Saturday, November 3, 2012

Diverted by a Name: Thiago


It was announced recently that Barcelona soccer star Lionel Messi and his girlfriend Antonella Roccuzzo had a baby boy, Thiago. I was immediately diverted. What a fabulous name!

According to Behind the Name, Thiago is a variant of Tiago, which is the Portuguese form of James (derived from Santiago). Messi is from Argentina, where Thiago was ranked #6 in 2011 (Santiago was ranked #2). It's interesting that the name is so popular in Argentina, where they speak Spanish, and not as much in Brazil, where they speak Portuguese (Thiago ranked #33 in Brazil in 2011). Santiago is also a Spanish form of James, but Diego, Jaime and Jacobo are other options. In Spain, where Thiago Messi was born, Diego was #9, Jaime was #45, and Santiago was #70 (2010 rankings).

Wikipedia says that Thiago is "only used in Brazil" and is the "Brazilian anglicized spelling" of the name. I guess it crossed the border into Argentina in recent years. Famous Thiagos include Thiago Silva the fighter, Thiago Silva the footballer, and Thiago Alves the martial arts, all from Brazil, as well as Thiago Motta the footballer born in Brazil but of Italian decent.

James is one of my favorite names, and many of its variants are great names as well. Besides Thiago, there is Séamus from Ireland, Iago from Wales, Giacomo/Jacopo from Italy, and Yakov from Russia (with Yasha as a nickname). Others include Jacob from the English and similarly Jakob from Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia, Sweden and Jakub from Belarus, Bosnia, Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia (the Js in those names are generally pronounced with a Y sound).

What do you think of Thiago? Do you prefer it or another variant of James?



  1. we had a good family friend growing up named Thiago (from Brasil, of course!)

  2. I quite like it; it's very handsome. It's also very popular at the moment in Portugal (the Tiago spelling). My mother tells me that it is slightly old fashioned, as it is the name of one of the apostles in Portuguese.


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