A popular male name throughout the Christian world, it is derived from the Greek Χριστόφορος, which is composed of the elements, χριστός (khristós), meaning, “anointed one” or in this case, just “Christ” and φέρειν (phérein), meaning, “to carry.”
The name caught on in the early Middle Ages after the legends of a Saint of the same name became a widespread cult, according to the legend, the name was borne by a giant who carried the Christ child across a river. He is considered the patron saint of travellers and is still revered as a popular saint in both the Eastern Churches and the Roman Catholic Church.
As of 2008, Christopher was the 9th most popular male name in the United States. Between 1979-1994, he was the 2nd most popular male name. The lowest he has ranked in U.S. naming history was in 1931, when he came in as the 360th most popular male name.
The name has always been quite common in Central and Northern Europe.
His rankings in other countries are as follows:
- # 53 (Australia, 2007)
- # 65 (Canada, B.C., 2008)
- # 94 (England/Wales, 2008)
- # 155 (Germany, 2009)
- # 61 (Ireland, 2007)
- # 18 (Poland, Warsaw, 2009)
- # 52 (Scotland, 2008)
- # 99 (Sweden, 2008)
Other forms include:
- Kristofor (Albanian)
- Krystafer كريستوفر (Arabic: used among Middle Eastern Christian)
- Khrystafor Хрыстафор (Belarusian)
- Kristof (Breton)
- Khristofor/Hristofor Христофор (Bulgarian)
- Cristòfol (Catalan)
- Cristofanu (Corsican)
- Kristofor (Croatian)
- Kryštof (Czech)
- Christoffer/Christopher/Kristoffer (Danish)
- Christoffel/Christoforus (Dutch)
- Christophe (Dutch/French)
- Christof/Kristof (Estonian)
- Tohver/Tohvri (Estonian)
- Kristofer/Risto (Finnish)
- Christoph/Christof (German)
- Khristóphoros Χριστόφορος (Greek: Modern)
- Kristóf/Krisztofer (Hungarian)
- Kristófer (Icelandic)
- Críostóir (Irish-Gaelic)
- Cristofaro/Cristofero (Italian)
- Cristofalo/Cristofolo (Italian)
- Cristofano (Italian)
- Cristoforo (Italian: most common form)
- Christophorus (Latin)
- Kristaps/Kristofs (Latvian)
- Kristoforas/Kristupas (Lithuanian)
- Christopher/Kristoffer (Norwegian)
- Krzysztof (Polish)
- Cristóvão (Portuguese)
- Christof/Christofor (Romanian)
- Khristofor Христофор (Russian/Serbian/Ukrainian)
- Cristolu (Sardinian)
- Kester (Scottish)
- Krištof (Slovak/Slovene)
- Kito (Sorbian)
- Cristóbal (Spanish)
- Christoffer/Kristoffer (Swedish)
- Kristof (Turkish)
- Krishtof Криштоф (Ukrainian)
- Cristoforo (Venetian)
Common English diminutives are Chip, Chris, Christy, Kip, Kit and Topher.
German diminutives are Stoffel and Stoffi.
Polish diminutives are: Krzysiek, Krzysiu, Krzyś, Krzysio, Krzysiaczek, Krzych and Krzychu.
An Italian feminine form is Cristofora and an obscure French/German feminine form is Christophine. Another obscure feminine form is the Polish, Krzysztofa.
Notable bearers include: Christopher Columbus (1451-1506), three Danish Kings which include Christoffer of Bavaria, English playwright, Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593) and the fictional character, Christopher Robin, of Winnie-the-Pooh books.