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
- 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.
- Amos – Another from the Old Testament, Amos was an eighth-century prophet with a Biblical book bearing his name.
- 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.”
- John – Johanan (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.
- 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.
- 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).
- Jacob – Another very common name among the Amish, perhaps reflecting Jacob’s Biblical importance. Father of the Twelve Tribes of Israel.
- 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.
- Eli – Old Testament priest and judge. You see a lot of Elis among Amish, but not many Elijahs.
- 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.
- 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.
- Wollie – I have no idea. An alternate spelling of Wally?
- Hannes – Short for Johannes? Feels very German.
- Jethro – Biblical name, the father of Moses’ wife Zipporah.
- Melbern – Maybe…this is a nickname for Mel, from Berne, Indiana?
- Leander – Latin form of the Greek Leandros. A 6th-century Catholic bishop of Seville.
- Phenis – A form of Phineas? A typo?
- 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.
- 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.”
- 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