55 Biblical Names Reaching New Heights

Jan 18th 2018

Biblical baby name style is riding high. Names like Elijah and Isaiah are major hits, with Ezekiel, Delilah, Emmanuel, Malachi, Nehemiah and more close on their heels. The more distinctly biblical a name sounds, the more parents are drawn to it — and they're reaching ever deeper to find unusual names that fill the bill.

To show off the reach of this new biblical style, I've assembled a list of 55 names from the Bible that are currently at all-time historic peaks for U.S. usage. (As in the Bible itself, male names predominate.) Some of the names will likely strike you as handsome antiques; others as genuine surprises based on sound and style, or in a few cases because of the biblical figures they represent.

But before presenting the 55 hot names, I should mention a biblical name currently at its all-time historic low: Mary. And here's a historical graph of the popularity of Mary vs. all seven of the new biblical hits listed in the opening paragraph:

That's a little reminder that it's biblical style, rather than Bible names per se, that today's parents are hunting for.

55 Biblical Names Reaching New Heights 
(* indicates a current top-1,000 ranking)

BOYS GIRLS
Abishai Abiah
Abram* Atarah
Adiel Athaliah
Ananias Delilah*
Aquila Hadassah*     
Aram Keziah
Azarias Merab
Aziel Prisca
Benaiah Rahab
Boaz Shiphrah
Eldad Zillah
Eliam  
Elias*  
Elon  
Enoch*  
Ephraim*  
Esdras  
Ezekiel*  
Ezra*  
Gavriel  
Gershon  
Goliath  
Haggai  
Hazaiah  
Hezekiah*                      
Issachar  
Jahdiel  
Jahziel  
Jaziel*  
Jedaiah  
Jethro  
Joash  
Josiah*  
Lazarus  
Matthias*  
Mordecai  
Nehemias  
Obadiah  
Ozias  
Peleg  
Tobiah  
Yedaiah  
Zabdiel  
Zacharias  
Zephaniah  

 

 

 

Comments

1
By EVie
January 18, 2018 8:17 PM

I think it's also worth pointing out that Mary is a New Testament name, and most (all?) of the names you list are Old Testament. It's OT/Hebrew style that's trending, rather than Biblical per se (a lot of NT names are Greek). Timothy, Paul, Stephen, Joseph, Matthew, Mark, John -- all those NT names are in decline. Luke is an exception; James is rising modestly again after a huge decline. 

It's interesting to look at the Old Testament names that are in decline: Daniel, Jonathan, David, Joshua, Adam, Aaron, Jeremy, Jared. Comparing the graphs for Jeremy and Jeremiah shows just what a huge style difference that "ah" ending makes. On the other hand, the fact that Joshua is a "dad name" now is probably the only factor making it drop, since stylistically it should fit right in with the trending names. The graph for Jacob is really fascinating: its rank went up at the same time as its absolute numbers were dropping way, way down. 

2
January 18, 2018 8:54 PM

@EVie FYI the list may be skewed OT because I left off a number of NT names that are also familiar from other classical figures (e.g. Cyrus, Titus, Gaius), and it's hard to separate the biblical trend from the classical trend. I think the divide is more along style lines than Old Testament/New Testament.

As the graph in this past post shows, OT names are declining overall too: 

http://www.babynamewizard.com/archives/2017/5/biblical-baby-name-boom-dont-believe-it

 

3
January 18, 2018 9:10 PM

EVie, I did a quick scan of the names and only spotted 3 NT names: Aquila, Matthias, and Prisca (a diminutive of Priscilla).

Personally the most surprising on the list, despite many others being more obsure and difficult to pronounce/spell, is Goliath. Not only was he a villian, which I realize hasn't slowed names like Jezebel, but the physical characteristic association is way too prominent. The name has become an adjective...in fact, my oldest daughter sometimes refers to our youngest as Goliath Baby because she measures high on the charts.

4
January 18, 2018 11:55 PM

Emerald Bee, the relationship between Prisca and Priscilla goes the other way: Prisca is the main or full name, Priscilla is the elaborated, diminutive or endearment version. It's a Roman name, so it also falls into the Classical trend that Laura mentions in her comment.

5
By EVie
January 19, 2018 1:36 PM

Laura, do you think that classical names are trending, too? I took a quick glance at Name Voyager and it looks like names ending in -us have been rising since the 1950s, but there are a lot of not-really-classical -us names cluttering the graph (Seamus, inventions like Jamarcus, the Spanish name Jesús). The Greek -as ending is even harder to tease apart.

6
February 19, 2018 2:38 AM

The fact that Joshua is a "dad name" now is probably the only factor making it drop, since stylistically it should fit right in with the trending names. The graph for Jacob is really fascinating: its rank went up at the same time as its absolute numbers were dropping way, way down. <a href="http://metertofeet.com/">boy name</a> , the fact that Joshua is a "dad name" now is probably the only factor making it drop, since stylistically it should fit right in with the trending names. The graph for Jacob is really fascinating: its rank went up at the same time as its absolute numbers were dropping way, way down