Noah is currently THE first name in the USA. It is incredibly old and many people associate it with Noah's Ark from the Old Testament. How did this traditional name manage to become more popular than ever before in the fast-paced 21st century?
The name derived from the Hebrew Noach which means ‘rest’ or ‘repose’. The origin of the word is not entirely clear, but it most likely comes from the Sumerian word ‘nukhu’, meaning ‘rest’. In England, Noah has been in common use since the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century. It proved to be a permanent fixture since the early days of the United States. However, Noah did not enjoy any particular popularity. Throughout history, many people bore the name Noah, but it was not until the 1990s that the name really took off.
Today, Noah as a first name exists in many variations around the world. In Arabic, for example, the name is Nūḥ, in Turkish and Indonesian Nuh, in Somali Nuux, or in Lithuanian Nojus. The most common variants are the feminine Noa and Noe, which enrich the languages Bulgarian, Greek, Polish, Portuguese, and Spanish, for example. In addition, Noah is a common surname outside the United States in France and in some African countries such as Somalia, Nigeria, and Cameroon.
The story of the Flood and Noah‘s Ark is one of the most famous in the Bible. God planned to wipe out sinful humanity, sparing only Noah and his family because they were righteous. Noah built the ark to save two of each animal to repopulate the earth after the flood. Noah and God made a new covenant in which God promised never to let another flood occur. As a sign of His promise, He created the rainbow to remind people of His grace in the future.
Since Noah tose to extreme popularity since the 1990s, there will probably be significantly more VIPs with this name in the future than there are nowadays. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any, after all, there has always been someone with this name. A well-known example of the early 20th century is Noah Lewis, a harmonica virtuoso and a central figure in the jug band scene. Noahs have also made their mark in the film industry, such as director Noah Baumbach and, most recently, actor Noah Centineo.
Who else should every American know? The answer is Noah Webster. He was a lexicographer, translator, and writer who was born in West Hartford, Connecticut in 1758 and died in New Haven, Connecticut in 1843. Webster, like many, strove for American independence, which also had to be culturally established after 1776. His goal was to form a national language distinct from British English. He simplified it − ‘color’ instead of ‘colour’ or ‘center’ instead of ‘centre’ − and thus founded the American orthography as we know it today.
And, of course, there’s Noah Galloway, a former soldier and current motivational speaker. He is famous for his participation in the 20th season of ‘Dancing with the Stars’ in 2015, where he finished third with his partner. This is all the more impressive since he lost his left arm and leg in the line of duty. At least since he graced the cover of ‘Men’s Health’, Galloway became an American symbol of strength and resilience.
In the wake of the name’s surge in popularity, girls are also being named Noah. A well-known example is the singer and actress Noah Cyrus, a sister of Miley Cyrus, born in 2000. The USA is a worldwide exception, otherwise Noah is only known as a boy’s name.
Noah‘s popularity skyrocketed in the 1990s, and now more than 20,000 newborns are given the melodious name each year. 1.1% of all boys born in the U.S. in the last 10 years are named Noah. That puts Noah at #1 in our SmartGenius statistics! There are representatives of the name in every single state, and they are especially common in Nevada, where 0.6% of all residents are named Noah. Noah also experiences unprecedented growth in numerous other countries. Our neighbor Canada has also seen a boom since the 1990s, which eventually rubbed off on Europe. In the 2000s, the popularity of the name increased significantly in France, Germany, Ireland and Italy. Australia has also been in the grip of Noah fever for several years.
So how is it that this traditional name is so incredibly popular in the technologized 21st century of all places? As is often the case with names, the answer lies in the movies. Americans are crazy about movies, and at the latest since ‘Gone With the Wind’ (1939), movie characters have served as inspiration for naming their own children. In the case of Noah, the famous series ‘ER’ (1994 – 2009) filled this role. It made not only George Clooney, but also Noah Wyle famous. The incipient boom intensified once again in 2004, when the movie ‘The Notebook’ melted numerous hearts. Ryan Gosling earned his status as a movie star in the role of Noah Calhoun.