The names of the Minions and other curiosities about the yellow characters of Despicable Me

Author: Stephanie Venturetti ,
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I Minions are the most popular characters of the Despicable Me franchise. Gru's careless and clumsy aides immediately broke into the hearts of viewers, becoming a viral phenomenon, and helping Illumination to make dizzying box office hits worldwide.

There are still many mysteries surrounding the Minions: their true origins, in fact, are still quite uncertain, and in some cases their peculiarities have not been fully explained in a convincing way. Waiting to see them again in the cinema in new adventures, let's find out something more about these cute minions.

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The names of the Minions

In the course of the films and short films dedicated to Minions we get to know many members of this species. Kevin, Stuart and little Bob are perhaps the best known, being the three main protagonists of the Despicable Me spin-off. However, we know by different names Minions appeared in the saga.

The complete list of Minions names includes:

  • Bob
  • Carl
  • Dave
  • Jerry
  • John
  • (Sir) Kevin
  • Mark
  • Phil
  • Stuart
  • Tim
  • Donnie
  • Throw
  • Tom
  • Ken
  • Mike
  • Chris
  • Eric
  • Henry
  • Norbert
  • Tony
  • Mel
  • Paul
  • Kevin (there are at least two Minions with the same name!)
  • Bob (another Bob!)
  • Jerry (another Jerry!)
  • Carl (and another Carl too!)
  • Tom (there are at least two Tom Minions here too!)

Gallery: The Minions whose names and looks we know

Curiously, as we can see, the names of the Minions are almost all borrowed from the English language, despite the fact that they do not really belong anywhere in the world - and, indeed, they speak a particular language, which even Gru struggles to master.

Again, they obviously are puns or linguistic references to be the master. Joking about his creatures, Pierre Coffin stated that Kevin derives from the Greek "Kevinos" (leader), Stuart from "Stuartalumni" (lazy), and Bob from "Robert" (ie, a shorter Robert, referring to the little boy's stature. Minion!). 

Minionese, the language of the Minions

La language that Minions speak is a fake language created specifically for the Despicable Me franchise. It is neither complex nor really follows the rules of a real language: director Pierre Coffin also stated that most words are an invention made "on the spot", depending on the needs of the moment. Despite this, over the course of the franchise the most attentive viewers will begin to recognize some characteristics and peculiarities. For example, the fact that many terms are borrowed from fruit and other foods, confirms that this species is truly food-loving!

Minionese (or Minion language, also known as banana-tongue) is a veritable fruit salad of words and terms borrowed from the languages ​​of humans. In the expressions used by the Minions there are traces of:

  • Spanish
  • Italian
  • Chinese
  • Philippine
  • French
  • russo
  • Chinese
  • Korean

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Some expressions of the Minionese are easily interpretable (like "para tú" / "for you", or the term "kampai"); others remain a mystery.

Gru seems capable of interpreting the language of the Minions without problems, but unfortunately he does not seem to have an active competence of the Minionese: despite having a book dedicated to the subject, his subordinates can only laugh at his attempts to communicate in their native language!

The voice of the Minions

Speaking of language and words: who voices the friendly Minions?

Whenever we listen to the Minionese in the films of the Despicable Me franchise (even in the Italian version of the film), we are listening to the voices of the directors Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud, the creators of the Minions. We do not know, however, the precise process of digital modulation of the voice that allowed them to make their characters so distinctive.

However, here is an example of the final result: the viral video with Minions singing Banana:

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To find out more about the other voices of the film and the protagonists of the franchise (from Gru to Scarlet Overkill), there is the insights of NoSpoiler on The voice actors of Despicable Me, The voice actors of Despicable Me 2, The voice actors of Despicable Me 3, The voice actors of Minions. In any case, we have confirmation that the Minions are not dubbed in Italian, but they keep their original voice (as happens in other countries of the world).

Why are all Minions male?

Among the many characteristics of the Minions, there is one that cannot go unnoticed: they are all male! But why are there no female Minions? The question has been asked several times to the directors of the Despicable Me films. And Pierre Coffin was very clear on this point: because the Minions are too stupid to be anything but males!

Given how dumb and stupid they can be, I would never be able to imagine Minions as females!

La Coffin's statement to The WrapHowever, he left doubts about another important point of the origins of the Minions. That is to say: how do they reproduce? The Despicable Me franchise suggests the existence of around 10400 Minions - how did these creatures come about?

Coffin explained that the Minions they are unable to reproduce or even to divide through mitosis, generating others like them. So what does cloning have to do with their origins? And if so, who created the Minions as a science experiment? The mystery, for now, remains unanswered and continues to thrill fans of the franchise.

Speaking of the origins and true nature of the Minions ... maybe there is also another factor that explains why there are no female Minions.

What are Minions?

The Minions are were created by character designer Eric Guillon and directors Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud. But, like many creations in the animation world, they too weren't immediately born in their final form. At first, Minions weren't the round, smiling, yellow creatures we've come to love.

Lucasfilm/Disney
A group of Jawas
The Jawas are among the inspirations of the Minions

The initial idea he saw them as human workers, with the only characteristic of being much shorter than their massive employer Gru. If the scenario looks familiar it is because, by admission of Coffin and Renaud, the Minions are inspired by Charlie's Oompa-Loompas and the Chocolate Factory. However, the Jawas of the Star Wars saga also made their contribution.

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The idea of ​​having human Minions, however, didn't last long: shortly after, in fact, the creative team decided to transform Groot's workers into robot! The Minions as we know them now began to take shape; And, after a series of steps and revisions, have morphed into their current, non-robotic version.

Eric Guillon / Illumination Entertainment
Concept art for the evolution of Minions
The evolution of the Minions, from workers to robots

Minions are always short in stature (average height seems to settle around 60cm), wear denim overalls, and have an infinite devotion to their master. Such a strong devotion, in fact, that when they are not employed by someone they fall into a deep depression! Not for nothing, the name Minions literally means "Servants".

In any case, these creatures also seem to have characteristics that make them super-resilient. Among other things, they are able to survive even without oxygen (Bob was thrown into space without consequences), and are able to recover rather quickly from a series of traumas and accidents that would not be equally without consequences for normal humans. ...

One last curiosity: although there are thousands of Minions (about 10400!), Their physical characteristics (height, hair, number of eyes and size) only allow a limited number of combinations, to be precise 48. This is why most Minions are made up of individuals that are almost indistinguishable from each other!

Minions FAQs

Are the Minions from Disney?

No: The Minions (as well as the entire Despicable Me franchise) belong to Illumination Entertainment.

Are Minions Bananas or Potatoes?

No, at least as far as we know so far. However, the origins of the Minions are shrouded in mystery, and could have been born from some genetic experiment that really links them to bananas or potatoes! Who can tell? To find out more, read the full NoSpoiler article.

Why are Minions obsessed with bananas?

Because they are delicious! There is no other explanation than this, for the moment.

However, this strange obsession may be somehow connected to their mysterious origins - keep reading on NoSpoiler to find out more about the Minions.

What does Minions mean?

Literally "Minions" means "Servants": a very fitting name for these characters, always looking for a master to take orders from!

What is the name of the leader of the Minions?

Minions do not have a real leader: they tend to follow all the orders of their master, without worrying too much about other hierarchies. On a few occasions, Kevin has been listed as the leader of the group, especially after the Minions movie, but that's a fairly subjective opinion.

Where Do Minions Live?

Wherever their master wishes!
In the past, however, they have been housed in freezing caverns, endless beaches, and underground laboratories.

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