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Oscar Name Meaning: Origin, Popularity & Nicknames

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

Oscar Overview

  • Meaning: Oscar means friend of deer in Irish and God of the spear in Old Norse.
  • Gender: Oscar is a traditionally masculine name.
  • Origin: Oscar is widely considered to have Irish origins, specifically from the Fenian Cycle of Irish Mythology. However, some attribute it to Old Norse, and it was popularized in Scandinavia.
  • Pronunciation: Oscar is pronounced, “AH-sker.”
  • Popularity:
  • Nicknames: Ozzie, Ollie, Oscari
  • Variations: Oskar (Scandinavian, German, Eastern European), Oszkár (Hungarian), Oskari (Finnish)
  • Namesakes: Oscar Wilde, Óscar Isaac, Óscar de la Renta.

What Does Oscar Mean?

Oscar, often spelled Oskar, is a popular name in Europe and the United States. Many say that the name has Irish origins, while some attribute it to Old Norse. The Irish origin is the most commonly accepted answer, but its popularity in Northern Europe lends credibility to the Norse version.

In Irish, the name derives from two different Irish roots. The first, os, means “deer,” and the second, car, means “friend.” So, the literal translation is a friend of deer.

The Old Norse origin also comes from two words. The name is the cognate Ásgeirr, which comes from one of the Norse words for god and the word for spear.

What Is the Origin of the Name Oscar?

The name Oscar was popularized by a character with the same name in the Fenian Cycle of Irish Mythology (1). Oscar is the grandson of Fionn mac Cumhail, one of the most revered warriors and musicians of Irish Folklore, and the son of Oisín, considered in legends to be the greatest Irish poet ever.

The Norse history of the name connects to the Irish one. Scottish poet James Macpherson wrote of Oscars in his epic poems. Napoleon was a fan of the poet and gave the nickname to his godson Joseph Bernadotte, later known as Oscar I, King of Sweden (2). Since then, almost a dozen members of the royal house of Sweden have been given the name.

How Popular Is the Name Oscar?

Oscar has consistently ranked in the top 200 boys’ names in the United States for the last twenty years (3). It peaked at number 117 in 2005. It is even more prevalent in Northern Europe and was the third most popular Swedish name in 2013.

How Do I Pronounce Oscar?

In the United States, Oscar is pronounced “AH-sker.” However, many European variations have slightly different accents and emphases.

Is Oscar a Boy or Girl Name?

Oscar is traditionally a masculine name.

Variations of Oscar

Oscar has several regional variations spanning multiple languages, including:

  • Oskar (Scandinavian, German, Eastern European)
  • Óskar (Icelandic)
  • Oskari (Finnish)
  • Oszkár (Hungarian)
  • Óscar (Spanish)
  • Oskars (Latvian)
  • Osgar (Scottish Gaelic)

Nicknames for Oscar

Because Oscar is a short and traditional O name for boys, there are not many common nicknames. However, some less common ones include:

  • Ollie
  • Ossie
  • Oscari
  • Oz
  • Ozzy

Similar Names to Oscar

If you are looking for names similar to Oscar, here are some great examples. Notably, some of them also have Irish and North European origins.

Middle Names for Oscar

Oscar goes well with many different middle names. Here are some good candidate middle names based on both the sounds and the number of syllables.

  • Abraham
  • Benjamin
  • Craig
  • Cormac
  • Emmanuel
  • Hemming
  • Ian
  • Jude
  • Olaf
  • Randolph
  • Ronald
  • Thurmond
  • Simon
  • William
  • Zacharias

Sibling Names for Oscar

There are many excellent choices for sibling names to consider if you already have a child named Oscar.

For a brother:

For a sister:

Famous People Named Oscar

There have been many famous people named Oscar over the centuries, including:

  • Oscar Wilde: Legendary Irish playwright and novelist famous for The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Importance of Being Ernest.
  • Óscar Isaac: Latino-American actor who has starred in movies such as Dune,Ex Machina, and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
  • Óscar de la Renta: World-renowned Dominican fashion designer whose luxury fashion label is sold worldwide.
  • Oscar Hammerstein II: American composer and writer famous as part of the Broadway composing duo Rodgers and Hammerstein, whose musicals include The King and I, South Pacific, Oklahoma!, and The Sound of Music.
  • Oscar “Ossie” Schectman: American basketball player with the New York Knicks who scored the first ever basket in an NBA game.
  • Oscar Luigi Scalfaro: Italian politician who served as the president of Italy from 1992-1999.

Oscar in Popular Culture

As a popular name across the globe, Oscar has inspired a broad range of fictional characters:

  • Oscar the Grouch: One of the most recognizable Muppets on Sesame Street who lives in a trash can.
  • Oscar Bluth: One of the main characters on the hit TV show Arrested Development. He is played by Jeffrey Tambor.
  • Oskar Eriksson: Protagonist in the Swedish vampire novel and subsequent movie Let the Right One In.
  • Oscar Martinez: Major character in the classic American sitcom The Office.

Oscar FAQs

There are always more interesting things to learn about a name. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions pertaining to the name Oscar.

Is the Name Oscar in the Bible?

No. While Oscar is a popular name amongst Christians, this is because of its geographic origins. The name Oscar originates in Irish Mythology rather than the Bible.

How Old Is the Name Oscar?

The name Oscar originates from an Irish Mythological character that was spoken about in the 16th century. However, it was popularized by the poet James Macpherson in the 18th century.

Is Oscar a Classic Name?

One could consider Oscar a classic American male name. Although it has lost some of its popularity, it was in the top 50 American boys’ names from 1880-1925.

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