Javier (name)

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Word/nameBandera de Reino de Navarra.svg Javier, Kingdom of Navarre, today part of Spain
Meaningfrom a placename meaning Castle or New House
Region of originLatin Europe
Other names
Related namesXabier, Xavier

Javier (pronounced [xaˈβjeɾ]) is the Spanish spelling of the masculine name Xavier.[1]

The name derives from the Catholic Saint called Francis de Xavier, where Xavier refers to the saint's birthplace. This birthplace name, in turn, has Basque roots, etymologically originating in the word etxaberri (etxe berri in standard spelling), meaning "castle" or "new house".[2]

The original place name went through a Romance phonetic change in Navarro-Aragonese, a Romance language spoken in the neighbouring Romanzado (cf. Leire) from the Early Middle Ages. Like examples can be found in Irunberri > Lumbier, Erronkari > Roncal. It was later borrowed by Castilian. Other variations of this name include Xaverius, Xever, Javiero, and Saverio. The feminine Javiera, Saveria, Zaviera, and Saverina are less common.

Etxeberria, Echeverría, Echevarría, Etxebarri, and Chávarri are Basque surnames related to the name by etymology.

Its diffusion is due to the fame of Jesuit priest and missionary Saint Francis Xavier (Spanish: San Francisco Javier). When he was canonized, places and people were named after him, which popularized the name.

Contemporary use of the name Javier is found in Spain, Equatorial Guinea and Latin American countries, where it is popular.

Etymology: from Exaberri to Javier[edit]

  • Loss of the initial e
  • Loss of the ending i
  • Middle, accentuated, e became the diphthongized form ie
  • Old Spanish X was pronounced /ʃ/ as in Basque, like an English sh. Old Spanish /ʃ/ then merged with J (then pronounced the English and later the French way) into /x/, which is now spelled J and pronounced like Scottish or German ch or as English h.

Portuguese kept the pronunciation of "x" as the English "sh". Therefore, in Portuguese the name is still spelled Xavier and maintains the original "sh" pronunciation.


In the English-speaking world, especially in the British media, the pronunciation of "Javier" is frequently confused with the pronunciation of French words or names ending in "-ier" such as Xavier or Olivier. The resulting pronunciation "HAV-ee-ay" is a hybrid of Spanish, French and English. In Spanish, correctly spoken, the final syllable sounds much like the English word "air", not the English word "eh".

English speakers, unfamiliar with names beginning with "X", sometimes pronounce "Xavier" as "ex-avier". This pronunciation is sometimes used for fictional characters, such as Charles Xavier, leader of the fictional X-Men, however it is not incorrect to pronounce it this way when considering its Basque origin or that many 'X' words derive in English from the Greek phonetics, which pronounce it as a 'Ks' sound.

In other languages[edit]


  1. ^ Albaigès, Josep M.; Olivart, J.M.A. (1993). Diccionario de nombres de personas (in Spanish). Universitat de Barcelona. p. 148. ISBN 978-84-475-0264-6. Retrieved 15 September 2018.
  2. ^ Manuel., Yáñez Solana, (c. 1995). El gran libro de los nombres : con una breve biografía de todos los santos y los personajes más famosos correspondientes a cada nombre. Madrid: M.E. Editores. ISBN 8449502322. OCLC 37613128.

External links[edit]