Amish Cook Gloria Yoder is expecting, and she is thinking about a name for her boy or girl. How do Amish parents decide on a baby name?

Gloria shares her family’s approach – and some common Amish naming conventions – in her latest column:

While some Amish communities stick with using only one name, in our community most of us go by two names besides our last name. My second name is Beth, named after my mother’s girlhood best friend.

Choosing a name for the baby is a highlight. In some Amish communities, names get reused a lot. Naming their little ones after family members or friends, sometimes people start using nicknames to cut down on confusion.

While I like naming my children after people I appreciate, the more significant issue to me is that it is a name with an appropriate meaning that Daniel and I are fully agreed on. I don’t know what the baby will be named as of yet, but I am eager to keep looking for ideas and brainstorming about it.

This time my prayer is that God would show Daniel what the final decision will be. I like the accounts in the Bible where God gave the inspiration for names that fitted the newborn child.

I’m a bit partial to Bible names, yet I don’t feel stuck or bound to them — if we all stick to only those we’ll end up with lots of repeats.

While there are many Godly characters in the Bible, I don’t feel like that makes them superior to all others.

As Gloria notes, names for Amish boys and girls are commonly drawn from the Bible or another family member’s name.

This leads to a lot of repetition. So nicknames and family references can be critical to identifying a person (Karen Johnson-Weiner shared with us how the “Amish Name Game” works in one Swartzentruber community).

We can see that Gloria is open to less-common first names. For that matter, some readers might have noticed that some New Order communities tend to have “nonstandard” first names. Gloria’s is a New Order community.

Amish names in one PA community

Another note is that in some places, rather than a second or middle name, children will simply use an initial – drawn either from the first letter of the father’s first name, or first letter of the mother’s maiden name.

This means that if your father’s name is Samuel, all children in the family, boys and girls, will use “S.” In other places, if your mother’s original last name was Zook, everyone uses a “Z.”

Finally, Gloria’s approach includes one method that we can be sure few if any other Amish use:

Daniel suggested that I invite your input and ideas for baby names. So, if you have some ideas about what may be a good fit for our family, jot them down and pop them in the mail, we’d love that, for sure!

It will be neat to see if the Yoders’ new baby’s name(s) comes from a reader’s inspiration, or some other source.

You might also like:

Get the Amish in your inbox

    Question on the Amish? Get answers to 300+ questions in 41 categories at the Amish FAQ.