Stephen Colbert was born in Washington, D.C. the youngest of eleven children in a Catholic family.

He spent his early years in Bethesda, Maryland. He grew up in .

the Charleston suburb of James Island, South Carolina.

Colbert and his siblings, descending in age, are James III, Edward, Mary, William, Margo, Thomas, Jay, Elizabeth, Paul, Peter and Stephen.

 His father, James William Colbert Jr., was an immunologist 

and dean of medical school at Yale University, St. Louis University, and eventually at.

the Medical University of South Carolina, where, from 1969, he served as the first vice president.

School of Academic Affairs. Stephen's mother, Lorna Elizabeth Colbert, was a housewife.

In interviews, Colbert described his parents as devout people who also value intellectuals 

and taught his children that it is possible to question the Church and that it is still Catholic.

In one of the interviews, Lorna called Stephen an extremist. As a child, he noticed that people in

the South were often portrayed as less intelligent than other characters on scripted television

To avoid that stereotype, he taught himself to imitate the speech of an American news anchor.

While Colbert sometimes jokingly claims that his surname is French, he is of 15/16th Irish descent;

One of his great-grandmothers was of German and English descent.

 Many of their ancestors migrated from Ireland to North America before and during the Great Drought of the 19th century.

Originally, his surname was pronounced in English as /kolbərt/ KOHL-bərt; Stephen Colbert's father,

James, wanted to pronounce the name /koʊlˈbɛər/ kohl-BAIR, but retained /koʊlbərt/ in honor of his father.

He gave his children the option to pronounce the name as per their choice.

Stephen began to use it later in life when he moved to Northwestern University, where he took advantage of.

the opportunity to reposition himself where no one knew him. Stephen's brother Edward, an intellectual property attorney, 

corroborates this, as featured in The Colbert Report on February 12, 2009, when asked by his second eldest brother,

Ed, Ed replied, which Stephen mocked. I replied. Diya, "I will see you in hell".