize for you.

In the comic book Superman #238 (June, 1971), the lead story about Superman was followed by a backup story in which a young woman working as a Kryptonian schoolteacher was telling a story to the kids in her new class. (The story was probably just a fable, but that isn't really the point right now.)

As she told it: Once upon a time, two humanoid space explorers wearing armored suits -- each visiting from a different planet -- just happened to land, simultaneously, on a previously-unexplored wilderness planet. After some initial misunderstandings, they ended up saving each other from nasty lifeforms, but also lost their spaceships to local conditions. They finally took off their helmets and introduced themselves. One was a man who called himself "Kryp." The other was then revealed to the reader to be a woman . . . who called herself "Tonn." Ergo (the teacher said, possibly tongue-in-cheek), to this very day the world inhabited by that couple's descendants was called, in their honor . . . "Krypton!"

This strongly implied that, in what we now call the "Pre-Crisis, Earth-One" version of Superman continuity, "Krypton" was not just an English-language-translation of whatever the heck the local name for that planet had sounded like in the Kryptonian language. Instead, the suggestion that the kids thought it made any sense for the names "Kryp" and "Tonn" to add up to "Krypton" was an indicator that "Krypton" was a phonetically accurate rendition of the two-syllable name which Superman's ancestors had long used for their beloved homeworld . . . and by sheer coincidence it sounded much the same as the way we pronounce the English-language version of the name of the chemical element which is represented with "Kr" in chemical equations.

  • 2
    Note that the Wikipedia article's talk page has a short discussion where nobody else has heard anything about Krypton being named for the element (let alone having the element in its atmosphere). That conversation also mentions that "Another pre-(or barely post-)Crisis Maggin explanation says the name comes from the Kryptonian word for ice or glacier, hence the white dog named Krypto. But as they're both retcons, it doesn't have any relation to the original naming by Seigel & Shuster."
    – MichaelS
    Nov 5, 2016 at 7:18

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.