Thoughts on the name Elam

My husband's father and grandfather both have this name. We have always wanted to honor them, but have steered away from such an unusual name. The middle name is out of the question for me because I cannot separate Clifford from the big red dog. But, when I saw Elam included in Laura's list of raindrop names, I started to wonder if it would really be that bad. Does it feel like the more popular names like Eli, Elias, Elijah....or does it just seem old and weird and obscure? What do you think of names like Elam Aaron Elam Arthur Elam Jacob Elam Joseph Thanks for the feedback!


August 22, 2013 11:24 PM

I've never heard this name but I do like the sound of it.  I think it would be a nice name.  I'm guessing it is pronounced like Liam but with an E sound in the front. 

I think I like Elam Joseph best.

August 23, 2013 9:51 AM

Yes, it is like Liam only reversed.  EE- lum.  Liam is another good example of similar more well- known name!

August 23, 2013 8:14 AM

I know someone with the surname Elam, so it sounds normal to me as I'm used to saying it (just in the surname position). Does your father-in-law like his name?

August 23, 2013 9:55 AM

That is a good question.  He has never liked it, but I think it's more because he is a junior and has never really known what name to go by.  In some places he's Elam, other places he's Cliff, and still other places he still goes by his childhood nickname of Buzz.  So, I think it's more the confusion than the actual name that he dislikes.  Elam is a fairly common name in the Amish Mennonite community where he grew up.  So, especially for his father, this name is not unusual at all.  Now, where we live, it would not be well known.

August 23, 2013 1:02 PM

I like Elam & don't think of it as weird or too obscure at all.  I think it would fit in prefectly with names like Liam as well as with some of the other Old Testament names popular right now.  You also have the "it's a family name" thing to fall back on, which will quickly shut up any naysayers (and there are naysayers with every name).  

Looking at your list, Elam Aaron has a bit of a sing/song quality I don't care for.  The others are all very nice, it's hard to decide which one I like best.

August 23, 2013 5:09 PM

Thanks!  I like Jacob the best, but our last name straits with B, so I'm not sure if that rules it out or not.

August 23, 2013 4:35 PM

I like Elam!  It sounds Biblical but unusual, and the family connection is nice. 

Elam Jacob sounds good, and gives him the most popular name in America to fall back on, if Elam feels too weird.

August 23, 2013 5:07 PM

That is what I was thinking...choose a middle name that is more common like Jacob.  I kind of like Arthur the best since it is another family name, but even though it is being done a lot more now, it's just not a name would choose for a first name.  So, since I don't feel like it's a good name to fall back on, I probably wouldn't ultimately choose it.  

August 23, 2013 6:51 PM

This might be a minority response, but when I saw the name, I read it as though it were in Hebrew, since it looks more familiar to me as a Hebrew than English name. This led to a different pronunciation, something like eh-LUM. That said, I think that it's a great name and really like it, but wanted you to know that the desired pronunciation isn't instinctive to everyone.

The Wikipedia entry for the name has different pronunciations in English and Hebrew. In English it says EE-ləm, which seems to be what you're going for, but in Hebrew it says, more or less, ay(like hay)-LUM(this vowel is hard to translate) (עֵילָם).

August 24, 2013 8:08 AM

Those are good thoughts worth considering!  Thanks!

By hyz
August 30, 2013 3:00 PM

I am familiar with this as a surname, so it doesn't seem old and weird, but definitely a bit different/obscure for a first name. You will probably have to help some people with the pronunciation, since it is not familiar to everyone and is a bit ambiguous on its face. Still, I think it could work fine and I agree that the similarity to Liam will really help it fit in while standing out. I like Elam Arthur and Elam Joseph (I would probably avoid Jacob since your surname starts with B, unless you have a strong preference for it). I think Eli could also make a good nn if he ever wants one.

August 30, 2013 6:36 PM

In the current tv series Hell on Wheels there is a character named Elam Ferguson, a former slave.  (The series is set in the years immediately following the Civil War.)  Thus at least some people will be familiar with the name.

August 31, 2013 2:28 PM

I like it, but there are many ways a person might think to pronounce it! EE-lum, AY-lum, EL-um (this is what I thought before you clarified the pronounciation), uh-LAM, eh-LAM. So he'll get alot of wrong guesses. Whether that bothers him will depend on his personality.

As for middles, I'll buck the consensus and say I like it with Aaron. I think going from terminal sound M to initial sound J is a tough transition. But Jacob and Joseph do open up the potential nickname EJ, if you like that.

Gook Luck! :)

July 28, 2014 9:51 AM

Elam Arthur, it sounds great!  

July 31, 2014 9:34 AM

Can I just point out that Elam is "male" backwards?

August 3, 2014 11:40 PM

I'll also point out that Elam is a character in AMC's "Hell on Wheels."

August 21, 2014 8:40 AM

I like Elam Jacob or Elam Joseph the best.  I don't like the pairing of Elam with names that also start with vowels.  As far as first names go, I think Elam is a good name for a boy.  It's not my style, but it has a lot of family history for you.  And I think that will be special.  I think you have to pronounce and/or spell every name now anyway, so I wouldn't let that shy me away from a name.  My son's names are Ian and Eric.  Ian's name is constantly mispelled (Ean or Iain) and/or mispronounced as EYE-in.  Eric's name is always mispelled since there are so many variations even though I thought we chose the most common spelling.  But I'm always asked if it's spelled with a c, ck, or k.  Ugh...

October 24, 2014 7:29 AM

I loooove Elam. :) Elam Joseph is the best I think.

October 24, 2014 8:33 PM

I don't love it, but I definitely think it's useable. 

As you noted, Eli, or something similar, would be a possible nn. 

I think it might be good to get some clarity on how your fil feels. 

He might not want it used as a tribute if he didn't like it himself. 

October 24, 2014 11:01 PM

Since the child in question is about a year old, I doubt whether there is any point in asking Grampa how he feels about his name now.