Leo Name Meaning

Baby boy

Roger Wright / Getty Images

Stemming from the Latin word for lion, the name Leo dates back centuries. 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."

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 ascended to its highest spot since at least 1900 in the Social Security Administration's list of most popular baby names, coming in at No. 36. The name, which ranked in the 400s for all of the 1990s, has gained popularity each of the past 13 years.

Leo also held some relative popularity in the early part of the 20th century, ranking in the top 100 from 1900 to 1937.

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: 

1 Source
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 names.


By Leah Campbell
Leah Campbell is a full-time parenting and health writer and has written extensively on the topics of infertility, adoption, and parenting. She is a single mom by choice and author of the book "Single Infertile Female."