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Meaning & History

From the Roman family name Paulus, which meant "small" or "humble" in Latin. Paul was an important leader of the early Christian church. According to Acts in the New Testament, he was a Jewish Roman citizen who converted to Christianity after the resurrected Jesus appeared to him. After this he travelled the eastern Mediterranean as a missionary. His original Hebrew name was Saul. Many of the epistles in the New Testament were authored by him.

Due to the renown of Saint Paul the name became common among early Christians. It was borne by a number of other early saints and six popes. In England it was relatively rare during the Middle Ages, but became more frequent beginning in the 17th century. A notable bearer was the American Revolutionary War figure Paul Revere (1735-1818), who warned of the advance of the British army. Famous bearers in the art world include the French impressionists Paul Cezanne (1839-1906) and Paul Gauguin (1848-1903), and the Swiss expressionist Paul Klee (1879-1940). It is borne by British musician Paul McCartney (1942-). This is also the name of the legendary American lumberjack Paul Bunyan.
VariantsPauwel Dutch Pål Swedish Pål Norwegian Poul Danish
DiminutivesPaulie English Palle Danish
Feminine FormsPaula English Paule French Paula German Paula Dutch Paula Swedish Paula Norwegian Paula Danish Paula Romanian
Other Languages & CulturesPal, Pali, Pavli Albanian Paulus Ancient Roman Boulos, Bulus Arabic Boghos, Poghos Armenian Paulos Biblical Greek Paulus Biblical Latin Paol Breton Pavel Bulgarian Pau, Pol Catalan Paulu Corsican Pavao, Pavle, Pavo Croatian Pavel Czech Paŭlo, Paĉjo Esperanto Paavo Estonian Páll Faroese Paavali, Pauli, Paavo Finnish Paulo Galician Pavle Georgian Pavlos Greek Pál Hungarian Páll Icelandic Pól Irish Paolo Italian Pāvils Latvian Paulius Lithuanian Pavle, Pavel Macedonian Paora Maori Pau Occitan Paweł Polish Paulo, Paulinho Portuguese Pavel, Pasha Russian Pàulu Sardinian Pàl, Pòl Scottish Pavle Serbian Pavol Slovak Pavel Slovene Pablo Spanish Pavlo Ukrainian


Saint Paul by El Greco (1614)Saint Paul by El Greco (1614)


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Entry updated July 2, 2017   Contribute