Leander of Seville
Leander of Seville (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He’s a ancient appellation with a romance language spin.

Thanks to Lindsey for suggesting a name she’s considering.  Our Baby Name of the Day is Leandro.

Leander feels like a sleeper name – part-Leo and part-Alexander, suggesting that Leander should be far more popular.

Only he isn’t.  Leander was given to about four dozen boys in 2011, and just a few more boys the year before.  The story is similar in the 1980s, 70s, and 60s.

In Greek myth, Leander fell in love with Hero, a virgin priestess to Aphrodite who lived alone in a tower.  Leander wooed the lonely Hero, reaching her haven by swimming across the Hellespont every night.  But one stormy evening Leander miscalculated, and drowned en route to see his love.  Distraught, Hero leaped from the tower to her death, too.  So it is something of a Romeo and Juliet story, though not as well known.

Leandro is the Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese version of the name.

If Leander is stagnating, Leandro is having a decent run.  He’s hovering just inside the US Top 1000 at #835 as of 2011.  He’s more elaborate than Leo, but not quite as extravagant as Leonardo.  Like most of the Leo- names, he traces back to lion.  Andros means man, so Leandro is a lion of a man.

A handful of those baby boys might be named after Saint Leandro.  He was bishop of Seville in the sixth century and gets credit for converting two Visigoth kings to Christianity.  But he’s usually recorded as Leander in English.

San Leandro, California is located on the San Francisco Bay.  It’s named after the saint, by way of San Leandro Creek and Rancho San Leandro, a land grant made in 1842 by the Mexican government.

Other uses that might strike a chord:

  • Sixteenth century artist Leandro Bassano was a noted artist.
  • Ero e Leandro is Handel’s opera, in Italian, about the myth.
  • Leandro Alem was a nineteenth century Argentine politician and radical reformer.

The name must have had a good run in Brazil and Argentina in the 1970s and 80s, judging by the number of athletes and other public figures answering to the name today.  It is possible that makes Leandro sound like a dad name to modern parents, but to an English-speaking audience, Leandro is fresh.

Interestingly, he makes the Top Ten list of most popular names for German-speaking Swiss parents as recently as 2010.

But how would he wear in the US circa 2013?

Signs point to Leandro fitting right in.

We’re rather fond of ends-with-o for boys, and while most are two syllable, plenty of them are longer.  There’s starbaby staple Matteo or Mateo, Snooki’s Lorenzo and a host of Spanish-language staples, from Dora’s cousin Diego to Antonio, Santiago and Alejandro.

Stylish nickname Leo feels like the obvious short form, but there are other possibilities.  Lee, of course.  Possibly Andy.  And for something really dazzling, how about Xandro?

Overall, Leandro seems like a stylish rarity.  He has history aplenty, and might be the perfect choice for parents after something upbeat and different without being too out there.Enhanced by Zemanta

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. My wife and I named our son Leandro in July 2012. We love the name! I am Portuguese/Canadian and she is Greek/Canadian so the name Leandro was a perfect fit for both our cultures and back-round.

    This is a very nice write-up of the name Leandro! Thanks for that!

  2. We considered Leandro once, but we ended up having a girl. We wanted names with one pronunciation in English and Spanish, though, so I had my doubts about using Leandro. I love how it looks written down, and I love the Spanish pronunciation, but I don’t really like how most people would say it in English (lee-ANN-dro, with the middle syllable just like in Leander). I think it’s a very handsome name though, and possibly a great bicultural one too if you don’t mind the two pronunciations (or don’t mind correcting people often).