What Does The Name Oscar Mean? Know Its Meaning And Origin

What Does The Name Oscar Mean

Image: Shutterstock

From an invented Irish legend to the castles of Europe and to the name of one of the most prestigious Hollywood awards, the name Oscar has enjoyed phenomenal success, and is a long-standing favorite. It sounds decidedly vintage, yet extremely wearable. And, today MomJunction is going to understand all about the name Oscar. So, do read on.

Oscar Name Meaning:

Oscar derives from the Gaelic elements ‘os’, which means deer and ‘cara,’ which means ‘loved’ or ‘friend.’ So Oscar means, ‘deer friend.’ In Scandinavia, the elements ‘os’ and ‘gear’ means ‘god’s spear.’

McCusker, the surname, originated as the Anglicized form of Irish word Mac Oscar. The surname originated either from Oscar or from Asgeirr, which itself is composed of the elements, meaning ‘god-spear.’

[ Read: British Baby Names ]

Oscar Name Origin And History:

Is Oscar An Irish Name?

It may surprise you, but Oscar is actually an Irish name, and not Scandinavian, as it is believed to be. The name is derived from the Irish mythology. Oscar, the celebrated warrior, was the son of poet Oisin and the grandson of Fionn Mac Cumhaill. Oisin’s mother was transformed into a fawn by a Druid, leading Oisin to be reared in the wild until the age of seven, when his father finds him. Later, Oisin marries the daughter of a sea god, and they produced Oscar. Oscar proves himself to be a brave and mighty warrior until he meets death in battle. It’s said that his Oscar’s death was the only time where his grandfather ever cried.

The name spread throughout Europe in the 18th century, all thanks to James Macpherson, the Scottish poet who published works covering the deeds of the Irish heroes in what he referred to as the Fenian Cycle of Irish mythology. His works were extremely popular and widely read, and slightly controversial too, since Macpherson claimed that he took them directly from the ancient Gaelic manuscript believed to have been written by one of the heroes himself.

Napoleon Bonaparte was such a huge fan of the epic written by James Macpherson that he named his godson Oscar. The little boy eventually went on to become the Oscar 1 King of Norway and Sweden in 1844, thereby cementing this moniker as one of the favorite with the Scandinavians.

[ Read: Irish Baby Names ]

Is Oscar A Mexican Name?

No, Oscar is not a Mexican name. But in recent decades, the name Oscar has gone from pan-European to a Mexican favorite. Wondering why? The name was already rising in popularity when Oscar De La Hoya, the Mexican-American boxer won a gold medal at Barcelona Olympics in 1992, and De La Hoya further popularized the name.

Best Middle Names To Go With Oscar:

1. Alexander:

We think Oscar Alexander sounds great. The name Alexander has been in the top 25 since the year 1991 and still sits pretty in the top 10 list. There are plenty of spin-offs of this name too, like Zan, Xan, Zander and Alex. The meaning of Alexander is ‘defender of man’.

2. Thomas:

Thomas would also make a great middle name for Oscar. It is one of the most common and used classic names in both United States and England and is given to more than 7,000 Americans every year. The meaning of Thomas is ‘twin’.

3. Bennett:

Oscar Bennett sounds really unique, robust and manly. Bennett is the medieval form of Benedict and means ‘blessed’. This name is a cross between Benjamin and Beckett. And it’s also one of the fastest-rising baby boy names. It has jumped from #362 to #155 in the last seven years. And there’s a possibility it could move even higher.

4. Zachariah:

Some people like to use Biblical names as the middle name. Zachariah, we think, would sound great with Oscar. Yes, it does feel a bit ancient, but with the rise of Biblical names like Elijah and Jeremiah, even Zachariah deserves a second chance. Its Latin-Greek form, Zacharias would sound exotic.

5. Frederick:

This one’s for the Germans out there. Oscar, along with Frederick sounds Germanic to us. What about you? Frederick was once only restricted to Flintstone and Mr. Rogers, but parents now recognize it as a strong, classic name. Frederick Douglass, the African-American political activist who rose from slavery to power, is its greatest bearer.

[ Read: Unique Nicknames For Babies ]

6. William:

If you want out and out, a traditional name for your son, combine Oscar with William. William is one of the most lasting classic names. It stands at the 5th spot, exactly where it was two years ago. The reason behind its popularity is that it sounds both conservative yet contemporary.

7. Cameron:

Oscar Cameron has a lovely ring to it. Cameron is actually a popular Scottish surname, but sounds great as a middle name. This name took off in the 1990s, reaching a 33rd spot in the year 2000. Cameron is still one of the top 20 names in Scotland. But it’s literal meaning (crooked nose) could be a put-off.

8. Logan:

Oscar Logan is another excellent option for you. Logan is also a cheerful and bright Scottish surname, originated from the name of a place in Ayrshire. The name has climbed steadily since the mid-80s. It was one of the top 20 names from the year 2006 to 2011. It did fall slightly, but is now back at #15. Needless to say, Logan is highly famous in its native country, Scotland.

9. James:

This one’s our favorite. It seems that Oscar and James were made for each other. This classic, Anglo-Saxon name sound more popular and stylish even today. This name is biblical, royal, presidential and borne by several great writers and entertainers. In fact, James recently took the 1st spot in America’s most favorite baby boy names.

10. Edmund:

The combination of Edmund and Oscar sounds quintessentially British. Edmund sounds identical to its French twin Edmond and Edward. There’s a certain nobleness in it. Even John Keats said, “Had my name been Edmund, I would have been more fortunate.” This name has an enviable history too. Its famous bearers include Edmund Spenser, Edmund Halley, Edmund Hillary and Edmund Kean.

[ Read: Funny Baby Names ]

List Of Popular Nicknames For Oscar:

1. Osqui:

We absolutely adore this nickname. And it’s one of the least typical Oscar nicknames.

2. Okko:

Okko may sound Japanese, but would make a cute nickname for your son, particularly during his preschool years.

3. Ossie:

You can also consider Ossie as a nickname for Oscar. It’s actually a short form of Oswald, but would go with Ossie too!

4. Ozzy:

Ozzy Osborne might not be the ideal role model for everyone, but as a nickname, it would make a relatively cool pick.

[ Read: Unique Ways To Choose Popular Baby Names ]

Names Similar To/Like Oscar:

1. Óscar:

Óscar is the Portuguese and Spanish version of this name.

2. Oskar:

Oskar is the German, Polish, Icelandic, Slovene and Scandinavian form of Oscar.

3. Oskari:

Oskari is the Finnish form of Oscar. It is pronounced as OS-kah-ree. Osku is the short form of Oskari.

[ Read: Ancient Indian Baby Names ]

4. Oszkár:

Oszkár is the Hungarian form of Oscar.

5. Oskars:

Oskars is the Latvian form of Oscar.

6. Oscarito:

Oscarito is also a variation of Oscar. Its origin is unknown.

7. Osquitar:

Osquitar is an exotic variant of Oscar, and one of the most elaborate variations of this name.

How Popular Is The Name Oscar?

Oscar, as a moniker is considered one of the classics in America. Around one century ago, between the years 1880 and 1925, Oscar was the top pick for little boys. The lowest level of its usage was experienced in 1960. But since the early 1970s, the name has been bouncing back slowly. It hasn’t been able to make to the Top 100 list, but we can say, and pretty surely, that it is headed that way. Here is how Oscar fared on the American baby names lists:


Interestingly, the name Oscar is driven by the Hispanic-American population. Some people add an accent mark over the ‘O’ and pronounce it as Oh-skar.

In Sweden, Oscar is the third most popular baby boy name. Oskar, on the other hand, ranked 51 in terms of most popular male names.

The Portuguese, Germans, French, Swedes and Spanish, all got their name from the same country, Ireland. Now that does not happen too often.

Popularity Details:

England and Wales8
The United States183
New Zealand30
the Netherlands124
Northern Ireland24

Famous Oscar Name Bearers:

Famous People Named Oscar:

1. Oscar Wilde:

Oscar Wilde is the most notable bearer of this name. He was an Irish poet, novelist, and playwright, best known for his work “The Importance of Being Earnest.” But more than that, he was and still is famous for his witty epigrams. Even during his days at the Oxford University, he was famous with his university fellows for his eccentric personality. Oscar Wilde was also an acquaintance of the French symbolist poet, Stephane Mallarme. In the year, 1895, Oscar Wilde was put on trial and was later imprisoned for homosexuality.

[ Read: Serbian Baby Names ]

2. Oskar Schindler:

Oscar Schindler is renowned for his heroism during the Second World War when he saved hundreds of Jews in Czechoslovakia and Poland by employing them in his factory. He was born in 1908 as the son of a mill owner and homemaker. His growth into adulthood coincided with the rise of Hitler’s party. In the year 1935, Oskar was guilty of joining a pro-Nazi group, but that was for a pragmatic business reason. After the invasion of Germany into Poland, this shrewd businessman arrived in Krakow, looking to profit from the situation. He made friends with the Nazi officers by offering them tobacco and alcohol and eventually purchased the kitchen factory, which had gone bankrupt. He employed a Jewish account, and hired Jewish laborers, using his company to prevent the deportation of these people to the concentration camps. “Schindler’s List,” a movie based on the life of Oskar Schindler, went on to bag the Academy Award for Best Picture.

3. Oscar Isaac:

Oscar Isaac, full name Óscar Isaac Hernández Estrada is an American musician and actor. He is best known for his role in the comedy-drama “Inside Llewyn Davis,” for which he was also nominated for the Golden Globe Awards. “Ex Machina” and “A Most Violent Year” are other famous words of Oscar Isaac. But his popularity increased manifold after his appearance in the seventh “Star Wars” films, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”.

4. Oscar de la Renta:

Óscar Aristides Renta Fiallo, better known as Oscar de la Renta was a renowned Dominican fashion designer. He became famous internationally in the 60s as one of the couturiers who dressed Jacqueline Kennedy. In the 90s and early 2000s, he designed the haute couture collection for Balmain. Even after his death, his fashion house continues to dress leading figures, from royalty to film stars.

5. Oscar Niemeyer:

Oscar Ribeiro de Almeida Niemeyer Soares Filho, better known as Oscar Niemeyer, was a Brazilian architect considered one of the important figures in the modern architecture development. He is best known for civic building designs for Brasilia, which became Brazil’s capital in the year 1960. Niemeyer also coordinated with other architects on the United Nations Headquarters.

Famous Athletes Named Oscar:

1. Oscar Gamble:

Oscar Charles Gamble was the form hitter and outfielder in Major League Baseball. He played 17 seasons in his career spanning from the years 1969 to 1985. He hit over 200 career home runs in 9000 major league at bats. Gamble’s career peaked in 1977 when he hit his career-best 19 runs with Rangers and Yankees. He is also known for sporting the Afro atop his head.

2. Oscar Pistorius:

Oscar Pistorius is the most well-known Paralympic athlete in the world. He was the first amputee athlete to compete in the Olympics. Both of his legs below the knees were amputated when he was 11 months. After winning the Paralympic, he attempted to enter the able-bodied competition, but the IAAF objected his participation. Unfortunately, he committed homicide and the reputation as Blade Runner tarnished.

[ Read: Interesting Celebrity Baby Names ]

3. Oscar De La Hoya:

Oscar De La Hoya, the Golden Boy, is one of the best boxers of the modern era. He won the gold medal at the Barcelona Olympics shortly after graduating from school. As a professional, this esteemed boxer won 10 world titles and defeated 20 world champions. Oscar De La Hoya is also the first Mexican American to be the proprietor of the national boxing promotional firm. He took on the promotional responsibilities while still being active. He finished his career in 2009 with a record of 30 knockouts. He took home ten world titles in six different weight classes.

4. Oscar:

Oscar dos Santos Emboaba Júnior, better known as Oscar, is a professional footballer, midfielder, in the Brazil National Team and at English Club Chelsea. This young player represented his country at the 2012 London Olympics at Under-20 level and FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2011. His name follows the Portuguese naming customs. His maternal family or first name is dos Santo and his paternal or second family name is Emboaba.

5. Oscar Charleston:

As a center fielder in the Negro League, Charleston proved himself as one of the greatest black players of the pre-integration era. He is renowned for the home runs, high batting averages, and stolen bases. Charleston also managed to be in the Negro League for his terrific play. In fact, he’s in the Baseball Hall of Fame, despite never coaching, playing or umpiring even a single MLB game.

6. Oscar Robertson:

Oscar Robertson, nicknamed the ‘Big O’ is one of the greatest basketball players of all time. In the NBA, his average was a double-trouble, an accomplishment exclusive only to him. He’s an 11-time member of all NBA teams, 1-time All-Star, and one-time winner of the MVP award. Robertson is the key player who brought the Bucks their only NBA title. Besides, he’s also a Hall of Famer.

Famous Characters Named Oscar:

1. Oscar The Grouch:

We’re sure most of you must be aware of Oscar the Grouch, the adorable Muppet character from the “Sesame Street”. Created by brilliant Jim Henson, Oscar is a misanthropic, grumpy, trash can-dwelling green muppet who gather meaningless garbage and displays them throughout his appearances. He is also known to practice random acts of kindness, but those are rare. Instead, Oscar serves as a foil to teach kids the importance of respect, compassion, and tolerance for others.

[ Read: Baby Names Inspired By Artists ]

2. Oscar Martinez:

Oscar Juan Paul Martinez is a character from the American television series, “The Office’. Played by Oscar Nunez (another Oscar), Martinez was one of the few openly gay characters on the show. He plays an accountant at the Scranton in Pennsylvania, an office of the paper distribution company. He is an efficient, rational and an intellectual worker.

3. Oscar Bluth:

Oscar Bluth from “Arrested Development” is George Bluth’s identical twin brother. He is portrayed by Jeffrey Tambor and appeared in the 26 episodes of the series. The sole difference between the Bluth brothers is Oscar’s long hair. Oscar Bluth is a burnout who lived in a trailer on the lemon until and Lucille Bluth, his former lover, rekindled their romance and moved into the Balboa Towers in Mexico.

4. Oskar Matzerath:

Oscar Matzerath is the protagonist of the novel and film “The Tin Drum”. The movie won the Academy Award for the Best Foreign Language Film and Palme d’Or Award. The story revolves around the protagonists and narrator Oskar Matzerath, who writes his memoirs from the years 1952 to 1954, appearing as a zeitgeist through the historical milestones.

The Oscar Award:

This glistening golden statue of the Academy Awards, named Oscar, signifies conviction, talent and the desire to win. The Academy Award was presented for the first time in 1929. But it adopted the name, rather title Oscar, in 1939 and has been synonymous with the award ever since. There’s a lot of debate and discussions revolving around how this award got its name. Some people credit it to Bette Davis. Some opine that Walt Disney referred to the award as Oscar in 1932. Some even say that it was named after a long-time employee of the Academy. The Academy librarian and executive director Margaret Herrick thought that the award resembled her Uncle Oscar, so the staff started referring it to as Oscar.

[ Read: Popular Baby Names From Around The World ]

Is Oscar A Good Name?

Yes, Oscar is definitely one of the greatest names of all time. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that Oscar is a culture spanning name. It feels both current and classic and is loaded with an intense and symbolic meaning. Oscar both strong and masculine, just like the Irish warrior, and cute and charming, like a little deer. So if you are looking for a name with a rich history and that’s still on trend, without leaping up the popularity charts, Oscar must be considered.

Would you consider the name Oscar for your child? Share your opinion with us in the comment section below.

Recommended Articles:

The following two tabs change content below.
Featured Image