Casper (name)

Casper (name)

Infobox Given Name Revised
name = Casper

caption="The Journey of the Magi" by James Tissot. Casper is considered one of the traditional names of the three wise men
gender = Male
meaning = "Master of the Treasure"
region =
origin = [Mesopotamia]
related names =
The name Casper along with Kasper and Jasper is a modification of Gaspar which in turn is derived from an ancient Chaldean word,"Gizbar", which according to Strong's Concordance means "Treasurer". The word "Gizbar" appears in the Hebrew version of the Old Testament Book of Ezra (1:8). In fact, the modern Hebrew word for "Treasurer" is still "Gizbar". By the first century B.C. the Septuagent gave a Greek translation of "Gizbar" in Ezra 1:8 as "Gasbarinou". There are numerous modern variations such as Gaspare (Italian), Kaspar (German), Jasper or Casper (English), Kacper (Polish), Gáspár (Hungarian), Kasparov (Russian), Γάσπαρ or Κάσπαρ "Kaspar" (Greek) etc.

By the 6th. century, the name Gaspar had been recorded (e.g. in the Basilica of St. Appollinarius in Ravenna, Italy) as one of the traditional names assigned by folklore to the anonymous Magi mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew account of the Nativity of Jesus. The Western tradition of the name "Gaspar" derives from an early 6th Century Greek manuscript, translated into the Latin "Excerpta Latina Barbari". A pseudo-Venerable Beda text, called "Collectanea et Flores", apparently continues the tradition of the name "Caspar" : "Secundus nomine Caspar" (P.L., XCIV, 541). This text is said to be from the 8th or 9th century, of Irish origin. As a surname, Gaspar survives today in Spanish, Portuguese and French, although the latter adds a silent "d". It also survives in the Armenian name, Gasparian.

The basic names Gaspar, and its variants Caspar and Kaspar, along with Melchoir and Balthazar or (Balthasar), the other two saints, wisemen, and kings depicted in the above basilica became family names and spread throughout Europe. Eventually, there would be dozens of variations due to suffixes (e.g. "-son","-sen", "-ovitch","-ski", etc.) and variations of spelling ,pronunciation, and alphabets. For example, since "s"(Hungarian)="sh"(English)="sch"(German)="sz"(Polish) and since "s"(Dutch)="sz"(Hungarian), it is easy to see how Kaspar could become Kaschpar or Kaszpar. Some of them if written in Russian or Amernian would be totally unrecognizable if seen...but recognizable if heard.

In British and American English the initial "a" in Gaspar, Kaspar, Caspar, etc. is now pronounced as in the word "hat", whereas in continental Europe, it remains as in the word "father". This, and other changes in English pronuciation took place between 1200 and 1600 and are now known as the Great Vowel Shift.

Records indicate by the late 1700's a number of immigrants to America were changing the "a" to "o" in the first part of their names and "-ar" to "-er" in the last part. Examples include:


Today, despite all of the above variations, Casper has become the most prevalent, both as first and last name, in North America.

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