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Alexander Name Meaning: Origin, Popularity & Nicknames

Learn about the name Alexander including the meaning, gender, origin, popularity, and more.

Alexander Overview

  • Meaning: Alexander is a name that was originally Greek and means “Protector of men.”
  • Gender: While there are several female variations on the name Alexander, it is a name that continues to be attributed to boys rather than girls.
  • Origin: Alexander comes from the Greek “Alexandros.” The Romans borrowed and Latinized it, first as an attribute of the goddess Hera, but later as a name for men, too.
  • Pronunciation: The most common is “AL-ex-AND-er.”
  • Popularity: Alexander is a very popular name. Currently, it is in the top ten names for boys born in North America.
  • Nicknames: Al, Alec, Alex, Sandy, Xander.
  • Variations: Alasdair (Scottish Gaelic), Alejandro (Spanish), Aleksander (Czech, Polish), Aleksandr (Russian), Alessandro (Italian).
  • Namesakes: Alexandros of Ilion, Alexander the Great, Alexander Aigner, Alexander Graham Bell, Alexander Ludwig.

Alexander is a name that has endured for centuries. It suits children of all ages and offers parents lots of variation. But what does Alexander mean? And where does it come from?

What Does Alexander Mean?

The name Alexander is a compound of two Greek words: “Aléxien” and “Andros.” The verb “aléxien” means “to defend.” Other possible translations include “protect,” “ward off,” “avert,” or “deter”. Meanwhile, “andros” is the genitive form singular of “ander,” which equates to “of men”.

Together, they combine to give the name Alexander, meaning “defender of men.”

This is appropriate since many Grecian Alexanders went on to be excellent military strategists.

What Is the Origin of the Name Alexander?

Alexander is of Greek origin. That explains why some of its most famous bearers hail from Greece.

In Greek, Alexander takes a genitive masculine ending. When written phonetically in the Roman alphabet, it is spelled Alexandros.

Alexander is the Latinate version of the name. The Romans saw no reason to reinvent the wheel and unapologetically borrowed Alexander into their roster of names for men of the time.

It is also a biblical name, which makes it ideal for parents that want a less-overt biblical name for their child. Alexander was a relative of Annas, and Christians remember him as the son of Simon of Cyrene, who carried the Cross for Christ.

How Popular Is the Name Alexander?

In the United States, the name exploded in popularity in 1977 when it became one of the top 100 names for babies. But because of the late rise of Alexander, when looking at the 1970s in context, Alexander lags behind other names.

Despite this, Alexander remains a very popular name. At present, it ranks number 45 on a list of most popular names in the last 100 years.

It was one of the top five names for babies in 2009. And, at present, it ranks within the top ten names for boys (1).

How Do I Pronounce Alexander?

Surprisingly, there’s not a lot of variety in terms of pronunciation. Written phonetically, you pronounce Alexander as “AL-ex-AND-er.”

Typically, the stress falls on the first and third syllables. However, this varies depending on the language. The original Greek, for instance, would have stressed the third syllable and de-emphasized the fourth.

This pattern is ongoing in other European languages, like French. That language often stresses the second syllable, whereas many North Americans emphasize the first.

Is Alexander a Boy or Girl Name?

Alexander is a boy’s name and has been throughout history. However, it has several feminine equivalents. The best known are Alexandra and Alexandria.

Interestingly, while Alexander is a boys’ name, the feminine alternatives predate it, especially as a Latinized name. That’s because one of Hera’s many titles in the pantheon was as a defender of warriors. She does this most famously in Homer’s “Iliad”.

What’s interesting is that it’s not just Hera who gets this title in the “Iliad.” Paris also becomes “Alexander” (or “defender of men”) for protecting the Trojans from the Greek Army.

Variations of Alexander

As evidenced by the romanizing of what was originally a Greek name, there are all kinds of variations:

  • Alasdair (Scottish Gaelic)
  • Alejandro (Spanish)
  • Aleksander (Czech, Polish)
  • Aleksandr (Russian)
  • Alessandro (Italian)
  • Alexandre (French)
  • Alexandros (Greek)
  • Alexei (Russian)
  • Alsander (Irish)

Nicknames for Alexander

Just as there are many variations, there are also many ways to shorten Alexander. Some popular nicknames include:

Similar Names to Alexander

There are also many names that, while not as prevalent as Alexander, share similar meanings or characteristics. Some of these include:

Middle Names for Alexander

Various middle names work well with Alexander. Some of the most popular are:

Sibling Names for Alexander

When it comes to sibling names for Alexander, parents once again have options, like:

For brothers:

For sisters:

Famous People Named Alexander

History is full of famous people named Alexander and they stretch from antiquity to the present day. Some of the most famous examples include:

  • Alexandros of Ilion: Better known as Paris of Troy, he was the Trojan Hero who shot Achilles in the ankle.
  • Alexander the Great: A prominent Greek military strategist and pupil of Aristotle who conquered vast amounts of land for the kingdom of Macedon.
  • Alexander Aigner: Austrian mathematician.
  • Alexander Graham Bell: Scottish inventor of the first telephone.
  • Alexander Ludwig: Canadian actor.

Alexander in Popular Culture

It’s not just history that’s rife with Alexanders. Popular culture has its share, too:

  • Alexander Luthor Jr: Comic book character who features in DC’s “Crisis on Infinite Earth”series.
  • Alexander Peabody: Character in “Bringing Up Baby.”
  • Alexander Persvet (Sasha): Fictional representation of a real-life monk in the novel “The Bear and the Nightingale.”
  • Alex Rider: Character in a series of novels by Anthony Horowitz.
  • Alexander Waverly: Character in TV show “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”

Alexander FAQs

Here are some commonly asked questions about the name Alexander.

Who Is the Most Famous Alexander?

While Alexander Graham Bell is famous in his own right, Alexander the Great is arguably legendary. He’s still considered one of the greatest military generals. There are still places named after him, while he is also a frequent figure in popular culture.

Are There Cities Named After Alexander?

Yes! The most notable is Alexandria, in Egypt. Other places include Iskandariya in Iraq and İskenderun in Turkey.

Is Alexander a Classic Name?

The name is a classic. After all, it’s been around for thousands of years. While some might see it as formal or refined, that doesn’t have to be the case.

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