From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Statue of King Arthur, designed by Albrecht Dürer and cast by Peter Vischer the Elder, early 16th century[1]
Pronunciation /ˈɑːrθər/
German: [ˈaʁtʊʁ]
Dutch: [ˈɑrtyr]
Gender Male
Language(s) Welsh
Other names
See also

Artur, Art (short form), Arttu or/and Artturi (Finnish variant)

Arthur pronunciation
Anglicised pronunciation of Arthur

Arthur is a common masculine given name. Its etymology is disputed, but its popularity derives from its being the name of the legendary hero King Arthur.

Art and Artie are diminutive forms of the name. A common spelling variant used in many Slavic, Romance, and Germanic languages is Artur.


The origin of the name Arthur remains a matter of debate. Some suggest it is derived from the Roman nomen gentile (family name) Artōrius, of obscure and contested etymology[2] (but possibly of Messapic[3][4][5] or Etruscan origin[6][7][8]). Some scholars have noted that the legendary King Arthur's name only appears as Arthur, Arthurus, or Arturus in early Latin Arthurian texts, never as Artōrius (although the Classical Latin Artōrius became Arturius in some Vulgar Latin dialects). However, this may not say anything about the origin of the name Arthur, as Artōrius would regularly become Art(h)ur when borrowed into Welsh.[9]

Another possibility is that it is derived from a Brittonic patronym *Arto-rīg-ios (the root of which, *arto-rīg- "bear-king" is to be found in the Old Irish personal name Art-ri) via a Latinized form *Artŏrius (with a short -ŏ-) that was conflated with Classical Latin Artōrius (with a long -ō-), which would naturally develop into Neo-Brittonic (the immediate ancestor of Welsh, Cornish, and Breton, which emerged by the middle of the 6th century AD) *Arθṻr.[10] The commonly proposed derivation from Welsh arth "bear" + (g)wr "man" (earlier *Arto-uiros in Brittonic) is not possible for phonological and orthographic reasons; notably that a Brittonic compound name *Arto-uiros should produce Old Welsh *Artgur (where -u- represents the short vowel /u/) and Middle/Modern Welsh *Arthwr and not Arthur (where -u- is a long vowel /ʉː/) In Welsh poetry the name is always spelled Arthur and is exclusively rhymed with words ending in -ur—never words ending in -wr—which confirms that the second element cannot be [g]wr "man").[11][12]

An alternative theory, which has only gained limited acceptance among scholars,[13][14][15][16][17][18] derives the name Arthur from the Latin Arcturus (the brightest star in the constellation Boötes, near Ursa Major or the Great Bear[19]), which is the latinisation of the Greek Αθανάσιος (Athanasios) and means "Immortal". Another form, Arcturus would also have become Art(h)ur when borrowed into Welsh, and its brightness and position in the sky led people to regard it as the "guardian of the bear" and the "leader" of the other stars in Boötes.[20]

A similar first name is Old Irish Artúr, which is believed to be derived directly from an early Old Welsh or Cumbric Artur.[21] The earliest historically attested bearer of the name is a son or grandson of Áedán mac Gabráin (died AD 609).[22]

People and characters with the given name Arthur[edit]



Fictional characters[edit]

In many languages[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Barber 1986, p. 141
  2. ^ Malone 1925
  3. ^ Marcella Chelotti, Vincenza Morizio, Marina Silvestrini, Le epigrafi romane di Canosa, Volume 1, Edipuglia srl, 1990, pg. 261, 264.
  4. ^ Ciro Santoro, "Per la nuova iscrizione messapica di Oria", La Zagaglia, A. VII, n. 27, 1965, P. 271-293.
  5. ^ Ciro Santoro, La Nuova Epigrafe Messapica "IM 4. 16, I-III" di Ostuni ed nomi in Art-, Ricerche e Studi, Volume 12, 1979, p. 45-60
  6. ^ Wilhelm Schulze, Zur Geschichte lateinischer Eigennamen (Volume 5, Issue 2 of Abhandlungen der Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen, Philologisch-Historische Klasse, Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften Göttingen Philologisch-Historische Klasse) , 2nd Edition, Weidmann, 1966, p. 72, pp. 333-338
  7. ^ Olli Salomies: Die römischen Vornamen. Studien zur römischen Namengebung. Helsinki 1987, p. 68
  8. ^ Herbig, Gust., "Falisca", Glotta, Band II, Göttingen, 1910, p. 98
  9. ^ Koch 1996, p. 253
  10. ^ Zimmer, Stefan, "The Name of Arthur - A New Etymology ", Journal of Celtic Linguistics, Volume 13, Number 1, March 2009, University of Wales Press, pp. 131-136.
  11. ^ See Higham 2002, p. 74.
  12. ^ See Higham 2002, p. 80.
  13. ^ Bromwich, Rachel, Trioedd ynys Prydein: the Welsh triads, University of Wales Press, 1978, p. 544
  14. ^ Zimmer, Stefan, Die keltischen Wurzeln der Artussage: mit einer vollständigen Übersetzung der ältesten Artuserzählung Culhwch und Olwen, Winter, 2006, p. 37
  15. ^ Zimmer, Stefan, "The Name of Arthur - A New Etymology ", Journal of Celtic Linguistics, Volume 13, Number 1, March 2009, University of Wales Press, pp. 131-136.
  16. ^ Walter, Philippe, Faccia M. (trans.), Artù. L'orso e il re, Edizioni Arkeios, 2005, p. 74.
  17. ^ Johnson, Flint, The British sources of the abduction and Grail romances, University Press of America, 2002, pp. 38-39.
  18. ^ Chambers, Edmund Kerchever, Arthur of Britain, Speculum Historiale, 1964, p. 170
  19. ^ arctūrus, Charlton T. Lewis, Charles Short, A Latin Dictionary, on Perseus
  20. ^ Anderson 2004, pp. 28–29; Green 2007b, pp. 191–4.
  21. ^ * Jaski, Bart, Early Irish examples of the name Arthur, Z.C.P. band 56, 2004.
  22. ^ Adomnán, I, 8–9 and translator's note 81; Bannerman, pp. 82–83. Bannerman, pp. 90–91, notes that Artúr is the son of Conaing, son of Áedán in the Senchus fer n-Alban.