Spotlight on: Shepherd

Happy feast of St. Kateri! I did a spotlight on her name back when I first started the blog, and she’s the first entry in my Sibling Project. I’ve also mentioned the Auriesville Shrine a few times, which is where St. Isaac Jogues and companions were martyred, and where it is believed St. Kateri was born — the Shrine is close to where I live, and I grew up going there and have brought my boys many times. And also, today’s my brother’s birthday and the birthday of my best childhood friend! A great day!

Given all this, it’s funny that I should be doing a post today that doesn’t have anything to do with Kateri! But I promised a spotlight on the name Shepherd to Theresa ages ago, and I woke up this morning full of determination to finally get it done, so here we are. A spotlight on Shepherd on the feast of St. Kateri. 😀

I’ve been digging word names recently, and Shepherd is one of the best for Catholic namers! We can use it to refer, of course, to Jesus the Good Shepherd. Shepherd and its variant Shep(p)ard literally mean “shepherd, sheep herder,” and the Good Shepherd is one of my favorite portrayals of Jesus. Jesus Himself said, “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11) and “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27) — such a strong and comforting reassurance! In addition, as far as a feast day goes, Good Shepherd Sunday is the fourth Sunday after Easter, and in “1963, Pope Paul VI designated Good Shepherd Sunday  as World Day of Prayer for Vocations as those called to the priesthood are shepherds of the faithful” (source). I love that! There’s also a pretty great list of patrons of shepherds, if you’d rather go that route to find a feast day.

In addition to being a word name, it’s also a surname, so it can fit in with other saintly surnames (incidentally, speaking of St. Kateri and St. Isaac, Jogues is on that list of saintly surnames!) — this family has three boys with names in this style, including Shepherd — I love them!

Shep is one of the best nicknames too! It’s good for a boy and a man, and it has that friendly vibe that I always like so much in nicknames. I could also see Sheppy, which is a-dorable, and I’m not opposed to Herd as a nickname either, if Shep(py) isn’t quite right — it reminds me of Hart, which I see from time to time and like quite a bit, and in fact the surname Herd appears to be a variant of Hart, which I don’t know quite what to do with but it’s too interesting to not include! (Note that the first link to Hart is for its use as a nickname for Gerhardt, which is a variant of Gerard, and in that case means “hardy,” while the latter link to Hart as a variant of Herd refers to its meaning as a male deer [stag]. Both of them cool meanings, but neither refer to sheep!).

What do you think of the name Shepherd? Would you consider it for a son, or have you? Do you know anyone named Shepherd? Does he go by a nickname? Happy feast day to all the little Kateris that are part of the Sancta Nomina community!


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady, is now available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon! It’s a perfect for expectant mamas, baby showers, and just because. Click here to read reviews and endorsements (and if you feel moved to leave a review on Amazon, it would be greatly appreciated! 🙂).

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12 thoughts on “Spotlight on: Shepherd

  1. It is a name clearly gaining some traction. From being very rare earlier, to kind of starting to come into some usage about 15 years ago – and I see almost 300 boys with the name last year. It isn’t my style but I can see its appeal with a certain style of name. The connections to the Good Shepherd or sheepherding saints is legit. I do have to say that the nickname Shep is pretty much a dog name to me though. I know and have heard of many Sheps through the years.

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  2. I love Shepherd as a first name. It’s my surname and both my husband and eldest son were in the military and were called Shep or Sheps as a nickname. My only problem is that people cannot spell (in general, but especially with our name) despite the fact that it’s a word not just a name, and completely butcher it. Which is annoying but obviously not exclusive to us.

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    • Around here it’s said JOGZ, long O, but I think the French pronunciation is JOG, long O, no Z sound on the end, so I could see that getting old …. I love that Joe is an easy, familiar nickname!

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  3. I listened to one of those French pronunciation thingies and it said Zho guh (where you kinda swallow the guh a little so it isn’t very strong?)

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    • Could be! I’m definitely in a St. Isaac pocket because of being near his shrine, so the way everyone around here is familiar with saying it might be the minority pronunciation everywhere else, we definitely don’t use the French pronunciation.

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  4. My son is not named Shepherd but we call him Shep or Sheppy exclusively. Inevitably when we introduce him to someone new they say “oh, I know another baby named Shepherd”. We’ve had to do a lot of correcting. I had no idea how much people in my area were naming sons Shepherd until naming my son.

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