Sylvester/Silvester


Gender: Masculine
Origin: Latin
Meaning: “wooded, wild.”

Sylvester is an English corruption of the Latin name Silvester, which is derived from the Latin word silvestis meaning “wooded” or “wild.”

The name is borne by several saints and popes, “Silvester” became synonymous with the name for New Years Eve in some countries, since December 31st is the feast of St. Silvester.

Silvester is used in Danish, German, English, Slovene and Slovak.

Before the Reformation, Sylvester was a fairly common male name in England, but went out of usage due to its strong papal associations at the time.

Other forms of the name include:

  • Silvestre (Catalan/Spanish)
  • Silivestru (Corsican)
  • Silvestar (Croatian)
  • Silvestr/Sylvestr (Czech)
  • Sylvester (English/Finnish/Swedish/Ukrainian)
  • Silvar/Silver (Estonian)
  • Sylvestre (French)
  • Fester (Frisian/Limburgish)
  • Szilveszter (Hungarian)
  • Silvestro (Italian)
  • Silvester (Latin/Estonian)
  • Silvestrs (Latvian)
  • Vester (Limburgish)
  • Silvestras (Lithuanian)
  • Sylfest/Sølfest (Norwegian)
  • Sylwester (Polish: diminutive forms are: Syc, Syczek, Syczko, Sych, Sychno, Sychta, Sysz, Syszek, Syszka and Syszko)

An Italian and Slovene feminine form is Silvestra.

The name is currently borne by American actor, Sylvester Stallone (b.1946).

In American popular culture, it was borne by the animated cat named for the the felis silvestris catus, a subspecies of wildcat that was believed to be related to the domesticated cat, at the time. Later scientific evidence established them as two separate species..

A common English nickname is Sly.

2 thoughts on “Sylvester/Silvester

  1. Polish language wiki lists the masculine name Lasota as having the same meaning as Sylvester and claims it was used in the past as a literal translation of the name(in the same way that the Polish name Szczęsny became a literal translation of Felix). I’ve never seen Lasota before and no references are given. Do you have any info on it? Here is the Polish wiki link:

    http://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lasota

    It says it was first noted in 1198 while Sylvester was not noted until 1220. It also says that it is the basis for the surname Lasota which is not to be confused with the surname Lassota which is of Scandinavian origin.

    They have a lot of Slavic names listed that I have never heard of but they are difficult to research.

    • Thanks for the link. I read it and that is really interesting. I would have to do further research on this one. Its not listed in any of my Polish name books I have, but many of them only list the more popular Polish given names. But now I am intrigued, but I will have to get back to you on this one.

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