Amish Male Names: 10 Common & 10 Rare Ones

Male Amish First Names

What would you say are the most common Amish men’s names?

As we saw in the Amish Name Game post, names repeat themselves among the Amish–not just surnames, but first names as well.

Unsurprisingly, Biblical names are popular among the Amish, both from the Old and New Testament. Some given names, however, have little or no connection with the Bible.

Below, you’ll find ten men’s and boys’ first names frequently seen in Amish communities. Since Amish give their children a variety of names, I’ve chosen five Biblically-based names, and five with different origins.

I’ve also included ten uncommon names at the end.

Background information on names is taken from A Dictionary of First Names by Patrick Hanks, Kate Hardcastle & Flavia Hodges unless otherwise noted.

10 Common Male Amish First Names

  1. Samuel – Could this be the most popular men’s name among the Amish? A Hebrew origin name. Samuel was an important Old Testament judge and prophet, who anointed both Saul and David as kings. Quite common in Lancaster County, to name one community.
  2. Amos – Another from the Old Testament, Amos was an eighth-century prophet with a Biblical book bearing his name.
  3. Leroy – according to A Dictionary of First Names, “now considered a typically African-American given name”, Leroy is also quite popular among the Amish. Seems to be more common in Midwestern communities. A non-biblical name, this is from a French nickname meaning “the king.”
  4. JohnJohanan (meaning “God is gracious”) is the name in Hebrew, while its Latin form is Io(h)annes. It probably owes much popularity to important Biblical Johns like John the Baptist and the Apostle John. The Dictionary of First Names describes it as “the most perennially popular of all Christian names” in it various forms across different languages.
  5. Elmer – use in America dates to the 19th century, and was popularized by Ebenezer and Jonathan Elmer, “leading activists in the American Revolution.” Originally derived from Old English personal name based on the words æþel (noble) and mær (famous). Neither of those origin stories feel very “Amish”, but nonetheless this is a common name in Amish communities.
  6. Wayne – Also derived from Old English, but its roots feel much plainer, as it comes from an occupational surname with the meaning “wagon maker” based on the Old English word wægn (wagon).
  7. Jacob – Another very common name among the Amish, perhaps reflecting Jacob’s Biblical importance. Father of the Twelve Tribes of Israel.
  8. Vernon – Apparently an aristocratic surname which originates from a French place name, which later made it to England. Not the most common on this list, but pretty common in places like northern Indiana and Holmes County, Ohio.
  9. Eli – Old Testament priest and judge. You see a lot of Elis among Amish, but not many Elijahs.
  10. Mervin – An Anglicized form of the Welsh name Merfyn. Other forms are Mervyn or Merwin (I have yet to see any Amish men spell it that way). Similar-sounding names common among Amish are Marvin, Ervin, and Merlin.

10 Uncommon Amish Men’s Names

Some Amish parents break the mold and opt for more obscure names for their children.

The following uncommon first names were all found in minister listings in the latest Raber’s Almanac.

I’ve included background on some from the Dictionary of First Names. Quite a few aren’t listed there, however.

Perhaps some are short or colloquial forms of names (perhaps some are typos?). In a few places I added my own speculations on these unusual names.

If you’re familiar with any of these names, let us know in the comments.

  1. Iddo – This appeared a couple of times among the ministers. I’ve never met an Iddo (I’m sure I would have remembered). Another source says Iddo was a prophet appearing in the Book of Chronicles. Other Iddos appear in Ezra and Zechariah.
  2. Wollie – I have no idea. An alternate spelling of Wally?
  3. Hannes – Short for Johannes? Feels very German.
  4. Jethro  – Biblical name, the father of Moses’ wife Zipporah.
  5. Melbern – Maybe…this is a nickname for Mel, from Berne, Indiana?
  6. Leander  – Latin form of the Greek Leandros. A 6th-century Catholic bishop of Seville.
  7. Phenis – A form of Phineas? A typo?
  8. Aquilla  – The one unusual name on this list I’d personally seen among Amish before. Latin-origin name meaning “eagle”. In the New Testament, one-l “Aquila” was married to Priscilla, and worked with the Apostle Paul.
  9. Absalom – Biblical name, likely meaning of “father of peace” in Hebrew. According to the Dictionary of First Names, “The name has never been particularly common in the English-speaking world.”
  10. Arden – I know a (non-Amish) Darden, but have never heard of Arden before. Some sources say this is a female name, but I guess it is unisex.

Hope you enjoyed that. If so, we’ll do Amish women’s names as well.

What other Amish men’s names would you add to these lists, common or uncommon?
Image credit: Lauren Futch

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    65 Comments

    1. tammy

      We have met an Iddo, Jethro (he was the one that rented us the Amish house) and Aquilla. We also knew Roman, Monroe, Mahlon, Ira, Stephen, Atley, Isaac. Isaiah, Lester, Levi, and Toby.

      1. Interesting Tammy. Two other names that aren’t too common but I particularly like are Malva and Ola.

        But Ola trips me up sometimes because in Polish it is the diminutive form of the female name Aleksandra. I only know one Amish Ola.

        1. Marcus Yoder

          He has a son named Ola. I always liked his dads name Christian Jeremiah.

          1. Mary-Ann Cupples

            Christian/Xtian

            Years ago I heard of a Mennonite/Amish? artist named Xtian Newswanger. I had heard rightly or wrongly that he spelled his name like that because the name “Christ” was not allowed to be spoken or written because it used the name of God in vain. However, I thought he pronounced the name “Christian?” So maybe it was just his way of being different with his name and spelling and nothing to do with saying the Lord’s name in vain??? I kind of like the spelling in any case AND when I looked up the pronunciation it pronounced it Ex-tee-an NOT Christian. I thought it was an Amish/Mennonite thing.

      2. pilgrim

        Tammy,,,,

        Tammy , the names which you mentioned are from the Dixon Missouri , Amish Community,,,right????
        I know some of them too, but have not heard from them in a Long time ….
        I know the Bishop’s Ex Amish Son and family in Kentucky,,,,would love hearing more about that area….e-mail at followjesusonly@gmail.com

    2. Carl Oliver

      Names

      Here in Buchanan county Iowa we definitely have a lot of the names you mentioned. I would add Rudy, Andy, Jonas, and Reuben.

      1. Good familiar names. Here’s what I found for Rudy, or Rudolf, at behindthename.com:

        Rudolf- From the Germanic name Hrodulf, which was derived from the elements hrod “fame” and wulf “wolf”.

        Dictionary of First Names gives it as “Hrodwulf”, but with a line over the “o”.

    3. Gretchen Troyer H

      My sons’ names are Levi, Jacob, Micah, Samuel, Caleb, and Noah, and I get asked all the time if I chose Amish names. We chose Biblical names on purpose, but weren’t thinking of Amish names specifically. (My first son’s name is Troyer, which I guess technically is Amish!)

      1. Nice, I like Troyer as a first name. Of your other sons, Levi, Jacob, Samuel, and Noah are all common among Amish, while Caleb and Micah not really. I’ve never figured out why certain Biblical names enjoy popularity among Amish and others not so much or not at all.

        John, as I’ve mentioned above, is a very common name. Of the other three Gospel writers, Mark is probably the next-most common, followed by Matthew (have only come across a few Matthews among Amish). I don’t think I’ve ever met or heard of an Amish Luke.

        1. Gretchen Troyer H

          We chose Troyer because my father had three girls and no sons to carry on his name. My older sister used his first name, I used his last name, and the third sister used his middle name! His middle name is Gideon, by the way, which did come to him through his Amish roots (Gideon was his grandfather’s middle name, and his great-grandfather’s first name).

          While doing family history research, I’ve come across some very unusual girls’ names; some sound like they were just made up! I hope you will write a companion post with girls’ names.

          1. What a nice tribute Gretchen. I am planning to do a female names as well, just got an email from someone requesting it too.

    4. Deedra

      Mens names

      My favorite around here is Benuel.We have a few of them.

    5. Slightly-handled-Order-man

      I guess some of these names that are more common are family names, would you say? I know in my own family certain names seems to repeat themselves over family history.

      On an off topic note, I got distracted by a lot of things and haven’t given a lot of time replying to Amish American, I’ve read and “lurked”, this story intrigues me

      1. Shom, first, how nice to hear from you again. I was just wondering the other day if you were still out there.

        I do think family naming traditions have a lot to do with particular names persisting over the generations. People get their uncles’ and aunts’ and grandparents’ names. The interesting part, which is harder to know, is when and how a given name entered the Amish.

        Putting myself in the theoretical outsider’s shoes who knows little about the Amish, I’d probably assume Amish names were all Biblical. But as we see, a lot aren’t.

    6. Harriet

      Common names

      Roman, Mahlon, Mervin, and Amos are all common in the Allen County area. I really enjoyed this article, and would love to see the female names. I’ll bet Katie tops the list! Speaking of people who we haven’t heard from lately, where is Mark?

      1. Mark

        I don’t know Harriet, we haven’t heard from him in awhile. Hopefully if he reads this he’ll know he’s missed around here.

        Look for a 10 female names list next week.

    7. Karen Johnson-Weiner

      Some good Swartzentruber names: Harvey, Gideon, Mose (Moses), Enos, Henry–I know a lot of these! I’ve never met a Swartzentruber Wayne, Leroy, Vernon, or Mervin. (Of course, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any!)

      1. Agree with Swartzie Names

        Yep, Karen, I have 3 Harveys in my life now. And a Mosie (Moses), Levi, Jonas, & a Monroe.

    8. Debbie W

      In Lancaster I’ve come across two people named Omar. No idea how they came to use that name. Also, my friend’s don’s name is Daniel-Lee. Daniel is quite popular but Lee, not quite sure. Two names together as a first name is quite unusual I would think.

      1. Omar

        That one surprised me too Debbie. You’ve also got Omer, and Homer. Here’s a snippet from Wikipedia on the name:

        “Omar, Omer, Ömer or Umar (Arabic: عمر‎, Hebrew: עומר‎), is a male given name of Arabic and Hebrew origin, mentioned in the Book of Genesis. It is a common name in Arab and Muslim territories and populations in general, as well as in Spanish-speaking countries.”

        The Dictionary of First Names adds that it apparently means “talkative” in Hebrew.

        1. Gretchen Troyer H

          I found two men named Carlos in my family tree; I wasn’t aware of any Hispanic heritage.

    9. Debbie W

      Sorry. It should be my friend’s son’s name

    10. Shirley Chapel

      One of the writers of the book Plain Faith was once an Amish man. His name is Ora Jay. I guess that would be first name and middle name. But both names are used in the true story they wrote about their life.
      His wife Irene referred to him as Ora Jay.

    11. Barb Zimmerman

      Amish Men Names

      Around here Levi, Benjamin, Matthew, Mark, Luke, Jesse, David, Lyle.

    12. RC

      It’s funny – pop culture has ‘Jebediah’ as the stereotypical Amish name, but in all my reading, I don’t think I’ve come across a single occurrence of it in real life. At most, I think some conservative Amish groups might be more likely to use longer, less common Biblical names – in a couple of news stories about Amish opposition to SMV triangles, I’ve seen the names Ananias and ‘Hecekiah’ (presumably a variant spelling or journalistic misspelling of Hezekiah).

      1. Jebediah

        I think Weird Al’s Amish Paradise video helped that along, Jebediah and Jacob were two names he used. You’re right, never heard of an Amish Jebediah.

    13. Terry from Wisc

      Mens names

      How about Felty, Firman, Freeman, Aden, Marion, Alvin is popular, Ura, Uriah, Urias, Melvin, Marvin, Mervin, Mahlon, Milan, Ora..Orrie for short..,Perry, Mose or Moses, Toby, Tobias, Tobe, John, Samuel, Calvin, Amos, Levi, Ely, Lester, Leroy, Jacob, William…not Bill, Martin, Marty or just Mart, Chester or Chet, Titus, Cletus, Lewis, Christ, Jack, Jackie, Jeckie, Henry, Enos, Jonas, Joni(pronounced Joe-ni, Delmar, LaVern, LaMar, Menno, Owen, Abe, Atlee, Aaron, Albert, Andy…just to name a few!

      Many of these names are men I personally know. The Budget came today so I found some others.

    14. Jane Staiger

      Common Amish Men's Names and Rare Ones

      My son in law is a fireman in Glen Burnie MD. In his house is an Amish man. His name is Esh. He told my son in law that when he visits his parents, he must dress in the clothes he left home in, and bring no electronics in the home. His parents were not allowed to attend his graduation from the Fire Academy. They are very much old school, they do farming. I look forward to meeting him the next time I visit the fire house with goodies.

    15. Katie Troyer

      Where is David and Daniel and Paul?

    16. Al in Ky

      Other Amish names — Oba (also called Obie), Joas, Josie (have
      met several Josies through the years). I was surprised when I first met an Amish man named Josie, because I had always thought of that as a woman’s name. Also I think Menno, Enos, and Christ (pronounced with a short “i”, not long “i” like Jesus Christ)are
      quite common.

      1. “Christ King” is a name you sometimes see in Lancaster County. But as you say, short-i “Christ”, not long i.

        1. Gretchen Troyer H

          I think Christ must be short for Christian.

    17. Katrina

      My ancestors were Amish and one male ancestor was named “Plesa” We believe the name comes from the Old Testament, but we are not sure which part.

    18. Susan

      10 common amish men's names

      Knew a Phineas in Reno County, Kansas (yoder) but he recently passed. He had an “antique” shop and had interesting things for sale. His name was pronounced Feenis, but spelled Phineas. Also know an Atley there. My grandpa was Enos and great grandpa was Shem.

    19. Nicholas

      The name Hannes is short for the German Johannes. I knew a man who went by Hannes when I was in the German choir in Fort Wayne. He immigrated from Germany to Indiana some years ago and was a Tischler (carpenter or woodworker, as in one who makes furniture)by trade. I once was made aware that the name John is Sean in Irish Gaelic, Ian in Scottish Gaelic, Jean in French, Johannes and Johann in German, Jan in Polish and some other Slavic languages, and Ivan in Russian. All were derived from the Hebrew Yochanan (ch as in “J.S. Bach”). Perhaps some of the odder names are German derivatives of Bible names? Just guessing there. Blessings.

      1. Thanks Nicholas, and for the variations of “John”. My middle name is “Jan”, and that was also my grandfather’s first name.

        1. Terry from Wisc

          It's all in the name...

          I looked up Jan in th elist of Norwegian names and this is what I found. “Jan” male..Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Czech, Polish, Slovene, German, Catalan
          Form of JOHANNES. This name was borne by the 15th-century Flemish painter Jan van Eyck and the 17th-century Dutch painter Jan Vermeer.

          Hey Erik, Our Eric is with a c instead of a k so he wouldn’t have to correct everyone who would write his name! lol!

          Have you ever watched Dr Pol the vet who is on Sat night? His name is Jan and he’s from Holland. We had a dr in town who was Jan. A friend told me years ago that when you find a name for the baby that is on the way, you holler it out the back door and if it has a good flow to it, then use it! lol So, your name I feel goes better as Eric Yahn instead of Eric Jan. Our kid is Eric Andrew, and he has 3 sibs that are Emily, Evan and Elden!

          1. Mine often becomes Erik with a “c” when others write it, but that doesn’t bother me. The best is when the last name gets messed up too, so I become “Eric Western”. Sounds like a Viking cowboy character 🙂

            I have not seen Dr. Pol.

        2. Nicholas

          That’s neat that you have your grandfather’s name.

    20. Osiah Horst

      I am not Amish but Mennonite, which is very similar. I have never heard of an Amish Osiah but where I come from my name is fairly common. I have a grandson Shaphan Isaac. Shaphan was chief scribe for King Josiah and helped him with the great reformation. Isaac is a more common name – someone wondered what my son was expecting of his son considering who the biblical Shaphan was. And Isaac, well around here he is known as a “famous Mennonite historian.” Luke and Leander are fairly common names here. Fermon, Tilman, Angus, Amsey, Benjamin, Elo, and Ivan are other names in use by Ontario Old Order Mennonites.

    21. Don Curtis

      Common Amish Men's Names

      I asked Mark what some of the common Amish names are in the Belle Center area. He said that all of the following names are used more than once in the community: Daniel, Marvin, James, Chester, Levi, Matthew, Mahlon, Steven, Curtis, Conrad, Joseph, Thomas, Nathan, Leon, Mark, Samuel, Paul,

    22. Victoria

      Hannes

      My husband’s boss is German (and still lives in Europe). His name is Hans Joachim, but everyone called him Hannes.

    23. Deb Simmering

      Amish Names

      Around where I live, we have Jonah, Marvin, Jeb, Josiah, David, Daniel, Eli, John. I went to school with an Arden and he wasn’t even Amish.

    24. Melissa Hedge

      Names

      My kids are: Elizabeth, Rebekah, Micah Josiah, and Hannah…we often get comments regarding their names, especially Rebekah’s and Micah’s. My brother-in-law even commented that, “Some Amish man is missing his name.” when my son was born (we were living just outside Philly at that time, and of course, my BIL knew of my fascination of the Amish.)

    25. Jennifer

      Henry and Stephen

      I am surprised that David, Henry, and Stephen did not make the list. I have several distant relatives between the Yoder’s and Troyer’s named Henry and David.

      1. This is just “common” names, not “most common”, so they definitely could be on this list.

    26. Kay Stahl

      I looked up the names in the Church and Family Directory of the Upper Valleys of Pennsylvania for our area (South White Deer District). The most common male names were: Elmer, Benjamin, Stephen(Steven), John (Jonathan), Emmanuel, Samuel, Henry, Daniel and Isaac. The more uncommon ones were: Bena, Phares, Arie, Chester, Lloyd, Leon, Norman, Jerry and Melvin.

      1. Kay thanks for sharing this here and on the other posts about the Upper Valleys. One jumped out at me here–Bena, which I thought was a female name (at least I thought I knew of a female someone in the Holmes County Amish going by that name). Interesting to see too that some of the least common here would be rather common in other places.

        1. Amish girl - Rebecca

          Yes, here in Holmes Bena or Biena is afemale name tho not very common.

    27. Doug Douglass

      I haven’t seen the name Lemuel mentioned.

    28. Robert M. Snyder

      "Wollie"

      I have a friend who was born and raised in Germany. His name is Wolfgang, but his friends call him Wolle. Maybe Wollie is a variation on Wolle, and a nickname for Wolfgang.

    29. Susan

      More names

      I’ve spent a lot of time personally with Amish in MN and WI (I used to do work with them). I imagine first names are different in different regions, as are surnames. I’ve often heard the male names Benjamin and Matthew, Aaron, Isaiah. These are common.

    30. Can you find the "H"umor

      Instead of swearing, saying “Get the ‘H’ outta here?”, or “What the ‘h”?” are common ways around one swear word.

      When I was reading the “Rare” ~ Uncommon Amish mens names, I saw Phenis, and said to my 17 year old son, “Get the “h” outta here!!”, pointing to the name…

      We IMMEDIATELY BURST OUT IN LAUGHTER, when looking at the name in a modified way…

      Cool article though. I have had the pleasure of getting to know many Amish families over my travels in the Mid West where I live, and TOTALLY Appreciate the Vast Majority of their way of life.

    31. rochelle worden

      names

      my friend’s son’s name is May-lin
      not sure how it is spelled
      they have Lovina too which i like

    32. t

      rare amish names

      My sons name is Ananias. There is 10 with the same name in the Amish community in our area. I also have heard the name Joas…

    33. michelle ruggiero

      Names

      A rather nice sounding but uncommon name is Joas. Another is Mose although i prefer Joas to the latter. I’m thinking this name will become more popular to the English people soon. Biblical, short and a nice male name.

    34. DOUG

      Two More Names

      Lemuel and Eusibius

    35. Mike Lucas

      Surprised

      I was surprised that Simon wasn’t more common.

      1. Funny enough it’s not. I can remember maybe a handful across several thousand Amish homes visited over the years. Maybe it’s a common name in certain settlements, but I have yet to visit that settlement 🙂

    36. Lydia Good

      Unusual Amish names

      My father’s name was Frederick. I’m not aware of any other Amishman in Lancaster County who ever had that name. I had a cousin Joseph. Everyone called him Joe.

      I have 3 great grandsons with the names of Joel, Micah and Malachi.
      And 2 great nephews named Samuel and Elijah. None are Amish or Mennonite.

      Many of the younger generation of Amish are giving their children non biblical names. Sometimes the first name may be biblical but not the middle name like for instance: John Wayne or Daniel Lee.

    37. Meredith Sommers

      Heard of...

      My sister’s father-in-law is Iddo.
      I have a brother Atlee and knew an Amish Atlee. My mother was a midwife to lots of Amish and I do believe she got the name from them.
      A friend named her last baby Leander (middle name)- said it’s her husband’s grandfather. I had never heard that before.
      I thought for sure Eli and Levi would be in the list- lots of them where I was from. I guess it depends on the area.

    38. Helen Curtis

      Amish names

      My great grandmother was called Ora, short for Creola

      1. Interesting, I would guess Ola would be short form. I have an Amish friend (male) named Ola. But in Polish, Ola is short for Aleksandra. Ora is a pretty common name for Amish men.

    39. Vanessa

      Hannes is…

      … a common German name. I can tell because I am German 😉 It used to be a nick name for Johannes, but people name their children Hannes too. Back in the time my grandma was young they would give their child a proper name like „Johannes“ or „Friedrich“ and call him „Hannes“/ „Hans“ or „Fritz“. But nowadays you give your children the short versions as „real“ names if you prefer it. My grandmas name is Emma btw. (Was listed popular as female Amish name) which means bucked in a German dialect… she dies not like it because of that. But it was very common back then and still is!
      Arden is a male name too but I do not hear it very often. It does not sound strange to the German ear, it sounds Nordic, but it is not very popular. I never heard of a woman/ girl named Arden. In German we do not have unisex names. The name always shows which gender you are unless you got a name from another country. But we Germans are no fans of it, we like to be clear about the gender. Sometimes I think that’s why the Amish are how they are because they are from Germany. It is so typical for Germans to have and obey many rules and to be as precise as possible. Yeah, so I bet there are no unisex names among the Amish.