Gender: Masculine
Origin: Latin
Meaning: “lion.”
Eng (LEE-oh)

The name comes directly from the Latin, leo, meaning, “lion.”

Its usage as a given name became popular among Christians after the ascent of Pope Saint Leo the Great (circ. 4th-century CE). It was borne by 12 other popes thereafter.

Leo was also a popular name among the Byzantine Emperors being borne by six.

Leo is also the name of a constellation as well as the 5th sign in the zodiac.

The highest Leo ever ranked in U.S. naming history was in 1903, coming in as the 37th most popular male name. As of 2011, he was the 167th most popular male name in the United States. His rankings in other countries are as follows:

  • # 4 (Finland, 2011)
  • # 4 (Léo, France, 2010)
  • # 14 (Sweden, 2011)
  • # 36 (England/Wales, 2010)
  • # 37 (Croatia, 2009)
  • # 42 (Austria, 2010)
  • # 42 (New Zealand, 2010)
  • # 59 (Scotland, 2010)
  • # 61 (Norway, 2011)
  • # 64 (Catalonia, 2010)
  • # 65 (Australia, NSW, 2011)
  • # 79 (Slovenia, 2010)
  • # 80 (Spain, 2010)
  • # 96 (Ireland, 2010)

Leo is used in about every European country. Other forms of the name include:

  • L”v Лъв (Bulgarian)
  • Leo Лео (Catalan/Croatian/Dutch/English/Estonian/Finnish/German/Italian/Latvian/Portuguese/Romansch/Russian/Scandinavian/Slovene/Spanish)
  • Leoš (Czech)
  • Lev Лев (Czech/Russian)
  • Léo (French)
  • Leó (Hungarian)
  • Lew (Polish)


Gender: Masculine
Origin: Arabic أسد
Meaning: “lion.”

The name comes from one of the many Arabic words denoting the aspect of the lion. It was used as a title for Ali (599-661). The name seems to be pre-Islamic in origin as it was the name of the maternal grandfather of Ali: Asad ibn Hashim.

Currently, its Turkic form of Esad is the 499th most popular male name in Germany, (2011).

Another form of the name includes:

  • Esad (Albanian/Bosnian/Turkish).


Luan Santana

Gender: Masculine
Origin: Albanian
Meaning: “lion.”
(LOO-ahn). Br Portuguese (loo-AHN)

The name comes from the Albanian word for lion and for whatever reason is also a very popular name in Brazil.

Its popularity in Brazil is a mystery but may be due to the fact that it sounds similar to the Portuguese word for moon, lua. In any case, according to Baby Center Brazil, it is the 58th most popular male name in Brazil (2010).

A feminine form is Luana, which is currently a very popular name in Albania, Romania and  Switzerland.

The name is borne by several famous Brazilians, including soccer player, Luan Andrade Santana (b.1988), soccer player Luan Michel Louza (b.1988) and pop singer Luan Santana (b.1991).


Gender: Masculine
Origin: Greek
Meaning: “lion man.”

The name is from the Greek, Leandros (Λεανδρος), which is composed of the elements, leon (lion) and andros (man).

The name is found in the Byzantine romance Hero & Leander which recounts the star crossed tale of two early Greek lovers. Hero was a priestess of Aphrodite who lived in a tower in the European side of the Dardanelles, while Leander lived just across the strait in Abydos. The two fell in love and Leander would swim his way across the Hellespont just to be with Hero. One night, a horrible storm struck the sea and Leander perished. In grief, Hero threw herself from the tower and died.

The name was also borne by a 6th-century Spanish bishop and saint.

Currently, Leander is the 39th most popular male name in Norway, (2010). His popularity in other countries are as follows:

  • # 44 (Argentina, Leandro, 2009)
  • # 149 (Germany, 2011)
  • # 169 (France, Léandre, 2009)
  • # 256 (France, Leandro, 2009)
  • # 447 (the Netherlands, 2010)
  • # 808 (United States, Leandro, 2010)

Other forms of the name include:

  • Leandre (Catalan)
  • Leander еандер ( Dutch/English/Finnish/German/Hungarian/Polish/Russian/Scandinavian/Slovene)
  • Léandre (French)
  • Leandros Λεανδρος (Greek)
  • Leandro (Italian/Portuguese/Spanish)
  • Leandrosz (Hungarian)

A feminine version is Leandra, used in Greece, German-speaking countries, Spanish-speaking countries and Portuguese-speaking countries.


Gender: Masculine
Origin: French
Meaning: “lion”
Eng (LIE-e-NEL); Fre (LEE-oh-NEL)

Perhaps originally an old French diminutive form of Léon, the name is found in Arthurian legend as the name of one of the Knights of the Round Table.  Lionel is the son of King Bors and the brother of Evaine. When king Claudas kills Bors, Lionel and his brother are rescued by the Lady of the Lake and raised in her underwater kingdom.

Currently, Lionel is the 899th most popular male name in the United States, (2010).

Another form of the name is the Croatian and Spanish, Leonel. As of 2009 Leonel was the 55th most popular male name in Argentina.

The name is borne by Lionel Richie (b.1949)



The name can have a few derivations and meanings depending on the ethnic background of the bearer. In Hebrew, it is the word for lion  אֲרִי, Lev, its Russian counterpart, was a popular cognate among Eastern European Jews.

In Albanian it means “gold” and is a common element that appears in many traditional Albanian names.

It is a common Badaga male name, (Badaga is a dialect of Kannada, an Indian language) and it means “sun-like”, it is often anglicized as Harry.

In Finnish and Estonian it was originally used as a form of Adrian and also used as a borrowing from the Old Norse, (see below).

Among Greeks, it is the modern form of the mythological name, Ares, meaning “best”, though commonly used as an independent given name it is also used as a short form of Aristostle.

In Armenian it means brave Արի, and it is also an Old Norse name meaning “eagle.”

Currently, Ari is the 502nd most popular male name in the United States, (2010).

In recent years, Entourage has brought this name to the forefront as the name of one of the key characters.

It is also borne by the husband of Princess Märtha Louise of Norway, Ari Behn (b.1972).

Other notable bearers include:

  • Ari Þorgilsson (Iceland’s foremost Medieval Chronicler 1067-1158)
  • RabbiIsaac Luria (1534–1572), Jewish rabbinical scholar and mystic known also as Ari
  • Ari Emmanuel (brother of Chicago Mayor, Rahm Emmanuel and a famous American talent agent)
  • Ari Fleischer (b.1960, U.S. press secretary for George W. Bush).


  1. http://www.behindthename.com/name/ari-1
  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ari_(name)


Gender: Masculine
Origin: Biblical Hebrew
Meaning: “lion of God.”
Eng (Air-ee-el): Mod Heb (AHR-ee-EL)

The name is from the Biblical Hebrew, meaning “lion of God” and is found in the Old Testament as another name for the city of Jerusalem.

In Jewish and Christian apocrypha, it is also the name of an archangel, believed to be the angel who has authority over the Earth and its elements.

As a given name, it has been used by Jews, exclusively as a masculine name for centuries. It has only been in recent years, most notably, following the release of Walt Disney’s, the Little Mermaid (1989), that is has been given to females.

As a male name, it was the 556th most popular male name in the United States (2009), while for females it was the 206th most popular (2009).

In 2006, Ariel was the 78th most popular male name in Chile.

Shakespeare used this name for one of his characters in his play, The Tempest (1611).

Other forms of the name include:

Ariel (Catalan/English/French/German/Hebrew/Hungarian/Polish/Spanish)
Ariël (Dutch)

Feminine forms include:

Ariëlle (Dutch)
Arielle (French)
Ariela (German/Modern Hebrew/Polish/Spanish)
Ariella (Italian)

Hebrew short forms for the masculine version include: Ari and Arik.

A Polish diminutive form is Arielka.

Other notable bearers include: Ariel Sharon, former Israeli Prime Minister (b.1928); Polish soccer player, Ariel Jakubowski (b.1977); Polish Soccer Player, Ariel Borysiuk (b.1991); Argentine writer, Ariel Dorfman (b.1948); Mexican soap actor, Ariel López Padilla (b.1962); Argentine soccer player, Ariel Ortega (b.1974).

The designated name-day is October 1 (France).


  1. http://www.behindthename.com/name/ariel

Leonie, Léonie, Leona, Leon

Origin: Greek
Meaning: “lion.”
(Eng: lee-OWE-nee; lee-OWE-nuh); Germ (LE-o-nee); Fre (lay-o-NEE)
(Eng: lee-ON; Germ LE-own; Fre (lay-OWn)

Leonie is currently a very popular name in the German-speaking countries, she ranked in at # 1 Austria (2008), she was the 3rd most popular in Germany (2009), the 4th most popular in Liechtenstein (2009) and the 4th most popular female name in all of Switzerland (2008).

In France, she ranked in at # 67 (2006) and at # 251 in the Netherlands (2008) and has yet to hit the U.S. top 1000.

The name Leonie is from the French feminine name, Léonie, which is a French form of the Latinate, Leona, a feminine form of the Greek male name Leon, which comes directly from the Greek word for “lion.”

The name was borne by several saints, which sparked the popularity for both the male and female forms.

In the United States, Leon ranked in as the 501st most popular male name, the highest he peaked in the United States was in 1921, coming in as the 74th most popular male name. In other countries, his rankings are as follows:

  • # 62 (England/Wales, 2008)
  • # 75 (Ireland, 2007)
  • # 184 (the Netherlands, 2008)
  • # 39 (Norway, 2007)
  • # 62 (Scotland, 2008)
  • # 35 (Slovenia, 2005)
  • # 56 (Sweden, 2007)
  • # 2 (Switzerland, 2008)

Lionel is an old French diminutive form that is now exclusively used as an independent given name.

The Latin for of Leo is a cognate, a name which I shall dedicate a separate entry to in another installment.

Other forms of the male form include:

  • Levon (Armenian)
  • Léon (French)
  • Leonius (Late Latin)
  • Leonas (Lithuanian)
  • Leone (Italian)
  • Liun (Romansch)
  • León (Spanish)

Feminine forms include:

  • Leona (English/Italian/Polish/Spanish)
  • Léonie (French)
  • Léonne (French)
  • Leonie (German)
  • Leonia (Late Latin)

Designated name-day for Leonie is January 10 (Germany).


Bella_jan_levoslavGender: Masculine
Origin: Czech/Slovak
Meaning: “li0n glory.”

The name is composed of the Old Slavonic elements lev meaning “lion” and slav meaning “glory.” Its designated name-day is October 2. Feminine form is Levoslava. The name was borne by Slovak composer Ján Levoslav Bella (1843-1936)