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StStephen GiacomoCavedone.jpg
Saint Stephen (detail) by Giacomo Cavedone. Saint Stephen was the first martyred saint.
Pronunciation/ˈstvən/ or /ˈstɛfən/
MeaningWreath, crown, honour, reward, royalty, renown, fame
Other names
Alternative spellingSteven
Nickname(s)Stevo, Steve, Stevie, Steph, Ste
DerivedΣτέφανος (Stéphanos)
Related namesStephanos, Ștefan, Stefan, Stefano, Stephan, Stefani, Steph, Stephanie, Stevo, Steffen, Sten, Sven, Swen, Étienne, Esteban, István, Stephanie (feminine form)
See alsoRobert, Rudolph, Roger, Louis, Ludwig, Timothy, Waldemar, Vladimir

Stephen or Steven is a common English first name. It is particularly significant to Christians, as it belonged to Saint Stephen (Greek: Στέφανος Stéphanos), an early disciple and deacon who, according to the Book of Acts, was stoned to death; he is widely regarded as the first martyr (or "protomartyr") of the Christian Church. The name "Stephen" (and its common variant "Steven")[1] is derived from Greek Στέφανος (Stéphanos), a first name from the Greek word στέφανος (stéphanos), meaning 'wreath, crown' and by extension 'reward, honor, renown, fame', from the verb στέφειν (stéphein), 'to encircle, to wreathe'.[2][3] In Ancient Greece, crowning wreaths (such as laurel wreaths) were given to the winners of contests. Originally, as the verb suggests, the noun had a more general meaning of any "circle"—including a circle of people, a circling wall around a city, and, in its earliest recorded use, the circle of a fight, which is found in the Iliad of Homer.[4]

The name, in both the forms Stephen and Steven, is commonly shortened to Steve or Stevie. The spelling as Stephen can also be pronounced /ˈstɛfən/ which is from the Greek Original version of Stephanos. In English, the female version of the name is "Stephanie". Many surnames are derived from the first name, including Stephens, Stevens, Stephenson, and Stevenson, all of which mean "Stephen's (son)". In modern times especially the name has sometimes been given with intentionally nonstandard spelling, such as Stevan or Stevon. A common variant of the name used in English is Stephan /ˈstɛfən/; related names that have found some currency or significance in English include Stefan (pronounced /ˈstɛfən/ or /stəˈfɑːn/ in English), Esteban (often pronounced /ˈɛstɪˌbæn/), and the Shakespearean Stephano /ˈstɛfən/.

Like all biblical names, Stephen has forms in almost all major world languages. Some of these include: Esteban (Spanish; Spanish pronunciation: [esˈteβan]); Estêvão (Portuguese); Esteve (Catalan); Estève (Occitan); Étienne and Stéphane (French); Istifanus (Arabic); István (Hungarian; Hungarian pronunciation: [ˈiʃtvaːn]); Setefane (Sotho); Shtjefni (Albanian); Stefan (German, Dutch, Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, Ukrainian, Bulgarian, and Serbian; German pronunciation: [ˈʃtɛfan]); Stefán (Icelandic); Stepan (Ukrainian, Russian, Armenian); Ștefan (Romanian); Štefan (Slovak and Slovenian); Stefana (Malagasy); Stefano (Italian and Swahili); Stefanos (modern Greek, modern Hebrew, and Estonian); Stefans (Latvian and Afrikaans); Steffan (Welsh); Štěpán (Czech); Stepane (Georgian); Steponas (Lithuanian); Stiofán (Irish); Sutepano (Japanese); Szczepan (Polish); Tapani (Finnish); Sitiveni (Fijian) and Setefano (Samoan).

In the United Kingdom, it peaked during the 1950s and 1960s as one of the top ten male first names (ranking third in 1954) but had fallen to twentieth by 1984 and had fallen out of the top one hundred by 2002.[5] The name was ranked 201 in the United States in 2009, according to the Social Security Administration.[6] The name reached its peak popularity in 1951 but remained very common through the mid-1990s, when popularity started to decrease in the United States.[7]

List of alternatives[edit]

People with the name[edit]


In England and Wales, neither "Stephen" nor "Steven" was among the top 100 names for newborn boys in 2003–2007.[12] In Scotland, "Steven" and "Stephen" were the 8th and 10th most popular names for newborn boys in 1975, but were not in the top ten in 1900, 1950 or 2000.[13] "Stephen" was 68th in 1900,[14] and 46th in 1950,[15] while "Steven" was not in the top 100 either year. Neither spelling was in the top 100 names for newborn boys in Scotland in 2008.[16]

Neither "Stephen" nor "Steven" was among top 25 most popular baby boys' names in Ireland in 2006 or 2007.[17]

In the United States, the spelling "Stephen" reached its peak of popularity between 1949–1951, when it was the 19th most popular name for newborn boys. It stayed in the top 100 boys' names from 1936 through 2000, and for most years between 1897 and 1921. In 2008 it was the 192nd most common name for boys.[18] The spelling "Steven" reached its peak during 1955–1961, when it was the 10th most popular name for newborn boys. It stayed in the top 100 boys' names from 1941 through 2007. In 2008 it was the 104th most popular name for boys. Before the 20th century, the "Steven" spelling was heavily outweighed by "Stephen", never reaching above 391st.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Stephen was ranked 246th among male names in the United States in 2015, and 357th in England and Wales (source); Steven was ranked 154th in the United States and 403rd in England and Wales (source). Stephen, however, is the form more often used in historical contexts, and almost exclusively the form used for the saint.
  2. ^ "Online Etymology Dictionary". Retrieved 2012-02-01.
  3. ^ στέφανος, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek–English Lexicon, on Perseus
  4. ^ Homer, Iliad, 13.736, on Perseus
  5. ^ "Stephen – Meaning And Origin Of The Name Stephen". Retrieved 2012-02-01.
  6. ^ Popular Baby Names, Social Security Online
  7. ^ "Popularity of Stephen in the United States". Retrieved 2012-02-01.
  8. ^ "Name Stevko @ Acta Croatica".
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Algonquian Terminology Forum". Retrieved 2016-10-08.
  11. ^ "Amharic Names That Start With E".
  12. ^ Top 100 names for baby boys in England and Wales Archived May 22, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, National Statistics, 2009.
  13. ^ Popular Forenames in Scotland, 1900 – 2000 Archived 2009-06-08 at the Wayback Machine, General Register Office, Scotland, Occasional Paper No. 2, 2001.
  14. ^ Table: The Top 100 Names: 1900 Archived 2011-01-01 at the Wayback Machine, in Popular Forenames in Scotland, 1900 – 2000, General Register Office, Scotland, Occasional Paper No. 2, 2001.
  15. ^ Table: The Top 100 Names: 1950 Archived 2009-06-12 at the Wayback Machine, in Popular Forenames in Scotland, 1900 – 2000, General Register Office, Scotland, Occasional Paper No. 2, 2001.
  16. ^ Table: Top 100 boys' and girls' names, Scotland, 2008, showing changes since 2007 Archived 2011-06-14 at the Wayback Machine, in Popular Forenames — Babies' First Names 2008 Archived 2010-04-20 at the Wayback Machine, General Register Office, Scotland, 2009.
  17. ^ Top 25 Babies' Names for Boys, Central Statistics Office Ireland, 2009.