Presented by

The Name Benjamin: Son of the South

In the last decade, the name Benjamin has become more popular than ever in the United States − and people have always found it to be one of the more common names. If you like the name and would consider naming your son Benjamin, we recommend this article. Learn all the important facts about Benjamin and why the name is especially interesting if you are a proud resident of the South.

The story of Benjamin

The name Benjamin first appears in the early Old Testament, in the Book of Genesis. Jacob, one of the patriarchs of the Israelites, named his twelfth and youngest son Binyamin. This Hebrew name means ‘son of the right hand’ or also ‘son of the south’. Over the centuries, it evolved into the spelling Benjamin. The biblical Benjamin and his brothers founded their own tribes, the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Benjamin‘s family settled in the area around the city of Jerusalem, more southern than most other families. Therefore, and because of the meaning of the name, Benjamin is a good choice if you want to instill pride in your son’s Southern heritage.

So you see, the history of the name Benjamin goes back a long way. But that does not mean it has always been a popular name. Only after the Protestant Reformation followers of the new Christian orientation gave their sons the name Benjamin. Martin Luther started the Reformation in Germany in 1517. To further distinguish themselves from Catholicism, they abandoned traditional saints’ names in favor of more obscure ones mentioned in the Bible. Other examples of this development include Abraham, Daniel, and Ethan. Probably, the most famous American bearer of the name Benjamin is Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers.

Celebrities called Benjamin

Without him, the list of celebrities would never be complete: Benjamin Franklin lived from 1706 to 1790. He worked as a writer, scientist, politician and many other things. His most famous deeds are guaranteed to include his work on the U.S. Declaration of Independence, which he later signed. But the man on the $100 bill accomplished even more: he dedicated his life to improving the common life. For example, he constructed a new type of wood stove that developed less smoke. This benefited the health of the poor population in particular. He also founded the first volunteer fire departments in Philadelphia and the first lending library in America. These are just a few examples from the legendary life of this great man, who serves as a prime example of social advancement through strength and discipline.

Benjamin Franklin Parker, by the way, is the full name of Uncle Ben, a well-known character from the Spider-Man comics. Not only fictional characters, but also real people of the present are called Benjamin. These include, for example, Benjamin Kowalewicz, singer of the Canadian band Billy Talent, and also Ben Affleck. His full given name is Benjamin Géza. Affleck represents Batman for many today, a role he played in several movies in the 2010s. However, he already managed to become famous abruptly in the 1990s: As a young man, he co-wrote the film ‘Good Will Hunting’ with his friend Matt Damon and won the screenplay Oscar. Since then, the actor has also earned much praise as a director of intelligent thrillers. In 2012 he won his second Oscar as producer of ‘Argo’, this time for Best Picture.

Special facts

The name day of the biblical holy progenitor Benjamin is December 19. The anecdote from the Bible serves also as the origin of the expression ‘the Benjamin of the family’. Since Benjamin happened to be the youngest son, the term often describes the youngest of the family — especially if he turns out to be a few years younger than his other siblings.

The original spelling of the name, Binyamin, explains why Benjamin is also known as a surname: the term bin Yamin refers to a son of Yamin, whose name means ‘right hand’ or ‘south’. In the U.S., Yamin, or Jamin, appears to be a rare name, but may gain prominence in the coming years in the wake of Benjamin‘s popularity. Incidentally, the surname Benjaminson may also be known in English-speaking countries.

Long names often inspire people to many pet names, as in this case: Ben, Benny or Bennie are just a few examples. In recent years, Benji attracted particular attention. It began to exist as a proper name in the 1970s, and has been gaining popularity since the 2010s. In this country, the name occurs frequently in California; outside the U.S., Australians and New Zealanders in particular find it beautiful. Benji, by the way, serves as a comedic sidekick in the ‘Mission: Impossible’ movies, played by Simon Pegg. Also, Benji is a coveted dog name, which probably has to do with the movie series about the fictional dog. The stray dog Benji rescues kidnapped children. In 1974, the first film of the series was released in theaters, which still has its fans today.

Benjamin in the 21st century

Now you have read a lot of background on Benjamin, but what is the current situation? Currently, almost 800,000 people in the USA bear this name. That does not sound like a lot when you consider the total population. But statistically, every 430th person you meet on the street or while shopping is named Benjamin. That’s a lot, so it comes as no surprise that Benjamin happens to be one of the most popular names in the country — currently as well as over the past 50 years.

This beautiful name experienced its least popular period in 1960, when it only ranked 152 according to our SmartGenius statistics. Many other names dream of reaching this ranking one day! In the late 19th century, Benjamin came close to the top ten, then faded a bit. But since the 1970s, this traditional name regained the top spots. In 2016, Benjamin finally cracked the top ten. Since then, it has held steady there. Overall, Benjamin counts as one of the most popular names of all time.