A theophoric name (from Greek: θεόφορος, theophoros, literally "bearing or carrying a god") embeds the word equivalent of 'god' or God's name in a person's name, reflecting something about the character of the person so named in relation to that deity. For example, names embedding Apollo, such as Apollonios or Apollodorus, existed in Greek antiquity.
Theophoric personal names, containing the name of a god in whose care the individual is entrusted (or a generic word for god), were also exceedingly common in the ancient Near East and Mesopotamia. Some names of theophoric origin remain common today, such as Theodore (theo-, "god"; -dore, origin of word compound in Greek: doron, "gift"; hence "God's gift"; in Greek: Theodoros) or less recognisably as Jonathan (from Hebrew Yonatan/Yehonatan, meaning "Yahweh has given").
Some Christian saints have polytheistic theophoric names (such as Saint Dionysius, Saint Mercurius, Saint Saturninus, Saint Hermes, Saint Martin of Tours, Saint Demetrius of Thessaloniki,).
Rarely, Germanic names contain the element Wod (such as Woðu-riðe), potentially pointing to an association with the god Odin. In connection, numerous names containing wulf "wolf" have been taken as totemistic, expressing association with Odin in the earliest period, although -ulf degenerated into a mere suffix from an early time (Förstemann 1856).
The personal names of almost all gods and goddesses of various deities from the polytheistic Hindu pantheon are considered common and traditional names for people from region. Many traditional Hindu names are in fact from various names or epithets of Hindu gods or goddesses. This is in addition to compound theophoric names using the name of a deity in addition to possessive qualifiers.
Brahma, the Hindu creator god, is one of the only deities of the pantheon whose name is rarely if ever used as a personal name or as a base for theophoric personal names.
Some seemingly theophoric names, may in fact be more related to the original etymology of the deity's name itself. For example, both Lakshmi and Lakshman are names of a deity and an avatar respectively, which are both derived from the etymological root Laksh meaning goal or aim, which in itself is also a valid personal name.
Further information: List of Arabic theophoric names
See also: Allah
Main article: Theophory in the Bible
Much Hebrew theophory occurs in the Bible, particularly in the Old Testament. The most prominent theophory involves
In later times, as the conflict between Yahwism and the more popular pagan practices became increasingly intense, these names were censored and Baal was replaced with Bosheth, meaning shameful one. However the name Yahweh does not appear in theophoric names until the time of Joshua, and for the most part is very rare until the time of King Saul, when it began to be very popular.
See also: El (deity)
The name of the Israelite deity YHWH (usually shortened to Yah or Yahu, and Yeho or Yo) appears as a prefix or suffix in many theophoric names of the First Temple Period. For example, Yirme-yahu (Jeremiah), Yesha-yahu (Isaiah), Netan-yah, Yedid-yah, Adoni-yah, Nekhem-yah, Yeho-natan (Jonathan), Yeho-chanan (John), Yeho-shua (Joshua), Yeho-tzedek, Zekharya (Zechariah).
"Yahū" or "Yah" is the abbreviation of YHWH when used as a suffix in Hebrew names; as a prefix it appears as "Yehō-", or "Yo". It was formerly thought to be abbreviated from the Masoretic pronunciation "Yehovah". There is an opinion that, as Yahweh is likely an imperfective verb form, "Yahu" is its corresponding preterite or jussive short form: compare yiŝtahaweh (imperfective), yiŝtáhû (preterit or jussive short form) = "do obeisance".
In the table below, 13 theophoric names with "Yeho" have corresponding forms where the letters eh have been omitted. There is a theory by Christian Ginsburg that this is due to Hebrew scribes omitting the "h", changing Jeho (יְהוֹ) into Jo (יוֹ), to make the start of "Yeho-" names not sound like an attempt to pronounce the Divine Name.
|Strong's #||the name||other element||English conventional form|
|long form||short form||long form||short form||long form||short form|
|3059||3099||יְהוֹאָחָז||Yᵉho'achaz||יוֹאָחָז||Yo'achaz||achaz [# 270]||Jehoahaz||Joahaz|
|3060||3101||יְהוֹאָש||Yᵉho'ash||יוֹאָש||Yo'ash||'esh [# 784]||Jehoash||Joash|
|3075||3107||יְהוֹזָבָד||Yᵉhozabad||יוֹזָבָד||Yozabad||zabad [# 2064]||Jehozabad||Jozabad|
|3076||3110||יְהוֹחָנָן||Yᵉhowchanan||יוֹחָנָן||Yochanan||chanan [# 2603]||Yehochanan||Jochanan|
|3077||3111||יְהוֹיָדָע||Yᵉhoyada||יוֹיָדָע||Yoyada||yada [# 3045]||Jehoiada||Joiada|
|3078||3112||יְהוֹיָכִין||Yᵉhoyakin||יוֹיָכִין||Yoyakin||kun [# 3559]||Yehoyakin||Joiakin|
|3079||3113||יְהוֹיָקִים||Yᵉhoyaqim||יוֹיָקִים||Yoyaqim||qum [# 3965]||Yehoyakim||Joakim|
|3080||3114||יְהוֹיָרִיב||Yᵉhoyarib||יוֹיָרִיב||Yoyarib||rib [# 7378]||Jehoiarib||Joiarib|
|3082||3122||יְהוֹנָדָב||Yᵉhonadab||יוֹנָדָב||Yonadab||nadab [# 5068]||Jehonadab||Jonadab|
|3083||3129||יְהוֹנָתָן||Yᵉhonathan||יוֹנָתָן||Yonathan||nathan [# 5414]||Yehonathan||Jonathan|
|3085||—||יְהוֹעַדָּה||Yᵉho'addah||—||—||'adah [# 5710]||Jehoaddah||—|
|3087||3136||יְהוֹצָדָק||Yᵉhotsadaq||יוֹצָדָק||Yotsadaq||tsadaq [# 6663]||Jehozadak||Jozadak|
|3088||3141||יְהוֹרָם||Yᵉhoram||יוֹרָם||Yoram||rum [# 7311]||Jehoram||Joram|
|3092||3146||יְהוֹשָפָט||Yᵉhoshaphat||יוֹשָפָט||Yoshaphat||shaphat [# 8199]||Jehoshaphat||Joshaphat|
|3470a||3470||יְשַׁעְיָהוּ||Yᵉsha'yahu||יְשַׁעְיָה||Yᵉsha'yah||yasha [# 3467]||Yeshayahu||Isaiah|
|5418a||5418||נְתַנְיָהוּ||Nᵉthanyahu||נְתַנְיָה||Nᵉthanyah||nathan [# 5414]||Netanyahu||Netaniah|
|138a||138||אֲדֹנִיָּהוּ||'Adoniyahu||אֲדֹנִיָּה||'Adoniyah||'adown [# 113]||Adoniyahu||Adonijah|
|452a||452||אֵלִיָּהוּ||'Eliyahu||אֵלִיָּה||'Eliyah||'el [# 410]||Eliyahu||Elijah|
|3414a||3414||יִרְמְיָהוּ||Yirmᵉyahu||יִרְמְיָה||Yirmᵉyah||rum [# 7311]||Yirmeyahu||Jeremiah|
|—||5166||—||—||נְחֶמְיָה||Nᵉchemyah||nacham [# 5162]||—||Nechemiah|
Theophoric names containing "Baal" were sometimes "censored" as -bosheth = "shameful one", whence Ishbosheth etc.