Leo Name Meaning

Baby boy


Roger Wright / Getty Images

What Does Leo Mean?

Stemming from the Latin word for lion, the name Leo means the same—lion. In German, it has its own translation, serving as a short version of Leon or Leopold most often and meaning "brave people" or "lion-hearted." As a name with historical uses dating back centuries, it also has an Italian translation: "fierce one from Naples."

In Spain, leo is a holy oil used for anointing in the church. It is also the name of the fifth sign in the astrological zodiac, and there is a constellation named Leo as well.

  • Origin: Leo is the Latin word for lion.
  • Gender: Leo is usually used for boys.
  • Pronunciation: LEE-o (English), LEH-o (German, Danish, Finnish), LEH-yo (Dutch)

Although many baby names are separated by gender, Verywell Family believes that sex does not need to play a role in your name selection process. It’s important to select a name that you feel suits your new baby the best.

How Popular Is the Name Leo?

In 2020, the name Leo took over the highest spot it’s ever held of the most popular baby names. Following a trend of increasing popularity over the last 10 years, it hit the 36th most popular spot, being used for 7159 new births that year.

In the 1920s and 1930s, Leo held some relative popularity, ranking in the top 100 for most of those years. But throughout the mid and late 1900s, it fell in popularity, sinking as low as 486th in 1995.

While the name Leo has most often been used as a boy’s name, it certainly has gender-neutral potential—as all names do. Your child’s gender doesn’t have to dictate the name you give your baby.

Name Variations

Variations of the name Leo are:

  • Leon (Greek)
  • Leonard (German)
  • Leonardo (Italian)
  • Leopold (German)

Similar Names

Other boy names originating from Latin include:

  • Ace
  • Adrian
  • Julian
  • Lucas
  • Oliver
  • Santiago
  • Sebastian
  • Silas
  • Vincent

Other boy names that start with ‘L’ include:

  • Landon
  • Landyn
  • Lane
  • Langston
  • Luca
  • Luis
  • Lorenzo
  • Lonnie

Common Nicknames

There aren't a lot of common nicknames for the name Leo, perhaps because it is often used as a nickname itself for the following names:

  • Leon
  • Leonard
  • Leonardo
  • Leopold

Suggested Sibling Names

Names that sound good paired with Leo include:

  • Alec
  • Chloe
  • Eliza
  • Gavin
  • Levi
  • Lillie
  • Lucy

Famous People Named Leo

Some famous people with the name Leo or variations of it are:

  • Leonardo DiCaprio, actor
  • Leo D. Maloney, actor
  • Leo Penn, a director and father of Sean Penn
  • Leo Tolstoy, author of "Anna Karenina"

More Baby Names

Still searching for the perfect baby name? Check out these related baby name lists for even more options: 

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Social Security Administration. Popularity of the Name Leo. Updated 2020.