Although Nathan is more popular, the more dignified Nathaniel dropped out of the top 100 for the first time since 1977 last year, to 103. Despite the profusion of Nat names around, Nathaniel remains singularly appealing and distinctive, with several attractive nicknames -- Nat, Natty and Nate. Parents finding it overused might opt for New Testament Apostle Nathaniel's other name, Bartholomew.
A boy named Nathaniel would have any number of real life and literary namesakes to inspire him. These include Revolutionary General Nathanael Greene, rebel slave Nat Turner, writers Nathaniel Hawthorne and Nathanael (born Nathan) West, lithographer Nathaniel Currier, partner of Ives, and singer/pianist Nat "King" Cole.
An early literary character with the name is Sir Nathaniel in Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost. And then there was Natty Bumpo in James Fenimore Cooper's Leatherstocking Tales, Nathaniel Winkle in Dickens's The Pickwick Papers, and later Dr. Nathaniel Branden in Atlas Shrugged.
In the realm of pop culture, we find such Nathaniels as Nate Fisher in Six Feet Under, and others in The Wire, Gossip Girl and Enchanted, as well as Pirates of the Caribbean character Nathaniel Hawk.
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