About Names: Rachel is a name with a crazy rich history

Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his August  14th column, he looks at the history of the name Rachel.

Rachel is Hebrew for “ewe.” In the Bible’s Genesis, Jacob falls in love with Rachel, but is tricked by her father into marrying older sister Leah. After seven more years, he gets to marry Rachel, too. She later gives birth to Joseph and Benjamin, Jacob’s favorite sons.

In medieval Europe, Rachel was only used by Jewish families. After the Reformation, it was one of the first Old Testament names adopted by Protestants. In the 1540s, the first decade English churches recorded all baptisms, Rachel ranked 39th. Susanna (at 30th) was the only Old Testament name above it.

In the US, newborn Rachels tripled between 1965 and 1970, when it ranked 58th. Rachel made the top 20 in 1983. Rachel’s final boost was from “Friends.” Debuting in September 1994, it made Jennifer Aniston a star as ditzy fashionista Rachel Green. In 1996, Rachel peaked at No. 9 for babies.

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