Used as both a given name and a surname, Leonard is a masculine name with German origins. During my etymological studies, I’ve found the meaning of the name Leonard, which is explained in detail on this page.
Meaning of the name Leonard:
The meaning of the name Leonard is “lion strength,” “strong like a lion,” “brave” or “lion-hearted.” It’s been used as a given masculine name in English, German, Dutch and Irish cultures for centuries.
Origins of the Name Leonard
The name Leonard originated from the Old High German name Leonhard, which is responsible for its meaning. The name Leonhard is comprised of two separate words, the first of which means “lion,” while the latter means “strength” or “brave.” It’s believed that the Normans brought this name to England where it was converted into the Leonard.
The earliest documented usage of the given name Leonard in England dates back to 1272. In Germany, the earliest documented use occurred in 1479. The name Leonard didn’t become truly popular in either of these regions until the 19th century. However, it rapidly spread and eventually reached other regions, including North America.
Leonard was likely used as a given name in England and Germany long before its first recorded usage in these respective regions. There are stories, for example, of a Frankish Saint named Leonard who founded a monetary.
Etymologists have found the name Leonard used elsewhere, including Ireland. In the Gaelic language, O’Leannain was a relatively popular surname. The name was later converted into Leonard, which has since been used as both a masculine surname as well as a given name in Ireland.
Different Country Variations of the Name Leonard:
English: Lenny, Leo, Len
French: Leon, Leonard
German: Lennert, Leon, Leonhard
The popularity of the Name Leonard
The name Leonard was most popular during the 1800s and early 1900s, though it’s still widely used as a masculine given name. In 1880, birth records show that 200 newborn boys in the United States were named Leonard, making it the 78th most popular boys’ name in the country. In 1900, Leonard was the 54th most popular boys’ name in the United States. Just three years later, Leonard peaked at the 23rd most popular boys’ name.
Around the mid-20th century, Leonard’s popularity began to decline. In 1990, it was the 292nd most popular boys’ name in the United States, dropping to the 705th most popular boys’ name in 2011. Even so, hundreds if not thousands of newborn boys throughout the world are given this meaningful name each year.
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