Biblical Baby Names: Why Noah now?
It seems that just about every few decades since the 1940’s, one Old Testament patriarch name has entered the popularity list’s Top 5, some lingering longer than others. From the forties through the early eighties it was David, joined by Joshua in 1983, Daniel for the single year 1985, Jacob ten years later– and holding first place for the past thirteen years– and Ethan (a more minor biblical figure) in 2002.
And now we have Noah, which entered the golden circle last year at Number 5.
Noah fits right into this group—like the earlier Joseph, and David, Jacob and Ethan, it’s a simple, modern-sounding two-syllable name with a strong first syllable and softer second. And like Joseph, David, Daniel, Joshua and Jacob, Noah comes with a dramatic narrative that’s well known to most children.
As every Sunday school alumnus knows, Noah was deemed the only righteous man of his time, singled out by God to survive the great flood sent to punish an evil world, and instructed to build an ark to save his family and all species of animals from the flood.
The name Noah has been in the Top 1000 since Social Security records have been kept, but was well used way before, adopted by the Puritans in the seventeenth century. A noted early bearer was Noah Webster, (he was a Jr.), born in 1758, the influential lexographer and text book pioneer, political writer and prolific author, who wrote the first American dictionary. But his name didn’t enter the Top 100 until 1995.
Noah was helped on its current rise up the ladder by the celebrity of longtime ER star Noah Wyle, and perhaps even by the hunky character named Noah on All My Children. Current representatives include filmmaker Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale, Greenberg), the father of a son named Rohmer, and Noah Adams, author and NPR senior correspondent.
There’s a larger field when it comes to fictional characters, starting with Dickens’s Oliver Twist character Noah Claypole (not the greatest of role models), Noah Joad in The Grapes of Wrath, and the influential Noah Calhoun character in the bestselling Nicholas Sparks’ novel The Notebook, played on screen in 2004 by Ryan Gosling. On the small screen there have been Noahs on several soap operas, and on Heroes, Alias, 90210, and Desperate Housewives; the birth name of Puck Puckerman on Glee is Noah.
Noah has also been a low-keyed starbaby hit over the past few years. In the Noah parents club are Megan Fox and Brian Austin Green, Josh Lucas, Chyler Leigh, Alessandra Ambrósio, Chris Daughtry, Stone Temple Pilot’s Scott Weiland, and Radiohead’s Thom Yorke.
And lest you think the ascent of Noah is just an American phenomenon, here are his current high ratings in other countries:
#1 in Belgium
#2 in Denmark
#7 in Australia (NSW)
#9 in Canada and Norway
#15 in France
Do you like Old Testament names? Which is your favorite?
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on April 17th, 2013 at 11:28 pm
Personally, I dislike the name Noah, as well as most biblical names.
on April 17th, 2013 at 11:40 pm
I like Noah, but wouldn’t use it because it’s so popular. I also really like Rebecca (or Rebekah), Jacob, Rachel, and Samuel.
on April 18th, 2013 at 12:49 am
I really like Noah, but personally I would never use it because of it’s popularity. I also like Rachel, Rebekah, Ruth, Sarah, Daniel, David and Joshua.
on April 18th, 2013 at 1:40 am
I love the use of Biblical names, but Noah is too popular for us. My husband likes Abner and I like Reuben 🙂
on April 18th, 2013 at 3:02 am
I like the name Noah, but I think it’s because my little cousin has that name. >.>
on April 18th, 2013 at 3:05 am
I love Noah! We used it when it was well outside the top 30 in the UK and figured hey that’s not so bad… Was it heck!?? Two years on and it’s climbed like a monkey in vines!! But, I wouldn’t want another name for him even if it is massively popular in most of the western world! =)
on April 18th, 2013 at 3:14 am
I love Noah! I just love old testament names especially for boys. My favourites names are Levi and Jonah. Both biblical classics. I also like biblical girls names for example Miriam, Ruth, Rachel and Elizabeth; but I do prefer biblical boys names to girls the boys I just think seem so cool and usable.
on April 18th, 2013 at 4:20 am
Brahim and Bram after Abraham is my personal favorite name for a babyboy, and Eve/Eva/Hawa is (not top) on the girls list
on April 18th, 2013 at 5:50 am
I am very conflicted on the name Noah now. It’s far, far too popular (and has been) for my liking and I’m not exactly a fan of Biblical names (however a lot of the strong, masculine-but-not-harsh, names I like tend to be Biblical so go figure) but I personally know many, many Noah’s and I love every single one of them. I’ve never met a Noah I didn’t like. Lol. That said, my cousin and his new gf are due next month and they’ve picked Noah if it’s boy and I hate the idea of their baby being named Noah. (She has two kids already and he has two already and either name they’ve picked for it just seems odd with either and definitely all of the siblings. Sure they’re two different families that are trying to become one but it still seems like an odd pick to have with Madelyn & Macey, and Kendal & Jason).
My favorite Noah though is a little boy with autism that my bother’s friends have adopted from my home-country of El Salvador, and he is my Godson. So you’d think I wouldn’t feel weird about the name. But like most biblical names I just feel old and stuffy and over-used when I say it. Lol
on April 18th, 2013 at 6:05 am
I really love Noah and understand the craziness about it. It’s really handsome, easy to pn and spell and can be translated into different languages. And, for me, Noah is one of that names (Adam, Liam, Jared, Rhett) that I picture very sexy man with:)
on April 18th, 2013 at 7:08 am
Noah is darling but has been extremely popular where I live for years. It may be worth noting that there is a also feminine form that is in the Bible, Noa.
I personally prefer the more unusual Biblical boy names like Abel, Asher, Elah, Ephraim, Ezra, Gideon, Hosea, Isaiah, Josiah, Judah, Levi, Micah, Silas, Titus, Tobias, etc. Such a great selection it’s kind of a shame people don’t branch out a little more!
on April 18th, 2013 at 7:35 am
I love, love, love Old Testament names, and am really sad that Noah has become so popular. It is a fantastic name, though, so it’s no wonder.
on April 18th, 2013 at 8:29 am
I like Noah, but I love Noam better
on April 18th, 2013 at 9:35 am
I love Noah… although I am embarrassed to admit that the reason why I like it is 100% because of the Notebook. If it wasn’t so popular and wasn’t so biblical it would be on my top 10 for sure!
on April 18th, 2013 at 10:10 am
Noah is nice. I like Caleb and Seth as well. My boys have New Testament names but if we run out of New Testament names we like I might look to the Old Testament.
on April 18th, 2013 at 10:17 am
I’m an atheist so the biblical bit doesn’t matter to me one way or the other – but I DO love the sound, I think it’s a beautiful name.It was on my list 4 years ago for my son, we ended up with a Caleb (another Biblical pick, interesting how that happens….) and luckily Caleb has not climbed to quite the same heights. I wouldn’t use Noah now, though, since t is in the top 10.
on April 18th, 2013 at 10:54 am
#11 in Germany. I quite like it, but it’s so overused. It does have a nice sound though. I like it for girls as well.
on April 18th, 2013 at 11:08 am
My favorite is Levi.
on April 18th, 2013 at 11:37 am
Only number 3 in Denmark, I believe. But yes very popular. Given to about 1 out of 50 boys.
Lucas is also very high ranking.
My favorite has always been Benjamin.
on April 18th, 2013 at 12:04 pm
Am I the only person who thinks Noah sounds like a whiny kid groaning “no”?
on April 18th, 2013 at 1:10 pm
I LOVE the name Abel!! Its so adorable!
on April 18th, 2013 at 2:05 pm
Southern.maple – depends how your kids whine. My kids doen’t sound like that when they give a groan or a whiney no 😉
on April 18th, 2013 at 3:08 pm
Noah doesn’t do much for me. I do love Noa for a girl, but I don’t think it’s terribly usable because of Noah’s popularity.
on April 18th, 2013 at 7:01 pm
southern.maple omg yes! I’d never thought of that before.
on April 18th, 2013 at 7:03 pm
It seems weird to me that Noah is rising in popularity now- I thought of it as more popular when I was born (2000) and I figured it would sort of fade away after that. Guess not!
on April 18th, 2013 at 7:46 pm
well Noah is my nephew’s name [born 2001]. I love it
on April 18th, 2013 at 10:02 pm
Really like Noah and even though it is so popular it doesn’t have the feeling, at least not yet, of an overused name like Jacob or Aidan.
Love most biblical names but usually the more obscure ones appeal a bit more. Obadiah and Hezekiah are my favorites but also Abner, Aram, Abraham, Nehemiah, Ezra, Jubal, Linus, Silas, Titus and Tobias. As far as girls the top five would be Naomi, Miriam, Dinah, Judith and Eve. But there are many other beauties found there.
on April 18th, 2013 at 10:09 pm
I really like Noah a lot! Along with other biblical names Joseph, Jacob & Joshua, Noah is one of my favorites!
on April 18th, 2013 at 10:20 pm
If the baby I am expecting had been a boy, he would be Abraham. I also love Abel, but it is becoming trendy, and I like the story of Abraham better. My other three boys also have biblical names. We considered Noah for our third, but went with Jude instead. I love the idea of Esther for a girl- the story is fantastic, it is a name with such a rich story. Alas, I do not love it enough to use it. But I do love the name!
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on September 7th, 2019 at 2:46 am
[…] Noah might sound old-fashioned but the truth is that this is the most popular baby boy name around the world. Inspired by the biblical character, this name is perfect for a little boy born to be a leader. […]
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