Goku has become a fan favorite and possibly the most well-known name throughout the Dragon Ball community for ages, being the loveable hero that we have all come to adore. But, a handful of characters within the storyline call him by another name, and plenty of people still wonder why Vegeta calls Goku Kakarot in Dragon Ball.
While almost everyone in the Dragon Ball universe knows Goku, Kakarot is actually his true Saiyan name – given to him by his parents at birth. Vegeta knew Goku as Kakarot before they met in Dragon Ball Z, and continues to use this name out of Saiyan pride. While it was only due to pride at the beginning, it may have developed into a sign of respect for Goku as their relationship evolved.
While Goku being called by this other name has created a ton of questions amongst fans over the years, there is a really simple explanation for it. Stick around to find out about Goku’s other name, Kakarot, where it originates from, as well as why only Vegeta and a select number of Dragon Ball characters call him Kakarot instead of Goku.
Where Does ‘Kakarot’ Come From?
Although the vast majority of Dragon Ball fans and characters within the Dragon Ball universe know this protagonist as Goku, or perhaps Son Goku, this is not really his name. Goku was given this name after he was taken in by his guardian, Son Gohan, who he would later name his son after in the storyline.
But, Goku’s true name is in fact Kakarot, which was granted to him by his biological Saiyan parents – Bardock, his father, and Gine, his mother. According to the Dragonballpedia WIki:
“Kakarot (referred to as Goku by his friends on Earth) was born sometime in 737 Age on Planet Vegeta, during a time of great turmoil. Following a Saiyan custom, Goku was sent as a baby to planet Earth, in order to defeat its inhabitants and clear the planet for its future sale. As Earth’s inhabitants were thought to be weak, a baby Saiyan was seen as enough for the task, especially after transforming into a Great Ape by Earth’s moon. Goku’s father, a low-class Saiyan warrior named Bardock, perished in his home planet’s destruction, shortly after Goku’s departure, and his older brother Raditz was nowhere to be seen. It is unknown what happened to Goku’s mother.”
Goku is simply his earth name, while Kakarot is his true Saiyan name. For comparison, Clark Kent would be Superman’s earth name, while Kal-El would be his Kryptonian name (the reason why General Zod refers to him by this name).
As a result, it is understandable why only a few people know this name at all, let alone use it to refer to Goku. On the other hand, Goku is not as aware of his past or his heritage in the beginning, and his character isn’t as close to other Saiyans as one might have expected. Feeling that earth is his real home, and having developed a personality that’s more in line with earth’s morals and values, he prefers the name Goku.
Why Does Vegeta Call Goku Kakarot In Dragon Ball?
A lot of the misconception around why Vegeta calls Goku Kakarot comes down to the understanding of the word. Some fans have started believing that Kakarot actually means ‘clown’ in their ancestral language, but this really isn’t the case.
Goku and Vegeta have an odd frenemy type of relationship, having started off on the wrong foot. Since Goku and Vegeta are seen as the last vestige of the entire Saiyan race, any Saiyan might naturally share a type of brotherhood bond with others who are left – irrespective of how much or how little they like each other.
Vegeta has been open about the fact that he doesn’t necessarily see Goku in the same way as everyone else, often referring to him in a condescending manner. Although, it is partially understandable since Goku is not the typical Saiyan and may be a constant reminder of everything that Vegeta had lost.
But, if there’s anything that fans know for sure about Vegeta, it’s the fact that Saiyan pride is a massive aspect of who he is – he goes out of his way to show pride for his roots and bloodline. It may appear that Vegeta calls Goku Kakarot simply due to the fact that Goku is his earth name, and he does not think it suits a true Saiyan.
Calling Goku by his true Saiyan name, Kakarot, is simply just a way to further support and show respect for the Saiyan pride while these two heroes are on earth. But, it may also be due to habit since Vegeta did know Goku long before they met for the first time in Dragon Ball Z, and had already been referring to him as Kakarot at the time.
As the storyline of the Dragon Ball world progresses, it’s clear that the brotherhood-like bond between Goku and Vegeta has only become stronger – although Vegeta still and will probably always see Goku as a clown. But, it’s evident that Vegeta develops a different opinion of Goku, and referring to him by the name Kakarot may have developed into a sign of respect – showing that Vegeta does think Goku is worthy of being a Saiyan after all.
Who Else Calls Goku Kakarot?
While Vegeta is the most common in terms of the characters that call Goku Kakarot, he is not the only one. There are a few other characters throughout the Dragon Ball saga that also refer to Goku as Kakarot.
Goku is called Kakarot by his brother, Raditz, and this is actually the first time fans get to hear him being called by this name in Dragon Ball Z. Alpart from Vegeta, Nappa also refers to Goku as Kakarot rather than his earth name.
Why Does Goku Let People Call Him Kakarot?
Many fans have wondered why Goku lets people call him Kakarot, but it’s safe to say that while Goku isn’t as patriotic and proud as Vegeta, he is still a Saiyan. Being true to his bloodline deep down, it’s understandable that Goku (once mature) wouldn’t really have major issues with people calling him by his Saiyan name if they wish.
That being said, it does seem that only Saiyans or higher-ups use this name, but Goku may not respond well to anybody calling him by this name at all. Goku was never really too fussed about Saiyan pride compared to other remaining Saiyans, instead deciding to become a dedicated Earth-dweller and hero.
In fact, he has actually become more fond of earth and its people overall, especially since every Saiyan that Goku met was evil with questionable motives, at least in the beginning. He still prefers to introduce himself and be referred to as Goku no matter the circumstances, whether he is fighting an earth-dweller or not.
All in all, it can be assumed that anyone who is of Saiyan heritage or is familiar with the Saiyan bloodline has the chance of calling Goku Kakarot instead of his earth name. It primarily comes down to pride and respect, and the will to keep the Saiyan pride alive no matter what.