Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Oscar

Occasionally our research turns up information that surprises us. It doesn’t happen often, but it happened with Oscar. We were very surprised to learn that Oscar is actually an Irish name; probably like you, we were under the impression that it had Scandinavian roots. Nope. It’s Gaelic. The name is derived from Irish mythology and spread throughout Europe in the 18th century thanks to the Scottish poet James Macpherson who published an epic work covering the deeds of Irish heroes in what is referred to as the Fenian Cycle of Irish mythology. These works were extremely popular, widely read, and very controversial since Macpherson claimed they came directly from an ancient Gaelic manuscript he uncovered and said to be written by one of the heroes himself. Napoleon Bonaparte was such an enthusiastic fan of the epic, he named his godson Oscar. That boy would eventually become Oscar I King of Sweden and Norway in 1844, thus cementing the name Oscar as a favorite among Scandinavians. But it all started with Oscar, celebrated warrior in Irish mythology, son to the poet Oisín, and grandson to Fionn mac Cumhaill, the leader of the Fianna (hunter-warriors). The Gaelic word “os” means ‘deer’ and “cara” means ‘friend, loved’ – the associations comes from Oscar’s father, Oisín, in reference to the legend that his mother (Oscar’s grandmother) was transformed into a fawn by an evil druid so Oisín was reared in the wild until the age of seven when his father (Finn mac Cumhaill) finds him. Oisín marries the daughter of a sea god, and they produce Oscar – whose name means ‘little dear or beloved of deer’ – and he proves himself a mighty and brave warrior until his unexpected death in battle. It is said that Oscar’s death was the only time his grandfather ever cried. We also might mention that the anglicized version of Fionn mac Cumhaill is “Finn Mac Cool” – so Oscar is descended from the Mac Cools – how cool is that? In Scandinavia, the elements “os” + “ger” mean ‘god’s spear’ which worked out nicely once they adopted the name for themselves. It’s been used as a forename outside of Ireland since the 1800s all thanks again to James Macpherson.

All About the Baby Name – Oscar

Personality

OF THE BOY NAME OSCAR

The Number 2 personality in numerology is all about cooperation and balance. It's the number of diplomats and mediators. They are not leaders, but strive rather for harmony in partnerships. These are the peacemakers. Equality and fairness are important in their dealings, and they are willing to share power and responsibility to achieve a harmonious outcome. This personality is calm and patient, waiting for things to evolve instead of pushing aggressively for an outcome. They are good-natured and easy-going, and care deeply on an emotional and spiritual plane. Twos appreciate beauty and nature and are intent on making the world a better place.

Popularity

OF THE BOY NAME OSCAR

The name Oscar could be considered a classic in America. Over 100 years ago between 1880 and 1925, the name was a top choice for little boys. Its lowest levels of usage were experienced in the 1960s, but since the early 70s, Oscar has been bouncing back ever so slowly. It still has not reclaimed a spot on the Top 100 list, but it may be headed that way. Interestingly, like the Russian/Slavic name Iván, the current success of the traditionally Irish/Scandinavian name Oscar is actually being driven by the Hispanic-American population. The name is generally rendered with an accent mark over the “O” like Óscar and pronounced more like OH-skar. The Spanish, Portuguese, French, Germans, and Swedes all got the name from the same place: Ireland. Not often does that happen. Oscar is thus a complex and colorful choice in a boy’s name loaded with symbolic meaning. It’s both strong and masculine (like the Irish warrior); and charming and cute (like the little deer).

Quick Facts

ON OSCAR

GENDER:

Boy

ORIGIN:

Celtic

NUMBER OF SYLLABLES:

2

RANKING POPULARITY:

178

PRONUNCIATION:

AHS-ker or OH-skar

SIMPLE MEANING:

Little deer, beloved of deer, god's spear

Characteristics

OF OSCAR

Cooperative

Considerate

Compassionate

Nurturing

Sensitive

Patient

Loving

Kind

Gracious

Balanced

Cultural References to the Baby Name – Oscar

Literary Characters

OF THE BABY NAME OSCAR

Lucinda is a one half of the title characters in Australian writer Peter Carey’s 1988 novel, Oscar and Lucinda, which was also made into a 1997 film with Cate Blanchett as Lucinda. She is a young Australian heiress who is headstrong and independent, with a strange love for glass (she owns a glass works) and a penchant for gambling (not exactly the Victorian woman’s usual mode of entertainment). This alone puts her rather outside the normal boundaries of society, so she seems a perfect partner for the equally marginalized Oscar, the young Anglican aqua-phobic minister who is likewise a gambler. Indeed, their shared quirkiness brings them together, with glass and water both playing a huge part in their shared destiny. Lucinda takes the biggest gamble of her life on Oscar, and he on her, with consequences worthy of their larger-than-life individual natures.

Ok, so not exactly a literary character, we know. But how can we not mention Oscar the Grouch? Oscar is one of the Muppet characters on the beloved children’s program Sesame Street, and created by the brilliantly imaginative Jim Henson. Oscar is the grumpy, misanthropic, trash-can-dwelling green Muppet who hordes meaningless garbage and displays his grouchy disposition throughout his appearances. He has been known to practice random acts of kindness, but they are rare. Rather, he serves as a foil to teach children the importance of kindness and respect, and in particular, tolerance for others.

Popular Songs

ON OSCAR

Oscar the Angel
a song by Randy Travis

Famous People

NAMED OSCAR

Oscar I of Sweden (king of Sweden and Norway)
Oscar II of Sweden (king of Sweden and Norway)
Oscar De La Hoya (boxer)
Oscar de la Renta (fashion designer)
Oscar Levant (pianist/composer/actor)
Oscar Robertson (basketball player)
Óscar Romero (martyred priest)
Oskar Schindler (German industrialist who saved his Jewish workers from the Holocaust)
Oscar Traynor (former commander of the Dublin brigade IRA)
Óscar Villarreal (baseball player)
Oscar Wilde (Irish writer and poet)
Oscar Charleston (baseball player)
Oscar Arias Sanchez (Nobel Prize winner, peace)
Oscar (soccer player)

Children of Famous People

NAMED OSCAR

We cannot find any children of famous people with the first name Oscar

Historic Figures

WITH THE NAME OSCAR

We cannot find any historically significant people with the first name Oscar