christopher

Last name origin & meaning:

English: from a medieval personal name which ostensibly means ‘bearer of Christ’, Latin Christopherus, Greek Khristophoros, from Khristos ‘Christ’. Compare Christian + -pher-, -phor- ‘carry’. This was borne by a rather obscure 3rd-century martyred saint. His name was relatively common among early Christians, who desired to bear Christ metaphorically with them in their daily lives. Subsequently, the name was explained by a folk etymology according to which the saint carried the infant Christ across a ford and so became the patron saint of travelers. In this guise he was enormously popular in the Middle Ages, and many inns were named with the sign of St. Christopher. In some instances the surname may have derived originally from residence at or association with such an inn. As an American family name, Christopher has absorbed cognates from other continental European languages. (For forms, see Hanks and Hodges 1988.)

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