From a recent Anaheim Ducks video-tweet in which former football player Troy Aikman addressed his namesake, hockey player Troy Terry (b. 1997):
How cool are we to have the name Troy, first of all. Now I know why your parents named you Troy, so it makes me feel really proud. But what makes me feel even prouder is the fact that the Ducks organization has given me the honor to let you know that, for the second consecutive year, you my friend are an NHL All-Star.
“A name for me is a shortcut, it’s an efficient way of working out what class that child comes from. Do I want my children to play with them?”
“I tend to think children that have intelligent names tend to have fairly intelligent parents and they make much better play dates, therefore, for my children.”
“I don’t judge people on their surnames but certainly I do make a very quick decision based on their first names and there’s a whole bunch of first names that I don’t like. I don’t like footballers’ names, I don’t like names after seasons of the year, I don’t like geographical location names, celebrity names, things like Apple.”
(Ironically, one of Katie’s three children is named India.)
Born on a farm on Sept. 18, 1828, in Norway, New York, Algernon Sidney Coe defied all expectations to become a respected and admired physician in Oswego City.
Coe, the son of Ira Coe, a War of 1812 veteran, and Elizabeth Norton, was named after Algernon Sidney who was executed in 1683 in England for his outspoken views on freedom of speech. Sidney was considered a martyr by American thinkers such as Thomas Jefferson and John Adams.
There’s buzz about Beers at FIU [Florida International University].
The buzz started when Panthers coach Mike MacIntyre announced on Dec. 21 that FIU had signed the player with “the best name in college football.”
That would be 6-5, 225-pound tight end and Colorado native Rowdy Beers, who is from Littleton, which is nine miles south. of downtown Denver.
“As a kid,” Beers said, “any time I told my name to a new authority figure, they thought I was being disrespectful.”
Beers, who was named after three-time Olympic gold-medalist swimmer Rowdy Gaines, had right shoulder surgery on Dec. 29 but is expected to be ready by mid-May.
(Rowdy Beers also has three R-named siblings: Rocky, Raegan, and Rylie. Rowdy Gaines, however, is only nicknamed “Rowdy.” He was born Ambrose Gaines IV in 1959 — the year the baby name Rowdy debuted in the U.S. baby name data thanks to Rawhide.)
Our band’s namesake, Mr. Marshall Tucker, passed away peacefully yesterday morning at the age of 99. Though he was never a member of our band, we wouldn’t be here today without his historic name. In the early days when we were rehearsing in an old warehouse in Spartanburg, we found a keychain inscribed with his name. We needed a name asap… and the rest is history! Marshall was blind since birth but amazingly could play the heck out of the piano. He always said his talent was simply God-given. He tuned pianos in South Carolina for decades.
(The story behind Super Mario’s name, in Name quotes #111, also happens to involve a warehouse.)
Amongst the many topics discussed when Kendrick Lamar strolled through Arsenio Hall’s reinvented television series, the Compton rapper revealed that he’s named after one of the members of the iconic Motown group, the Temptations. While gushing over old school music, K Dot unveiled that his mother named him after Eddie Kendricks, the group’s distinctive falsetto singer.
For more quotes about names, check out the name quotes category.
The simplest answer is “Biblical names,” but that’s not the full answer.
Because certain Biblical names are preferred over others, and Biblical names aren’t used exclusively.
Plus, the prevalence of a name could vary depending upon the specific Amish settlement you’re talking about.
I’ve gathered about 100 of the most common Amish names below. Before we get into specifics, though, here’s a bit of background on the Amish…
Who are the Amish?
The Amish are an Anabaptist group that intentionally maintain a degree of separation from the wider world. They wear plain clothing, eschew modern conveniences (like cars), and partake in traditional occupations such as farming, carpentry, blacksmithing, and (for women) homemaking.
The Anabaptist movement began in Europe in the 1520s, at the time of the Protestant Reformation. The Anabaptists were particularly known for the practice of adult baptism. They were also opposed to war, and they believed in the separation of church and state.
Considered radicals, the Anabaptists were widely persecuted.
In 1693, the Swiss branch of the Anabaptist movement (a.k.a., the Swiss Brethren) experienced a schism. Those who followed reformer Jacob Amman came to be known as the Amish, whereas those who did not came to be known as the Mennonites (after Dutchman Menno Simons, one of the original Anabaptist leaders).
In the early 1700s, many Amish (and Mennonites) immigrated to the New World — specifically to the Province of Pennsylvania, which had been founded upon the principle of religious freedom.
Today, over 367,000 Amish live in the U.S., and roughly two-thirds of them reside in three states: Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana.
Common Amish names
The most comprehensive source of Amish names I came across was also the oldest, so let’s go through all the sources chronologically.
In 1960, researcher Elmer L. Smith published data on the most common male and female names among the Amish of southeastern Pennsylvania from 1890 to 1956.
The 1,337 Amish males in the study shared a total of just 72 different first names. Over a quarter of the males had one of the top three names (John, Amos, or Jacob), and over 81% had one of the top 20 names.
The 1,356 Amish females in the study shared even fewer first names: only 55. Over a quarter of the females had one of the top three names (Mary, Sarah, or Annie), and over 88% had a top-20 name.
According to Smith’s research, these were the 20 most common names per gender (plus their frequency of usage):
Amish female names
Amish male names
*Annie was ranked below Sarah in the research paper, but this seems to be a typo, given the percentages.
Smith also wrote the following:
Other given names for males may reflect the important place the martyred forefathers hold in the minds of the sect members. The given name Menno is frequently found; this honors Menno Simmons [sic] an early leader of the plain sects. Ammon is also quite common, and is traced to Jacob Amman for whom the Amish sect is named; otherwise given names are from the Bible.
(Menno, a form of the Dutch name Meine, can be traced back to the Old High German word magan, meaning “strength.” The occupational surname Amman(n), which was derived from the German word amtmann, originally referred to someone employed as an official or administrator.)
A couple of years after Smith’s study came out, Dr. William Schreiber (a professor at the College of Wooster in Ohio) published a book about the Amish of east-central Ohio. In one paragraph, he mentioned some of the names he’d encountered:
One learns here that the good old biblical names are still common with the Amish but are in competition with modern or more euphonious ones. The names of the children of large families are often a study in contrasts. In one family there are, for example, Benjamin, Samuel, Isaac, Stephen, John, Israel, Christ, Barbara, Mary, Hannah, Annie, Mattie, and Lizzie. Another family has chosen these names for its children: Sarah, Lizzie, Samuel, Benjamin, John, Annie, Marie, Daniel, David, Enos, Sylvia, and Malinda. Then there are three Amish brothers named Isaac, Levi, and Elmer. One wonders how Vesta, Delila, Dena, Saloma, Drusilla, or Verba, or boys’ names like Junie, Venus, or Aquilla came into strict Christian families?
Speaking of east-central Ohio, Barbara Yoder Hall — who was born in 1940 and grew up with ten siblings in the Amish community of Holmes County — recalled in her book Born Amish (1980) the following first names:
First names for girls are usually Cora, Mattie, Annie, Lizzie, Barbara, Fannie, Katie, Mary, Naomi, Emma, Jemima, Ella, Sarah, Levina and Mandy.
First names for boys are John, Mose, Ferdinand, Dannie, Sam, Amos, Albert, Emanual, Levi, Rudy, Enos, Eli, Jacob and Joseph.
Now for a pair of sources from the digital age…
The website Amish America, run by Erik Wesner (who is not Amish, but has visited Amish communities in 15 different states), lists the following names as being common among the Amish. He found many of the male names in Raber’s Almanac, which “contains a listing of Amish church ministers,” while many of the female names came from various church directories.
Common Amish female names
Common Amish male names
Elizabeth Emma Fannie Hannah Katie Linda Lizzie Lovina/Lavina Martha Mary Miriam Naomi Rebecca Ruby Ruth Sadie Sarah Waneta
Abram Amos Atlee Eli Elmer Harley Isaac Jacob John Lavern Leroy Mark Melvin Mervin Samuel Vernon Wayne Willis
Some of Erik’s commentary…
Eli: “You see a lot of Elis among Amish, but not many Elijahs.”
Leroy: “Seems to be more common in Midwestern communities.”
Lizzie: “Lizzie is a popular form in some Pennsylvania communities.”
Naomi: “Amish, at least in Lancaster County, pronounce this ‘Nay-oh-mah.'”
Ruby: “Quite a few Rubies in northern Indiana.”
Vernon: “[P]retty common in places like northern Indiana and Holmes County, Ohio.”
Finally, according to the blog Amish Heritage, written by a woman named Anna (who grew up Amish in Pennsylvania), common Amish names include…
Common Amish female names
Common Amish male names
Amanda Anna/Annie Barbara Betty Clara Edna Elizabeth Esther Fannie Hannah Lavina Lena Lydia Malinda Martha Mary Miriam Naomi Priscilla Rachel Rebecca Ruth Sadie Sarah Susie
Aaron Abner Abram Amos Benuel Christian/Christ Daniel David Eli Elmer Emmanuel Henry Isaac Jacob John Jonas Leroy Lloyd Mark Melvin Mervin Moses Omar Paul Samuel Steven/Stephen Vernon
Both websites noted that some Amish communities (particularly New Order Amish communities) have recently started giving their children less traditional first names.
So how do these lists square with what we’ve observed in the U.S. baby name data?
It’s hard to tell with historically popular names like Mary and John, but we can see some interesting things when we focus on relatively rare names.
For instance, the names Atlee, Benuel, Delila, Dena, Lavina, Menno, Saloma, and Willis have all been mentioned recently in my posts about names with a high degree of state specificity (2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021). As you’d expect, they were associated with the states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and/or Indiana. (Benuel, in fact, has only ever appeared in the Pennsylvania data — going all the way back to the 1940s.)
Several of the other names — including Amos, Elam, Fannie, Malinda, and Mervin — saw higher usage in Pennsylvania than in any other state in 2021.
I was surprised that none of my sources listed the name Barbie. Most of them mentioned Barbara (one of them was even named Barbara), and all of them included nicknames (like Lizzie). But Barbara’s diminutive form was curiously absent — even though most of its usage occurs in Pennsylvania:
Girls named Barbie, U.S.
Girls named Barbie, Penn.
Rhoda and Mahlon are two more names that I somewhat expected to see.
Ammon is a very interesting case, because the name also has significance to an entirely different religious group: the Mormons. (The Book of Mormon features two prominent figures named Ammon.) From the 1910s to the 1960s, the name Ammon — much like Benuel — only appeared in the Pennsylvania data. Since the 1980s, though, the state with the largest number of baby boys named Ammon has been Utah.
What are your thoughts on the first names used by the Amish? Which of the above do you like the most?
And, for anyone out there with close ties to an Amish family/community: What other names would you add to this list?
P.S. This post is dedicated to my delightful commenters alex and Andrea. :)
According to the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA), the most popular baby names in Northern Ireland last year were Grace and Jack.
Here are the Northern Ireland’s top 50 girl names and top 50+ boy names of 2021:
Grace, 182 baby girls
Evie, 92 (tie)
Freya, 92 (tie)
Erin, 76 (3-way tie)
Molly, 76 (3-way tie)
Rosie, 76 (3-way tie)
Meabh, 61 (tie)
Niamh, 61 (tie)
Hannah, 55 (tie)
Ivy, 55 (tie)
Cara, 54 (tie)
Clodagh, 54 (tie)
Georgia, 52 (4-way tie)
Harper, 52 (4-way tie)
Jessica, 52 (4-way tie)
Zara, 52 (4-way tie)
Chloe, 51 (tie)
Rose, 51 (tie)
Alice, 49 (3-way tie)
Daisy, 49 (3-way tie)
Mollie, 49 (3-way tie)
Saoirse, 45 (tie)
Sienna, 45 (tie)
Jack, 193 baby boys
Oisin, 109 (tie)
Thomas, 109 (tie)
Darragh, 78 (3-way tie)
Ethan, 78 (3-way tie)
Ronan, 78 (3-way tie)
Alfie, 76 (tie)
Archie, 76 (tie)
George, 66 (3-way tie)
Isaac, 66 (3-way tie)
Mason, 66 (3-way tie)
Matthew, 65 (tie)
Reuben, 65 (tie)
Conan, 64 (3-way tie)
Fionn, 64 (3-way tie)
Luke, 64 (3-way tie)
Jake, 61 (tie)
Joseph, 61 (tie)
Logan, 60 (3-way tie)
Odhran, 60 (3-way tie)
Oscar, 60 (3-way tie)
Liam, 58 (3-way tie)
Lucas, 58 (3-way tie)
Max, 58 (3-way tie)
Joshua, 55 (tie)
Theodore, 55 (tie)
In the girls’ top 10, Aoife and Anna replaced Amelia, Lucy and Freya. (Two replaced three because there was a tie for tenth last year.)
In the boys’ top 10, Leo replaced Thomas.
And on the other side of the spectrum…
Northern Ireland’s downloadable data only goes down to names given to 3 babies, technically, but this batch of data — like the 2020 batch — included two extra alphabetized sets of names at the end. I believe these sets of names were the ones given to 2 babies and 1 baby, respectively. With that theory in mind, here’s a sampling of names from the second set: