Leonidas

Gender: Masculine
Origin: Greek Λεωνιδας
Meaning: “lion.”
Eng (lee-o-NYE-dus)

The name is derived from the Greek λεων (leon) meaning “lion.”

The name was borne by several famous leaders in Classical Greek history, one being King Leonidas I of Sparta, known for his heroic defense of the Thermopylae Pass from the Persians in the 5th-century B.C.E. His life has been the inspiration of Frank Miller’s 1988 comic 300, later adapted into a movie of the same name. He came to be deified in Sparta as a hero god. A Belgian Chocolate company is also named in his honour and he is the inspiration for their logo.

The name was also borne a teacher of Alexander the Great and by the father of Origen, St. Leonidas (3rd-century CE).

Leonidas seems to have enjoyed some popularity in 18th and 19th-century America and England. This may have been due to the epic eponymous poem based on the Spartan hero, written by Richard Glover (1737).

In more recent history, it was borne by Confederate general, Leonidas Polk (1806-1864) and the first modern Greek Olympic gold medalist, Leonidas Pyrgos (*1871).

Currently, Leonidas is the 282nd most popular male name in Germany, (2011) and the 922nd most popular in the United States, (2010).

Other forms of the name include:

  • Leonit (Albanian)
  • Ljeanid Леанід (Belarusian)
  • Leònides (Catalan)
  • Leonida (Croatian/Italian/Serbian)
  • Leónidás (Czech)
  • Leonidas Λεωνιδας (English/German/Greek/Lithuanian/Romanian)
  • Léonide (French)
  • Leonidasi ლეონიდასი (Georgian)
  • Leoneidas (German)
  • Leonides (German)
  • Leónidasz (Hungarian)
  • Leonīds (Latvian)
  • Leonid Леонид (Macedonian/Polish/Russian/Ukrainian)
  • Leónidas (Portuguese-European)
  • Leônidas (Portuguese-Brazilian)
  • Leónidas (Spanish)
A feminine form is Leonida, occassionally used in Spanish-speaking countries, Greece and Poland.
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