From Elijah to Hannah: Exploring the Top Amish Names
Not all are familiar with the so-called Amish people. The Amish people are a sect of super-conservative Swiss Anabaptists that relies on their values and customs heavily from the bible. They are said to be a distant cousin to the Mennonite churches which is also an Anabaptist sect. Despite being cult-like, they are still a Christian sect, but with radicalized and orthodox points of view in Christianity.
In this article, you will get to know some of the popular Amish names. If you are looking for Amish name ideas for your baby, you are in the right place as we compiled a list of the best Amish names for boys and girls together with their small etymology and meaning.
Who Are The Amish People? – A Brief History
The term Amish came from the German word Amisch, drawn from the surname of Jakob Ammann. He and his followers (mostly Swiss and Mennonite) founded a new Anabaptist sect in Switzerland in the year 1693. The sect is called the Amish Church, with its members called Amish People. Their objective is to create a renewed Anabaptist church stemming away from the existing traditional and corrupt sect.
The Amish belief and way of life centers on nothing but simplicity. They follow word by word the teachings of the bible. Because of this, they are considered the most conservative group of people among all Anabaptists. They base most of their lives and decision-making on the biblical context and they would openly denounce doing things that are not written in the bible. Because of their unique way of life and avid devotion to following the teachings of Jakob Ammann, they are usually persecuted and discriminated against by other religious sects during this time. In the early decade of the 18th century, hundreds of Amish started to migrate to North America in hopes of escaping religious persecution and continuing their way of life.
Today, modern Amish people are isolated and scattered in different parts of the United States. Most of them live in the rural areas of Pennsylvania such as Berks Country and Lancaster Country. Amish communities are iconic for their unique lifestyle bounded by guidelines called Ordnung, or simply “rules”. These rules differ depending on the community but, in essence, are the same and applicable to all Amish people. Amish people are also known for their choice of transportation and clothing. For instance, most of them would prefer a horse and buggy rather than taxis or buses. They wear plain clothes, simple hats, and traditional suits.
What Makes Amish Names Unique or Different?
Amish names are very easy to decipher and understand. They derived their names from only one source—the Christian bible. Since Amish people are very orthodox and traditional, even names were derived or copied directly from the bible. Old Amish people in the past tend to reject any form of modernized names that are not in the bible.
Famous Amish Names
Since names mentioned in the bible are limited, especially women’s names, it is common in Amish culture to reuse names multiple times even when coming from the same family (cousins or siblings). To distinguish people sharing the same name, they add nicknames or include middle names in their introductions. They also add small descriptors to a person’s name such as including their job or common facial features. For example, to distinguish two people named John, they may call one “John the son of the painter” or the other “John who makes shoes and laces”. The same naming convention applies to female Amish names.
In the Hebrew language, Sarah is a direct representation of the term “princess”. It is a very common female Amish name possibly due to it being one of the earliest female names mentioned in the Bible aside from Eve. It became a common name choice for Amish girls especially for first born.
In the bible, Sarah was originally named Sarai until God changed her and Abraham’s names and made them the first receiver of the first covenant.
Jacob is a common name choice for Amish parents to a firstborn son. It is a common belief among Amish families that firstborn sons are great forefathers of future generations. The name Jacob came from the Hebrew term aqob which means “to follow”. It may also mean “to supplant” or “to assail”.
In the bible, Jacob is best known as the father of Israel. In his lineage came twelve of his sons who became the original twelve tribes of the first Israelite civilization.
The name David is now considered a classic boy name nowadays. It ranked 3rd of the most commonly used given name in the United States, with a total estimate of around 4 million using it. It is also a common pick for male Amish names.
David is best known for defeating Goliath the Giant in the Valley of Elah. He hurled a stone at Goliath’s forehead, stunning him, which gave David a chance to sever his head. David became the champion of the Israelites and replaced Saul as king. He ruled Israel for forty strong years.
The name Mary is very common not only with the Amish people but also in other Christian-influenced countries around the globe. It was derived from the Hebrew name Miriam and was mentioned multiple times in the bible such as Mary Moses’ sister, Mary Magdalene, Mary mother of Christ, Mary of Bethany, Mary mother of James, and Mary of Rome.
In the bible, Mary is considered one of the iconic characters for being the virgin mother of Jesus Christ. He ascended into heaven with both her flesh and soul. She is considered the only human who was accepted to heaven in the flesh.
Common Amish Names
There are many famous characters in the bible that Amish parents use to name their babies. These names are also common among other Christian countries and Western-influenced countries. Below are examples of common Amish names with their meaning.
Common Girl Amish Names
- Eve – the first biblical woman. Derived from the Hebrew Hawwah /eh-vah/ which means “living being”.
- Abigail – translates as “my father’s joy” from the old Hebrew language. It is one of the most beautiful names to exist because of its pronunciation and deep meaning. In the bible, Abigail is the wife of the great King David and was known for her undying loyalty to her husband, and her superior beauty and intellect.
- Miriam – Miriam is the direct Hebrew translation for the name Mary. It means “salt of the sea” in the Hebrew language. It is a common substitute name for Mary and is associated with intellect and knowledge.
- Elizabeth – The name Elizabeth came from the Hebrew name Elisheva, meaning “God’s promise”. Elizabeth is famous and well known as the mother of John the Baptist.
- Rebecca – Rebecca is derived from the name Rivka which means “to captivate”. In the bible, Rebecca is best known as the wife of Isaac, the first son of Abraham, the father of Jacob.
Common Amish Names for Boys
- Noah – Noah is also one of the early men mentioned in the bible. He is famous for creating the massive Ark to save most creatures from the great flood. In Hebrew, it is spelled as Noach and translates as “rest” or “to repose”. This name is a common choice for Amish boys that depicts strong personality and respect.
- Abraham – The name Abraham was a common pick for parents in the early 1910s. This includes Amish and non-Amish people from the United States. This name is well-associated with leadership because there are famous people with this name that become great leaders in history.
- John – The name John ranked 26th as the most commonly used name in the United States for men. This name is also a common choice among Amish people. Most Amish communities will almost always have a John. In the bible, John was mentioned multiple times by at least five different people in the New Testament. They are John the Baptist, John the Apostle, John the father of Peter, John Mark, and John the son of Annas.
- Samuel – Samuel is derived from the Hebrew term Shemu’el which means “name of God” or “God has heard”. It is one of the traditional names common among Amish families. Samuel is a Hebrew prophet, famous for writing the Book of Samuel, often referred to as the First Book of Kings. Although there are sources that debunk this assumption, of prophet Jeremiah as the real author of the First Book of Kings.
- Matthew – translates as “Gift of God” or “Gift of Yahweh”. This name is a perfect choice for Amish baby boys, especially last-born babies. Usually, last-born babies are unplanned or unexpected considering the age of the parents. This makes the name Matthew even more special for Amish families, as the child is considered a special gift to the family.
Rare Amish Girl Names
- Salome – Derived from the Hebrew word Shalom, which means “peace”.
- Martha – Derived from the Aramaic word Marta, meaning “mistress” or “lady”. This name has influences from Latin and Ancient Greek.
- Adina – the Hebrew term for the word “delicate”.
- Deborah – the Hebrew term for the word “bee”. This name was mentioned in the Bible about Prophet Deborah who led the Israelites to freedom against the Canaanites
- Esther – this name has different arguments on its roots, but it Is more associated with the old Persian word stara, or “star”.
- Bethel – translate as “House of God”.
- Hannah – this name has its Hebrew origin derived from the variation of the word Channah, which means “favor” or “grace”.
- Ophel – translates as “darkness” or “small white clouds”.
- Oreb – this name can also be used as an Amish boy name and translates as “raven” in English.
- Abi – a shortened term for Abijah which means “my father is Yah”.
Rare Amish Boy Names
- Abel – is considered to be one of the first biblical names mentioned. It means “vapor” or “breath”.
- Hadar – this name has multiple meanings in the Hebrew context. It may mean “glory” or “splendor”, or a name of a citrus fruit.
- Haggar – translates as “forsaken” in the English language.
- Felix – softly translates as happy” or “prosperous”.
- Naaman – the Hebrew term for “being pleasant”. It is derived from the Hebrew verb name which translates as “to be pleasant” or “pleasantries”.
- Ishbah – is one of the rarely used Biblical names that can be seen in Amish society. This means “praising” or someone who praises.
- Abba – has an Aramaic and Arabic origin which means “father”. The same word was used and mentioned in the bible.
- Caesar – mentioned in the bible to identify the Romans’ emperor or Caesar.
- Canaan – this name is correctly spelled as Kena’an in the Hebrew language. It means “to be brought down by a heavy load”.
- Damien – spelled as Damian in Greek. It is derived from the Greek title Damianos which means “to tame” or “to subdue”.
Short History of Amish Last Names
A funny article written in 2013 by Elmer L. Smith about Amish Last Names greatly summarizes what Amish last names look like. In his article, he mentioned that a postman was so frustrated in delivering mail to 437 different people bearing the same surname Stolzfus.
There are only about 30 family names in that community in Pennsylvania, and each Amish family will have the same last name as their neighbor. The reason behind this is because of their closed community. Amish families will not approve of marriage outside their religion. That is why, surnames and names in the community circulate among the members of the Amish church alone.
Additionally, since most of the existing Amish people descended from Swiss and German families, most of their last names have Germanic or Swiss origin.
Most Common Amish Last Names
Below is the compiled list of commonly used Amish last names today. Take note that the list is not in order.
- Schwartz (German) – a person with black hair.
- Gingerrich (German) – a powerful man.
- Lambright – describes a shining land or holy land.
- Lehman (German) – meaning “to hold a land” or “feudal tenant”.
- Schrock (German) – someone similar to a bird.
- Albrecht (German) – meaning “bright” or “famous”.
Funny Amish Names
Amish names are not exempted from funny names. We can be more creative and add humor in creating Amish names. Keep in mind however that some names might become offensive because most Amish names are from the bible. We will avoid altering names from the bible.
What makes Amish names funny is their added calling to existing names. Recall that most Amish names are the same, so they add adjectives or descriptors in the name to specifically identify them. For example, a man named Jacob can be “Jacob from Downtown” or “Jacob with a donkey”. Check out some of our compiled funny names for you to enjoy.
- John son of John
- Double Jacob
- Mary the Red-eyed
- John son of John, father of John.
- Nathan, not Satan
- Jona Whale Survivor
- Jacob Two-Timer
- Adam with no Eve
- Isaac Kingston
- Noah with a Boat