Stephen is a common male forename. It can also be spelled Steven, which is closer phonetically to its sound in English ('STEEVE-en', IPA: /'stiːvən/); but purists prefer the spelling with -ph-', which reflects its origin as a Greek name, using the letter φ (phi). (It is derived from the word στέφανος (stephanos), 'a crown'. This was an appropriate name for the first Christian to 'gain a martyr's crown' (die for his faith): Saint Stephen.) The equivalent name in many European languages (e.g. Irish, German and Russian) is written with an '-f-'; in some (like Czech) it has a '-p-', which in Spanish becomes a '-b-' (Estéban): a form in French is Étienne. The feminine equivalent in English is Stephanie. There have been some well-known Stephens:
- Several Saints. Those of general interest are probably only two or three:
- Stephen the protomartyr, or first martyr. His death is recorded in the The Acts of the Apostles. His feast-day is 26th December - 'Boxing Day' in Britain - and is recorded in the carol Good King Wenceslas.
- One Pope, Stephen I (254-7).
- Stephen of Hungary, who not only consolidated the realm but greatly strengthened Christianity within it.
- Several places are named for one or other of the saints, in Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States.