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What Does The Pac In Pac-Man Stand For?

Would you believe that Pac-Man got his name because people can't behave themselves? It's true. Had that not been the case, he never would've been Pac-Man at all. The game Pac-Man might've never taken off the way it did. The entire video game industry might look a whole lot different today; all because of some potential hooligans.


The game Namco released in 1980 was never intended to be called Pac-Man. Instead, the game starring the little yellow disc was to be something closer to "Pack Man," borrowed from the Japanese phrase "paku-paku," which means "gobbling something up." Unfortunately, the name got mistranslated when moved over to English, and for a brief period, the game was known as "Puckman" (presumably because of Pac-Man's shape, which is not unlike that of a hockey puck). And that appeared to be what the game (and the character) would be called going forward.

But the name Puckman didn't stick when the game came to the United States of America. And the reason why is hilarious.

It was feared that instances of the word Puckman — perhaps in advertisements or other imagery — would be vandalized, and that those altering the name would replace the "P" with an "F." We presume you're old enough to know why that would be an issue, particularly for a family-friendly game like this one. So the name was changed once more for the Western audience, and as fate would have it, the change was closer to what Pac-Man was supposed to be called in the first place. That rebranding later made it back to Japan, and soon enough, Pac-Man was Pac-Man everywhere.


It's interesting to think about what might've happened had the game released in the U.S. under a different title. Would Puckman have fared as well? Would kids have crowded around pizza shop arcade machines for some Puckman? We can't say. But now you know what the Pac in Pac-Man stands for, and how that character ultimately got the name he has today.