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PronouncedPron.PEE-tər English
PE-tu German
PAY-tər Dutch
PE-tər DanishSlovene
PE-ter Slovak

Meaning & History

Derived from the Greek Πετρος (Petros) meaning "stone". This is a translation used in most versions of the New Testament of the name Cephas, meaning "stone" in Aramaic, which was given to the apostle Simon by Jesus (compare Matthew 16:18 and John 1:42). Simon Peter was the most prominent of the apostles during Jesus' ministry and is often considered the first pope.

Due to the renown of the apostle, this name became common throughout the Christian world (in various spellings). In England the Normans introduced it in the Old French form Piers, which was gradually replaced by the spelling Peter starting in the 15th century.

Besides the apostle, other saints by this name include the 11th-century reformer Saint Peter Damian and the 13th-century preacher Saint Peter Martyr. It was also borne by rulers of Aragon, Portugal, and Russia, including the Russian tsar Peter the Great (1672-1725), who defeated Sweden in the Great Northern War. Famous fictional bearers include Peter Rabbit from Beatrix Potter's children's books, and Peter Pan, the boy who refused to grow up in J. M. Barrie's 1904 play.
VariantsPiers English (British) Petrus German Petrus, Pieter, Pier Dutch Peder, Petter Swedish Peder, Petter Norwegian Peder Danish
DiminutivesPete English Piet Dutch Peer, Pehr, Pelle, Per Swedish Peer, Per Norwegian Peer, Per Danish
Feminine FormsPeta English (Australian) Petra, Petrina English Petra Dutch Petra Swedish Petra Slovene Petra Slovak
Other Languages & CulturesPjetër Albanian Botros, Boutros, Butrus Arabic Bedros, Petros Armenian Peru, Petri, Peio Basque Petros Biblical Greek Petrus Biblical Latin Per, Perig, Pierrick Breton Petar, Penko Bulgarian Pere Catalan Botros, Boutros, Butrus Coptic Petru Corsican Petar, Pejo, Perica, Pero Croatian Petr, Péťa, Peťa, Petřík Czech Petro Esperanto Peeter Estonian Petur Faroese Petri, Petteri, Pietari, Pekka Finnish Pierre, Pierrick French Pitter Frisian Petre Georgian Petros Greek Bitrus Hausa Pika Hawaiian Péter, Peti Hungarian Pétur Icelandic Peadar, Piaras Irish Pietro, Pier, Pierino, Piero Italian Pitter, Pit Limburgish Petras Lithuanian Petar, Petre, Pece, Pero Macedonian Petera Maori Piers Medieval French Petruccio Medieval Italian Pièrre Norman Pèire Occitan Piotr Polish Pedro, Pedrinho Portuguese Petre, Petru, Petrică Romanian Pyotr, Petia, Petya Russian Pedru Sardinian Peadar Scottish Petar, Pejo, Perica, Pero Serbian Pedro Spanish Petro Ukrainian Pedr Welsh
Same SpellingPéter


Icon depicting Saint PeterIcon depicting Saint Peter

Sources & References

  • Elizabeth Gidley Withycombe, The Oxford Dictionary of English Christian Names (1945)


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Entry updated December 8, 2017   Contribute