The Biblical Baby Boy's Name Noah

Portrait of a 9 months old baby boy
Catherine Delahaye/Getty Images

According to the Social Security Administration, in 2014, Noah was the most popular boys' name of the year. The Biblical name had been creeping up on Mark and Jacob for several years, after first cracking the top 100 in the mid-1990s, but 2014 was the first year Noah topped the list. 

It was also the year the film , starring Russell Crowe, was released, which told the Biblical story of the Ark and the Great Flood.

So where did all these Noahs come from? And what is the meaning of this name most commonly associated with an Ark and a flood in the Bible?

Meaning of Noah: The Name has Hebrew Roots

Noah is Hebrew in origin, derived from the name Noe or Noach, which means rest, or comfort. One of the best known stories from the Old Testament is the story of Noah and the Ark. According to the Bible story, Noah built an ark under God's command, in preparation for a Great Flood. He and his family were spared from the flood, and brought two of each animal on board to repopulate the Earth.

That's the most well-known story of Noah, but not the only time he's mentioned in the Bible. And he makes an appearance in other religious traditions as well, including rabbinical texts, Mormon theology, and the Koran.

Recent Popularity of Noah: The TV Show ER May Have Given it a Boost

Noah started to come into use during the Protestant Reformation and was particularly popular among Puritans.

The name has always been on the Social Security Name Charts (going back to 1880), but it has only been since the mid-1990s that the name cracked into the top 100 names. Because it has only recently come into common use, it does not make the Top 100 Names of the Past Century.

The popularity of the name Noah coincided with the popularity of the 1990s television show "ER," which had a much-loved character, Dr. John Carter, played by actor Noah Wyle.

Just as the name seem to be cresting in popularity, the romance movie The Notebook premiered in 2004. The movie, based on the 1996 novel of the same name, tells the story of country boy Noah Calhoun, played by Ryan Gosling, who falls for heiress Allie Hamilton, played by Rachel McAdams. The movie proved to be a sleeper hit, and the strong male lead Noah seems to have reignited the popularity of the name once again.

Choosing a Middle Name and Nickname for Baby Noah

Nicknames for Noah are pretty limited: Most parents probably don't want to call their child "No," if only for the sake of reducing confusion. And it can be tricky to choose a middle name for a two-syllable first name, especially one that ends in a vowel sound, like Noah. It's probably advisable to choose a middle name that doesn't start with an "A." 

If you're looking to stick to the Biblical theme, there are several good options, such as Noah Gabriel or Noah Zachary. In addition, there are many traditional middle names that pair well with Noah, including Noah William, Noah James, and Noah Michael.

Noah-- For a Girl's Name?

While the use of Noah as a girl's name remains limited in American culture, there are a few examples, including Noah Cyrus, sister of Miley and daughter of Billy Ray.

And in the Hebrew tradition, there is precedent for both the names Noah and Jonah for girls. However, it's probably worth noting that the feminine of Noah in Hebrew has an almost opposite meaning to its male counterpart. The feminine "Noa" means "shaky girl," or "lady wanderer."

What to Name Noah's Sibling

If you are looking for another  baby name that pairs well with the name Noah, you might look to other Hebrew or Biblical names, two syllable names, or names beginning with the letter N. For a sister, Hannah, Ruth, Rachel , and Olivia are good choices, and for a brother, Adam, Caleb, Jonah and Nathan are possibilities.


Famous Noahs in History and Popular Culture

There are several well-known Noahs in American popular culture and in American history. was a lexicographer and journalist, responsible for "Americanizing" English spellings of words such as "color" and "center," and for writing a definitive American dictionary. Noah Wyle played Dr. Carter on the show ER, and later starred in the TNT network science fiction series Falling Skies as professor Tom Mason. And Noah Adams has been a National Public Radio correspondent since 1962

Celebrity Babies Named Noah:

As the name grew in popularity, it's no surprise that many celebrity couples have chosen the name Noah for their babies. Actors Megan Fox and Brian Austin Green's first son, born in 2012 is named Noah Shannon Green. And the 2-year-old son of singer Michael Buble is named Noah.

Continue Reading