Ishmael is most familiar through "Call me Ishmael," the opening line spoken by the youthful narrator of Moby-Dick. Few American parents have followed that advice, though the Spanish and Arabic spelling, Ismael, ranks at Number 362. With its warm and pleasant sound, though, we could see Ishmael tagging along behind Isaiah and Isaac.
In the Bible, Ishmael was Abraham's first son by the Egyptian maidservant Hagar, who was told by God to name him Ishmael. In Islamic tradition, Ishmael (or Ismail) is believed to have been the ancestor of the Arabs.
Ishmael Bush is one of the main characters in James Fenimore Cooper's novel The Prairie, and there is an Ismael in the Lemony Snicket book, The End. Some notable real-life bearers are novelist and poet Ishmael Reed and Indian-born film producer Ismail Merchant.