[ 2 syll. pe-ter, pet-er ] The baby boy name Peter is pronounced as PIY-TahR in English, PEY-TahR in Dutch, or PEH-TehR in German and Slovak †. Peter is used chiefly in the Dutch, English, German, Hungarian, and Scandinavian languages, and its origin is Old Greek. Cephas (Aramaic), Cephus (Aramaic), Petros (Old Greek), and Petrus (Latin) are older forms of Peter. The name is derived via the Latin form Petrus, from the Old Greek Petros, itself of the element 'petros' (meaning rock, stone). The name was borne by Peter, the most notable of the apostles; before he was given the name by Jesus, possibly to distinguish him from another apostle similarly named, he was known as Simon. The original form of the name given to him was the Aramaic Cephas or Kephas, and in the Bible Jesus alluded to the meaning that Peter shall be the 'rock' on which the church would be built.
The name was popular in the Middle Ages, and was borne by several saints and popes. In the Domesday Book, the name was recorded as the Latin Petrus; the modern form Peter became widely used by the 14th century. The name declined in popularity after the Reformation, due to its association with the papacy. It later saw a revival at the start of the 20th century, from the fictional main character Peter Rabbit in Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Peter Rabbit (1902) and the subsequent books in the popular series. Another fictional character which boosted the adoption of the name was J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan, which debuted in the stage play Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up (1904), and later appeared in the novel Peter and Wendy (1911). The name Petra (English, German, Hungarian, Polish, and Spanish) and the name Petronia (German) are the female forms of Peter.
The name Peter is used to a great extent; it has 111 variants that are used in English and other languages. Variants used in English include Panayiotis, Parkins, Parkinson, Patch, Peadar (also used in Irish and Scottish), Pearce, Peat, Peate, Peater, Peddyr, Peder (also used in Scandinavian), Pedr (also used in Welsh), Pedro (also used in Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish), Peers, Peirce, Peiter, Perez (also used in Spanish), Perion, Perkin, Perrin, Petenka, Peterka, Peterke, Peterson, Peterus, Petey, Petie, Peto, Petroc, and Petrov. The contraction Pete is another English variant.
Foreign variants of Peter include Bedros (Armenian), Boutros (Arabic), Butrus (Arabic), Ferris (Irish), Panos (Greek), Par (Scandinavian), Pär (Scandinavian), Peadair (Scottish), Peader (Gaelic), Pedrin (Spanish), Peer (Dutch and German), Peet (Estonian), Peeter (Estonian), Pekelo (Hawaiian), Pekka (Finnish), Pelle (Scandinavian), Pequin (Spanish), Per (Dutch, German, and Scandinavian), Pere (Catalan), Perequin (Spanish), Perico (Spanish), Perka (Russian), Pero (Italian and Slavic), Petar (Romanian and Slavic), Peteris (Latvian), Petinka (Russian), Petr (Czech, Russian, and Slavic), Petras (Lithuanian), Petre (Romanian), and Petrelis (Lithuanian). Specific foreign variants include the contractions Pit (German) and Pitt (German), and the diminutive forms Peidearan (Scottish), Perry (French), Pet'ka (Czech), Petrícek (Czech), Petrík (Czech), Petrousek (Czech), Petulka (Czech), Petunka (Czech), Petya (Russian), Pét'a (Czech), and Takis (Greek).
Peter is a classic favorite. At present it is still popular as a baby name for boys, though it was in more widespread use previously. At the height of its usage in 1957, 0.529% of baby boys were given the name Peter. It ranked at #37 then. The baby name has since experienced a fall in popularity, and it is of occasional use in recent years. In 2016, its usage was only 0.095% and its ranking #207, but it was nonetheless the most popular within all boy names in its group. In 2016, Peter was twice as popular as the next ranked name, Pedro.
† Pronunciation for Peter: P as in "pea (P.IY)" ; IY as in "eat (IY.T)" ; T as in "tee (T.IY)" ; AH as in "mud (M.AH.D)" ; R as in "race (R.EY.S)" ; EY as in "ate (EY.T)" ; EH as in "ebb (EH.B)"
Details of famous persons named Peter:
Actor Peter Berg, born 11 March 1964, New York, New York.
Actor Jeremy Brett, born Peter Jeremy William Huggins, 3 November 1933 - 12 September 1995, Warwickshire, England.
Actor Peter Fonda, born 23 February 1939, New York, New York.
Actor Peter Lawford, born Peter Sydney Ernest Aylen, 7 September 1923 - 24 December 1984, London, England.
Actor Peter O'Toole, born 2 August 1932, Leeds, England.
Actor Peter Sellers, born 8 September 1925 - 24 July 1980, Southsea, Hampshire, England.
Actor Peter Ustinov, born 16 April 1921 - 28 March 2004, London, England.
Artist Peter Paul Rubens, born 28 June 1577 - 30 May 1640, Siegen, Westphalia.
Composer Peter Tchaikovsky, born Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, 7 May 1840 - 6 November 1893, Votkinsk, Russia.
Filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich, born 30 July 1939, Kingston, New York.