Theodore Name Meaning

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What Does Theodore Mean?

If you’re looking for an enduring name with roots going back to ancient times, then Theodore might be it. The name Theodore is of Greek origin meaning “gift of God” or “divine gift.” The original Greek name Theodoros is a compound of theos (God) and doron (gift). 

It was a relatively prevalent name in the Middle Ages because of its favorable meaning. In the centuries before Christ, notable inventors, mathematicians, philosophers, and rulers were named Theodore.

Though not a Biblical name, Theodore became popular among early Christians of the Eastern Orthodox Church. In the 17th century, the name Theodore dropped in status among English Puritans due to its association with Roman Catholicism.

  • Origin: The name Theodore is of Greek origin meaning “gift of God”
  • Gender: Theodore is most commonly used as a boy name 
  • Pronunciation: thee-uh-dor

Although 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 Theodore?

Theodore has been a popular name since ancient Greek times due to its auspicious meaning. Many early church saints and two Roman Catholic popes bore the name of Theodore. The name endured throughout history and never lost its luster. 

The name Theodore entered the Social Security Administration’s list of top 1,000 names for baby boys in 1900 as No. 61, the year data was first made available. It remained in the top 100 until 1945. After that point, Theodore started to decrease in popularity but never got close to dropping off the list. The name Theodore dipped down to its lowest ranking in 1999 as No. 314.

However, it made a quick turnaround and in the last ten years, has shot back up the list. Theodore was ranked as No. 23 in 2020, the most popular it has ever been since its debut on the list.

One of the reasons for the rise in popularity of the name Theodore in the United States during the early part of the century is attributed to Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President. He was also known as the originator of the “teddy bear.” The story goes that while on a hunting trip, President Roosevelt refused to shoot a bear tied up as his kill. The newspapers reported the incident with a caricature of the bear drawn as small and cute. The drawing was soon made into a stuffed toy and named “Teddy’s bear.”

In recent times, the popularity of Theodore follows the growing affinity for vintage names from another era. Parents are choosing names from a grandparents’ generation and making them new again.

Name Variations

The following are variations of the name Theodore:

  • Teodor (Czech)
  • Theodor (Danish)
  • Theodoor (Dutch)
  • Theodorus (Latin)
  • Teodoro (Portuguese)
  • Fyodor (Russian)

Similar Names

Similar sounding names to Theodore:

  • Filmore
  • Ford
  • Jordan
  • Salvadore
  • Thaddeus
  • Thatcher
  • Thor
  • Tor

Other Greek boy names:

  • Adrian
  • Basil
  • Darius
  • Eugene
  • Gregory
  • Griffin
  • Julian
  • Nicholas
  • Sirius

Other boy names that start with T:

  • Taylor
  • Thatcher
  • Thiago
  • Thomas
  • Titus
  • Tobias
  • Trey
  • Tripp
  • Tristan
  • Truman
  • Tyler

Suggested Sibling Names

Looking for a sibling name for Theodore? Here are some popular options:

  • Benjamin
  • Clyde
  • Eleanor
  • Howard
  • Judith
  • Margaret
  • Oliver
  • Pearl
  • Penelope
  • Wallace

Famous People Named Theodore

With such a long history, the name Theodore has ties to both highly regarded historical figures and disreputable ones as well. One of modern America’s most notorious criminals was named Theodore “Ted” Bundy. On the other hand, one of America’s most well-known children’s book authors, who wrote under the pen name of Dr. Seuss, was also named Theodore.

Famous Theodores:

  • Theodor Seuss Geisel, children's author, political cartoonist, illustrator, poet, animator, and filmmaker
  • Theodore “Ted” Nugent, American musician, songwriter, guitarist and activist
  • Theodore “Teddy” Pendergrass, Grammy Award-nominated American singer
  • Theodore “Teddy” Wilson, American jazz pianist
  • Théodore Géricault, French Romantic painter
  • Theodore Huebner Roethke, American poet regarded as one of the most influential poets of his generation
  • Theodore of Tarsus, Archbishop of Canterbury during 668-690
  • Theodore Prodromos, Byzantine Greek writer and poet
  • Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States
  • Theodore Sturgeon, American fiction author of primarily fantasy, science fiction and horror

Fictional Theodores:

  • Theodore “Theo” Huxtable, a character who appeared in the American sitcom “The Cosby Show”
  • Theodore Evelyn Mosby, a character and the protagonist in the American sitcom “How I Met Your Mother”
  • Theodore "T-Bag" Bagwell, character from the American television series “Prison Break” 
  • Theodore Seville, one of the three main protagonists of the animated cartoon franchise “Alvin and the Chipmunks” 
  • Theodore Boone, character in the young "Theodore Boone Mystery" Series from internationally bestselling author John Grisham

More Baby Names

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

1 Source
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  1. Social Security Administration. Popularity of name Theodore.

By Vicky Yip
Vicky is a freelance writer specializing on topics relating to prenatal care, motherhood, parenting, family, and home life. She is also a Senior Contributor for HoustonMoms (City Mom Collective).