25 Perennially Popular OT Boy Names

From top name Noah to last place Reuben

By Linda Rosenkrantz

Of the profusion of male names in the Old Testament, only 25 of them seem to have been consistently in the US Top 1000, year after year after year. And even those have fluctuated in popularity: a prime example being today’s Number one boy name Noah, which fell to as low as #693 in the early 1960s.

I thought it would be interesting to track these 25 names and trace the paths of their popularity from the time records started being kept, in 1880, beginning with current top-rated Noah and moving down to #878-ranked Reuben (which was far more common in 1880, at 147). I’ve also included the current Nameberry ranks, where Levi is tops at #16, to show where our community stands on this.

Noah

Current US rank: #1

High point: #1 since 2013, entered the Top 100 in 1995

Low point: 694 in 1963

Nameberry rank: 109

Benjamin

Current US rank: #6

High point: right now

Low point: 155 in 1960

Nameberry rank: 28

Jacob

Current US rank: #7

High point: was the top boy name in the US from 1999 to 2012

Low point: 368 in 1962

Nameberry rank: 53

Elijah

Current US rank: #9

High point: 2016, entered Top 100 in 1995

Low Point: 680 in 1968

Nameberry rank: 35

Daniel

Current rank: #13

High point: #5 in 1985 and 2007-08; always in the Top 100

Low point: 55 from 1914 to 1916

Nameberry rank: 67

David

Current rank: #19

High point: #1 in 1960

Low point: #33 in 1903

Nameberry rank: #90

Joseph

Current rank: #20

High point: #5 from 1912 to 1917; almost always in the Top 20

Low point: #22 In 2011

Nameberry rank: 78

Samuel

Current rank #21

High point: in 2005 and 2016

Low point: #91 in 1960, so always in the top 100

Nameberry rank: #60

Isaac

Current rank: 31

High point: #29 in 2013

Low point: #378 in 1967

Nameberry rank: #57

Joshua

Current rank: 35

High point: #3 from 2002 to 2006; entered Top 10 in 1979

Low point: 730 in 1929

Nameberry rank: 114

Levi

Current rank: #42

High point: 42 since 2015; entered Top 100 in 2009

Low point: 724 in 1965

Nameberry rank: 16

Nathan

Current rank: 43

High point: 20 in 2004-05

Low point: #273 in 1947

Nameberry rank: #95

Aaron

Current rank: #49

High point: 28 in 1994; entered Top 100 in 1968

Low point: 269 in 1945

Nameberry rank: 145

Eli

Current rank: #52

High point: #43 in 2013: entered Top 50 in 2012

Low point: 700 in 1964 and 1969

Nameberry rank: 45

Jonathan

Current rank: 56

High point: 15 in 1988; entered Top 100 in 1962

Low point: 843 in 1907

Nameberry rank: 68

Jeremiah

Current rank: 58

High point: 51 in 2010-11, re-entered Top 100 in 2001

Low point: 734 in 1965

Nameberry rank: 202

Adam

Current rank: #75

High point: #18, 1983-84, in the Top 100 since 1970

Low point: #428 in 1954

Nameberry rank: 93

Abraham

Current rank: 158

Highest point: 124 in 1911

Low point: 499 in 1967

Nameberry rank: 354

Joel

Current rank: 166

Highest point: 65 in 1981

Low point: 380 in 1900

Nameberry rank: 257

Jesse

Current rank: 174

High point: 26 in 1882 and 1887

Low point: 178 in 2015

Nameberry rank: 599

Simon

Current rank: 243

High point: 139 in 1886

Low point: 556 in 1965

Nameberry rank: 81

Seth

Current rank: 307

High point: 63 in 2000

Low point: 905 in 1930

Nameberry rank: 347

Solomon

Current rank: 369

High point: 196 in 1880

Low point: 712 in 1963

Nameberry rank: 197

Moses

Current rank: 462

Highest point: 119 in 1880

Lowest point: 600 in 1964

Nameberry rank: 445

Reuben

Current rank: 878

Highest point: 147 in 1880

Low point: 995 in 2010

Nameberry rank: 119

Note: Saul was only briefly off the list. If I’ve missed any names that have been on consistently since 1880, I’m sure you’ll let me know!

If you’re wondering about the female names in the Old Testament—a much smaller number– only ten have had a constant presence in the Top 1000:

Hannahnow #33, #2 from 1998 to 2000

Leahnow 37

Sarah57–#3 in 1993

Naomi74

Rachel173–#9 in 1996

Esther183

Rebecca207–#10 in 1973-74

Miriam293

Deborah—815–#2 in 1955!

Judith889–#4 in 1940

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6 Responses to “25 Perennially Popular OT Boy Names”

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MGK Says:

April 25th, 2018 at 6:06 am

Is Zachary a biblical name? I know it has Hebrew roots and there are forms of the name in the Old Testament….
My daughter, now in her early 30s new a heck oof a lot of Zachary’s.

AshleyLouisa Says:

April 25th, 2018 at 8:08 am

Ruth for the girls list?

beynotce Says:

April 25th, 2018 at 10:11 am

@MGK Although it’s been solidly present since, Zachary actually didn’t enter the top 1000 names until the 1940’s!

ceryle Says:

April 25th, 2018 at 4:29 pm

This is interesting! Several names hitting their low points in the ’60s.

What about Abigail for the girls list?

tp b Says:

April 25th, 2018 at 6:38 pm

@Ceryle – That’s what I was thinking: the 60’s didn’t love OT names. Over half (13 names) hit the low in the 60’s. What names did they love? Maybe NT names like Luke.

Also, David has never fallen below 33, and Joseph below 22! Wow!

Contrast w/ Jonathan, Seth, and Reuben — they’ve had huge swings.

beynotce Says:

April 26th, 2018 at 8:25 am

@ceryle Abigail was surprisingly unpopular in the first half of the 20th century, popping on and off of the top 1000 until right around 1950.

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