Stephen or Steven ( /ˈstiːvən/) is a masculine first name, derived from the Greek name Στέφανος (Stephanos) meaning "crown, garland", in turn from the Greek word "στέφανος", meaning "wreath, crown, honour, reward", literally "that which surrounds or encompasses". In ancient Greece, a wreath was given to the winner of a contest (from which the crown, symbol of rulers derived). The use of the noun was first recorded in Homer's Iliad. The name is significant to Christians: according to the Book of Acts in the New Testament, Saint Stephen was a deacon who was stoned to death and is regarded as the first Christian martyr. The name has many variants, which include Stephan, Stevan, Stefan and Stevon.
In Middle English, the name Stephen or Stephan was pronounced as a bi-syllabic word — Step-hen or Step-han — much like a Scandinavian surname. Steve was pronounced as it is in Modern English. This etymological usage began a decline in the mid-19th century.
Steve is the common short form, while various diminutives such as Stevie and Ste are also used. Many family names are derived from Stephen: the most common are Stephens/Stevens and Stephenson/Stevenson (others include Stephen, Stephan, Staphan, Stefan, Stevin and Stever).
The name was ranked 201 in the United States in 2009, according to the Social Security Administration. The name reached its peak popularity in 1951 but remained very common through the mid-1990s, when popularity started to decrease in the United States
In the United Kingdom, it peaked during the 1950s and 1960s as one of the top ten male first names (ranking third in 1954) but had fallen to twentieth by 1984 and had fallen out of the top one hundred by 2002.
The female version of the name is Stephanie.
For Stephen as a surname see Stephen (surname), Stephenson and Stevenson.