The Coming of Kerith

literature, 1960s, kerith, baby name

In 1967, the baby name Kerith debuted in the U.S. baby name data:

  • 1970: 18 baby girls named Kerith
  • 1969: 15 baby girls named Kerith
  • 1968: 20 baby girls named Kerith
  • 1967: 12 baby girls named Kerith [debut]
  • 1966: unlisted

The source? The Source — a 1965 novel set in ancient Israel. It was written by James Michener, who had written Sayonara about a decade earlier.

Kerith was a character featured in the early chapter “Psalm of the Hoopoe Bird,” which was set during the reign of King David specifically. Kerith was the wife of the chapter’s central character, an engineer named Jabaal (but nicknamed Hoopoe, after the bird). Jabaal worshiped Baal, but Kerith, who was Hebrew, worshiped Yahweh. By the end of the chapter, she had given up her husband and children in order to live in Jerusalem.

“Kerith” is also found in the Hebrew Bible as a place name (sometimes spelled “Cherith”). It’s a wadi where the prophet Elijah hid during a drought. The word can be traced back to a Hebrew root meaning “cut.”

What are your thoughts on the baby name Kerith?

2 thoughts on “The Coming of Kerith

  1. Interesting! I went to high school with a Cherith (born around ’77), and I always wondered where the name came from. She pronounced it like share-ith, so I suspect in her case it was Biblical rather than from the novel.

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