Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Peter

The name Peter is ultimately derived from the Greek word “pétros” meaning ‘stone, rock.’ The name is borne in the New Testament by one of Christ’s apostles, a fisherman and brother of Andrew (another disciple). Originally called Simon, he was given the nickname Peter or ‘rock’ by Jesus himself (Pétros in Greek and Cephas in Aramaic), and is therefore often referred to as Simon-Peter. In Matthew 16:17-18, Jesus says explicitly “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah!...And I tell you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church.” Clearly, Jesus played favorites and Peter was his main man. Not only Is Peter considered the founder of the Christian Church (the rock upon which it was built), but he is also regarded as the first pope in Roman Catholic tradition since Jesus gave Peter “the keys of the kingdom of heaven.” In fact, it is Saint Peter that Christians expect to meet at the pearly gates of heaven one day. The name Peter has enjoyed enduring popularity since the Middle Ages throughout Europe. Some familiar forms of the name Peter include Pedro in Spanish, Pietro in Italian and Pierre in French.

All About the Baby Name – Peter

Personality

OF THE BOY NAME PETER

The number one personality is a leader - strong and competitive. They are willing to initiate action and take risks. One personalities work hard toward their endeavors and have the ability to apply their creative and innovative thinking skills with strong determination. They believe in their ability to succeed and are too stubborn to be hindered by obstacles. Ones meet obstacles head-on with such mental vigor and energy that you better step aside. They resent taking orders, so don't try telling them what to do either. This is an intensely active personality, but they are also known as starters rather than finishers. They have a propensity to become bored and will move quickly to the next project if not properly challenged.  They are the ones to think up and put into action new and brilliant ideas, but they are not the ones to stick around and manage them. This personality has an enthusiastic and pioneering spirit. They are distinctly original.

Popularity

OF THE BOY NAME PETER

Peter has been a long time favorite boy’s name in the United States. For over 100 years, the name has averaged on the Top 50 list of most-commonly used boy names. It wasn’t until the last 20 years that Peter started to display signs of fatigue on the charts. The stability and constancy it once enjoyed is waning for now. Peter is a time tested name of endurance so we don’t expect it to go very far down the charts. It’s a risk-free choice as a boy’s name and you’d be hard pressed to find a person who doesn’t at least like this name. What’s not to like? The name’s only perceived weakness might be its commonness against the current trend of using other lesser known Biblical names (Ethan, Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Levi, and Josiah). Peter seems crushingly plain against these more exotic choices. However, we will say this. Peter transcends all trends, and you might not be able to say the same for those other names. Peter is strong as a ‘rock’ so we weren’t surprised that the name is associated with the number One in numerology.

Quick Facts

ON PETER

GENDER:

Boy

ORIGIN:

English

NUMBER OF SYLLABLES:

2

RANKING POPULARITY:

208

PRONUNCIATION:

PEE-ter

SIMPLE MEANING:

Stone, rock

Characteristics

OF PETER

Independent

Individualistic

Ambitious

Strong-willed

Inventive

Successful

Cultural References to the Baby Name – Peter

Literary Characters

OF THE BABY NAME PETER

Peter Pan is the immortal “forever-boy” creation of Scottish writer J.M. Barrie. His main appearance was in the 1904 play, Peter Pan, or the Boy Who Would Not Grow Up. Since then he has made his indelible mark on our hearts through countless books, cartoons, stage adaptations, movies, toys, etc. By turns selfishly cocky and generously helpful, Peter is a link between the vagaries of childhood and the necessarily more stable environs of adulthood. He appeals to our sense of imagination, magic and everlasting fun, while at the same time he “warns” us of the fleeting nature of life itself and the need to accept the responsibilities that come with it.

Peter is the oldest of the four Pevensie children who find their way into the magical kingdom of Narnia, in C. S. Lewis’ timeless The Chronicles of Narnia, first introduced in the 1950’s, most notably in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Becoming wartime wards of Professor Kirke, the children (led by Lucy) find their way into the Kingdom of Narnia through the wardrobe door. Peter is an upright young boy who always tries to do the right and brave thing, even when he is in doubt about the veracity of his sister Lucy’s account of the new world she has encountered. Once in Narnia himself, Peter adapts immediately and deports himself responsibly and courageously throughout all their fantastic adventures, eventually becoming High King Peter the Magnificent, and fearlessly battling the forces of evil.

Peter Rabbit is the delightfully humanized hero of the many Beatrix Potter stories, first appearing in 1902 in The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Along with his sisters, Flopsy, Mopsy and Cotton-tail, Peter lives in a people-like-furnished rabbit hole and has various adventures, such as sneaking into Mr. McGregor’s vegetable garden and availing himself of the bounty. Mischievous but well-meaning, Peter has been beloved of children and parents alike for over 100 years, and has been the inspiration for innumerable stories, TV series, movies, toys, dolls and artifacts.

Peter Keating is the antithesis of the hero, Howard Roark, in the Ayn Rand 1943 bestseller, The Fountainhead. Facile and quick, he is able to succeed based not upon his devotion to artistic principle, but on his ability to deliver what pleases others. Indeed, these attributes earn him success, a prestigious partnership, a socially prominent wife, and – you guessed it – a membership in the “I Sold Out Club”. Needless to say, he reaps the rewards of his folly and falls ignominiously from grace. (Nice ride while it lasted, though.)

Wendy Darling is the oldest of the three Darling children in J. M. Barrie’s well-known, oft performed and beloved 1904 play, “Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up”, as well as his 1911 novel, “Peter Pan and Wendy”. Wendy and her two younger brothers, John and Michael, live in London, where they are visited by the boy who never grew up, Peter Pan. Peter teaches them how to fly and leads them all across the night sky to Never Land. Wendy is a conventional, good little Edwardian girl who honors her parents and loves her little brothers, but she has an unfulfilled wish never to grow up, to remain a girl forever. Who better to befriend her than Peter, the forever boy? Peter introduces the Darling children to all the frights and delights of Never Land, and hopes to keep them (especially Wendy) there with him. Ironically, it is Wendy who finds her path to natural adulthood through these adventures, discovering that while it is to be cherished, childhood is also to be left behind in the natural order of things. Wendy mothers the Lost Boys of Never Land, and tends to them with loving care. It is obvious that she also harbors an innocent love for Peter. Ultimately, however, Wendy realizes the inevitability of maturing, growing and accepting responsibility, all the while maintaining a vestige of the magical powers of childhood. With a mixture of reluctance and anticipation, Wendy decides to return with her brothers to reality, to embrace what is to come but never to forget what has been.

Popular Songs

ON PETER

Where To Now St. Peter?
a song by Elton John

The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead
a song by XTC

Peter's Denial
a song from the musical Jesus Christ Superstar

Peter Piper
a song by Run DMC

Peter Gunn
a guitar version by Jimi Hendrix

Peter Bazooka
a song by The Dead Milkmen

My Friend Peter
a song by Alkaline Trio [explicit]

In search of Peter Pan
a song by Kate Bush

Black Peter
a song by the The Grateful Dead

Famous People

NAMED PETER

Peter Cetera (musician)
Peter Coyote (actor)
Peter Falk (actor)
Peter Fonda (actor)
Peter Frampton (musician)
Peter Gabriel (musician)
Peter Gallagher (actor)
Peter Jennings (newscaster)
Peter O'Toole (actor)
Peter Stastny (hockey player)
Peter Thomson (golfer)
Peter Abrahams (novelist)
Peter Arnett (journalist)
Peter Benchley (author)
Peter “Pete” Rose (baseball player)
Peter the Great (Russian Tsar)

Children of Famous People

NAMED PETER

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

Historic Figures

WITH THE NAME PETER

Born Pyotr Alekseyevich in Moscow, Russia, Peter was the fourteenth child of Tsar Alexis by his second wife, Natalya. Peter inherited the sovereignty along with his older half-brother Ivan from Alexis’ first marriage. Since Peter was only 10 years old, his mother served as regent. When Ivan died in 1696, Peter was officially declared Sovereign of all Russia. Now, in the late 17th century, Russia was not exactly a superpower. Peter inherited a nation that was extremely underdeveloped compared to the culturally and economically prosperous European countries. While the Renaissance and the Reformation swept through Europe, Russia rejected westernization and remained isolated from modernization. Peter would change all that. During his reign, the far-sighted Peter implemented extensive social, economic and military reforms for the purpose of establishing Russia as a great nation. He modernized the church, the schools, scientific advancement. He massively modernized Russia’s army and navy. He also localized government, expanded the Empire and gained access to the Black Sea. In the end, this brilliant (if autocratic and temperamental) leader managed to establish Russia as a major European power and his city, St. Petersburg, was considered a “window to Europe.”