A lot of people wonder the same thing: “Why does everyone seem named after their special talent? How do their parents know what their talent is?” Here’s my personal answer to that question.
How do parents know what the special talent of their child is going to be so they can name them accordingly? The answer is simple: They don’t. Let’s look at the names of the Mane Six as an example….
Twilight Sparkle – This name has basically nothing to do with her talent. If anything, it merely indicates the fact that she’s a unicorn with the word “sparkle” (a word one might somewhat relate to magic). Therefore, any parents could have given their unicorn daughter the name “Twilight Sparkle”. If they knew what her special talent was going to be beforehand, they might have named her something along the lines of “Sparkle Power” or “Amazing Magic”. Instead, they chose something that had to do with the fact that Twilight simply could do magic because she’s a unicorn.
Fluttershy – Fluttershy’s talent is being good with animals. At first glance, her name might seem to indicate her talent. However, her name has more to do with her personality, i.e. her notable shyness. Her timid nature might have been present even when she was a baby. Her parents, noticing what a shy foal she was, probably decided on a name with “shy” in it as a result. “Flutter”, the first part of her name, is another word for flying, and Fluttershy is a pegasus. The fact that it rhymes with “butterfly” really has nothing to do with her love of animals. It makes perfect sense that a shy flying pony would be named after both her shyness and a flying creature.
Applejack – Applejack is a member of the Apple family. Everyone in the family seems to be named after apples. Maybe their ancestors went by names like “Raisin Daisy”, but at some point down the line apples became the family business and they started naming their children accordingly. If “Family Appreciation Day” is anything to go by, the Apples have been farming apples long enough for naming their foals after apples to be a tradition. When you’re part of the Apple family, you’re expected to have a talent that has to do with apples. Of course, this might not be true one hundred percent of the time. Applebloom still hasn’t gotten her Cutie Mark, after all. She could be the rare exception to this unspoken rule.
Rarity – Rarity’s name seems to have more to do with her beauty than her talent, when you consider the fact that gems aren’t exactly rare in this show. What does the word “rarity” actually mean? “Oddity”, “curiosity”, “wonder”, “antique”. The type of name you would give a pony if you expected them to be special in some significant way or wanted them to be special in some significant way. In real life, parents often give their children names that have certain meanings, such as names that mean “beautiful” or “strong” or “kind”. Naming a newborn “Rarity” is along the same lines as naming a newborn “Lily”, which means “purity and beauty”. Applejack even states in “The Crystal Empire, Part 2” that “good things are better when they’re a rarity”, a clever play on words.
Rainbow Dash – Most pegasi in the series have names that have to do with weather or the sky (Cloudchaser, for example). Additionally, Rainbow Dash has a rainbow-colored mane. Putting those two facts together, it’s easy to figure out where the “Rainbow” part of her name came from. The “Dash” part is a bit trickier, but can nevertheless be explained without claiming that her parents somehow knew what her special talent would be. While “Dash” has to do with speed, it could be said that her parents could have put that in her name for one of two reasons:
1. They hoped that it would encourage her to succeed athletically.
2. Maybe being immensely fast runs in the family, just like apples run in the Apple family.
The latter makes sense when you consider the episode “Games Ponies Play”. In the flashback, we see filly Rainbow Dash standing on the back of a stallion with a similar rainbow Cutie Mark. This stallion appears to be her father or at least her older brother, judging by his rainbow mane. Not only does he appear to be related to her but he also has a similar cutie mark. Therefore, does being extremely fast run in her family? If that’s the case, it makes sense that she would be named “Rainbow Dash” in anticipation of her talent.
Pinkie Pie – Pinkie Pie’s talent is basically making people happy. Her name has nothing to do with her talent. The only thing it might point to is her love of sweets. Considering that (according to the book Pinkie Pie and the Rockin’ Ponypalooza Party!) all of her family members are named after rocks, why would they name her Pinkie Pie, or, to use her full name, “Pinkamena Diane Pie”? The “Pinkie” part is obvious. They were observing the fact that she’s pink in color. The “Pie” part seems to simply be her last name, since her sisters are named “Marble Pie” and “Limestone Pie”. Her parents and sisters were obviously given those names because they all seem to be rock-colored. But Pinkie, as a contrast to her drab-looking family, is pink.
Even the names of non-main characters don’t necessarily indicate their special talents. Shining Armor’s special talent, as an example, appears to be protection. His name is a play on the familiar phrase “knight in shining armor”. By naming him “Shining Armor”, his parents might have been hoping he would grow up to be a compassionate, protective stallion.
There is another possibility that is a bit more likely. It is based on an amusing moment in the parody series My Little Pony: The Mentally Advanced Series. At one point, Rainbow Dash asks Twilight if it would be possible for Celestia to legally change her name. It’s a funny scene, but it created the basis for a theory: What if that’s what happens to ponies whose special talents don’t match their names? Let’s say a pony is named “Muffin Top” and she’s expected to sell muffins for a living. However, once she reaches a certain age, it turns out that her talent has nothing to do with muffins. Instead, her talent is based on her love of reading. To avoid confusion, her name is legally changed to something along the lines of “Page Turner” to better match up with her special talent. What’s not to say this isn’t the standard course of action when ponies end up with names that don’t match their talents? It would account for why a lot of ponies have names that don’t match their talents. Either they feel that they don’t need a name that matches their talent or they’re simply too happy with the name to change it. After all, if your special talent is being a gymnast, you don’t want to go around with a name like “Fall Leaves”.