It's obvious that these names are related, but to me they seem more like estranged cousins than twin brothers. Leonard has variations that are all over the map culturally and with a large range in popularity.
The historic reach of both names is quite extensive. Leonard is the German name that started it all. This is evidenced by the Saint Leonard of Noblac, a noble of the 5th century. His charitable work focused on prisoners, and with the permission of the monarch Clovis, he had the power to set free any prisoner he deemed worthy. He is patron saint of prisoners.
Leonard saw its greatest peak in American popularity in the 1920s. But since then, it has been steadily declining as the sound of the name has less appeal. The name Leonard is still apparent everywhere, however. Case-in-point: the nerdy-cool character Leonard on The Big Bang Theory, whose geeky status is upgraded a little by his ability to almost get the girl. You may also be familiar with Leonard as a surname.
Leonardo is the Italian form, most famously borne by Leonardo da Vinci and most recently revived by Leonardo DiCaprio. Da Vinci is best known for his masterful painting, though his inventions and general scientific genius earned him much fame as well. In fact, the very reason DiCaprio has this name is due to da Vinci.
Variations & Popularity
Below I've included the most popular variations along with ranking, followed by lesser-used variations and nicknames.
- Leonardo, ranked at 170
- Leo, ranked at 227
- Leon, ranked at 502
- Leonard, ranked at 621
Len, Lenny, Lonke, Leontes, Linke, Lonnie or Lonny.
|Celebrities Named Leonard|
Leonard "Lenny" Kravitz, rock singer/songwriter
Leonard Nimoy, actor
Leonard Cohen, Canadian poet and songwriter
Leonard Bernstein, composer and conductor
Leonard Chess, record company executive
|Celebrities Named Leonardo|
Leonardo DiCaprio, actor
Leonardo Nam, actor
Leonardo Azzaro, tennis player
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Orlando, Raphael, Sebastian