About Names: Noah enjoys revival thanks to flood of pop culture references

Noah Cyrus (sister of Miley)

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his June 4th column, he looks at the history of the name Noah.

The first Noah (Hebrew “Noach,” “rest, renewal”) is told by God to build an ark to save his family and many animals from a worldwide flood in the Bible’s Book of Genesis. In early England, Noah was pronounced “Noy”; Noyes and Noyce families had ancestors called Noah. Noah was familiar to medieval Christians through church mystery plays. It was rare as a given name, perhaps because Noah is a comic henpecked husband in these plays. Noy was usually a nickname for someone who’d portrayed the character.

Boys began to be regularly named Noah after the Reformation. It was more popular with Puritans in America than England. Britain’s 1851 census found 3,688 Noahs. The 1850 United States census had 11,313, when the two nations had about the same population.

In 1880, when Social Security’s yearly baby name lists started, Noah ranked 130th. Its long decline bottomed out at 698th in 1963. Noah then rose as a “different but not too different” alternative for other Old Testament fashions like Joshua, Nathan, and Aaron. Bob Seger’s 1969 hit song “Noah” helped.

Want to know more? Read on to find out more about Noahs in history!