How the name 'James T. Kirk' originate. I heard it might have come from the fact that Gene Roddenberry once lived in NJ and the name of a mayor from Elizabeth, NJ was James T. Kirk.

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    His name was, according to Wikipedia, based on James Cook, the explorer. I've found it surprisingly hard to track down a source for that assertion
    – Valorum
    Mar 26, 2020 at 23:42
  • The T was likely recycled from an earlier character of Roddenberry's (scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/139981/…)
    – Valorum
    Mar 26, 2020 at 23:47
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    I always liked the origin story behind Khan Noonien Singh.
    – user62584
    Mar 26, 2020 at 23:51
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    One of the memos they sent internally (with multiple name choices) is pictured in Inside Star Trek: The Real Story. No reason is given for why they ended up making that choice
    – Valorum
    Apr 2, 2020 at 20:10
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    @Valorum Neither have I, which is why I posted a "FWIW" comment, and not an actual answer. But as an Australian who watched ST:TOS back in the 1960s, the James Cook theory has a certain appeal. ;)
    – PM 2Ring
    Apr 2, 2020 at 21:57

1 Answer 1


Actually, Memory Alpha has a good entry on this:

The name for Kirk wasn't decided until 1965. In a memo written by Gene Roddenberry to researcher Kellam de Forest on 18 May 1965, sixteen names were under consideration...

(list of 16 names omited, Kirk was #15)

"James Tiberius Kirk" was the final choice of name chosen to adorn the new TV show's hero. "James", derived from the Hebrew name Jacob, means "grasps the heel" or "grasps the bottom"; a colloquial equivalent would be "he gets it" or even "he groks". "Kirk" is the Lowland Scots word for "Church". "Tiberius" was first identified in TAS: "Bem", and mentioned again in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Tiberius Caesar Augustus was the second Roman Emperor, known for his darkness and corruption, from the death of Augustus in 14 AD until his death in 37 AD. "Tiber" was the Latin name for the river that ran through the city of Rome. The name might also possibly have been influenced by the maverick Roman politician Tiberius Gracchus. (See also: Apocrypha) (citation needed • edit)


  • I've downvoted. Although this answer explains some of the possible meanings of the name, it doesn't explain its origin or how it was chosen by the production team
    – Valorum
    May 31, 2020 at 6:24

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