Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Abel

Abel is clearly a name of Biblical origins. He was borne the second son of Adam and Eve and is most famous for his role in the first sibling rivalry of humankind. His brother Cain, the oldest, is a farmer (“worker of the ground”) while the second born, Abel, is a shepherd (“keeper of the sheep”). Each brings an offering to God – Cain the fruit from his ground and Abel the first born of his flock. We’re not told why exactly, but the Lord favors Abel’s offering, “…but for Cain and his offering [God] had no regard.” Of course, this infuriates Cain [Genesis 4:3-5]. The Lord sees Cain’s anger and warns him that “sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” Unfortunately, Cain fails the next test too. Sin-shmin is his attitude because he lures Abel out to the field and kills him in a jealous fury. When God asks Cain “Where is your brother Abel?” Cain famously replies: “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” [Genesis 4:9]. The generally accepted etymological roots of the name Abel come from the Hebrew word Hevel which means ‘breath, vapor’ where the implication is vanity or worthlessness (perhaps because Abel was killed over his brother’s vanity?). Another theory postulates that Abel is from an Old Assyrian dialect “ablu” meaning ‘son’. In other words, God’s favored son. As a given name, Abel was popularized by the Puritans.

All About the Baby Name – Abel

Personality

OF THE BOY NAME ABEL

The number 11 is a Master Number, and embodies heightened traits of the Two. This personality is on a life journey to find spiritual truth. They are extremely idealistic and intuitive. Elevens have a rare and exceptional spiritual energy that brings a sense of obligation to illuminate the world around them. It's a very powerful responsibility, but these people have far more potential than they know. It's important that they surrender to higher ideals. They have the capacity to see the bigger picture, and they possess the skills to inspire others spiritually. Elevens have strong diplomatic skills and can become great peacemakers. Master numbers can be both a blessing and a curse, as they walk the fine line between greatness and the potential for self-destruction.

Popularity

OF THE BOY NAME ABEL

Thanks to the Puritan settlers, the name Abel has probably been in use in America since the time of colonization. What we do know is that Abel has been on the U.S. popularity charts since the government first began tracking naming trends in 1880. It’s never been a Top 100 favorite among boys, or even close to it, but it’s a name that has been quietly used for centuries. Even with its heavy Biblical allusions, Abel still manages to stay cute and friendly as a name. It also carries with it a strong sense of competence and aptitude (“able”). Unlike Noah, Adam or Jacob – Abel is an offbeat Biblical choice without an ounce of trendiness. He was the good son and that’s how he’ll always be remembered first and foremost. You can pair this name with James and call him A.J. for short, or you can use the pet form Abe. This is a name more flexible than most people think.

Quick Facts

ON ABEL

GENDER:

Boy

ORIGIN:

Hebrew

NUMBER OF SYLLABLES:

2

RANKING POPULARITY:

179

PRONUNCIATION:

A-bəl

SIMPLE MEANING:

Breath, vapor, son

Characteristics

OF ABEL

Inspirational

Highly Intuitive

Spiritual Teacher

Extremely Bright

Uplifting

Truth-seeker

Cultural References to the Baby Name – Abel

Literary Characters

OF THE BABY NAME ABEL

Abel Magwich is a central character in Charles Dickens” famous 1861 novel, Great Expectations, who actually provides the hero, “Pip”, with those same “great expectations”. Abel is an escaped convicted criminal when he first meets up with Pip, and terrorizes the boy into stealing food for him. After being recaptured and deported to Australia, Abel remembers Pip with kindness. Having made a fortune in sheep farming, he sends money to Pip under anonymity, allowing Pip to rise in the social classes. Although this windfall initially leads Pip onto a shallow path of social climbing and material procurement, he is brought up short by the realization that his riches have come to him from a convict. When they finally meet again, it is Abel’s gratitude and affection that largely cause Pip’s reassessment of his life and his resolve to become a better man. When poor Abel is brought to trial yet again, it is Pip who stays with him to the end, easing his benefactor into a happy death.

Popular Songs

ON ABEL

Guess God Thinks I'm Abel
a song by Oasis

Famous People

NAMED ABEL

Abel Tasman (Dutch explorer who discovered New Zealand)
Abel (soccer player)
Abel Ferrara (film director)
Abel Gance (film director)
Abel Pacheco (former President of Costa Rica)
Abel Xavier (soccer player)

Children of Famous People

NAMED ABEL

We cannot find any children of famous people with the first name Abel

Historic Figures

WITH THE NAME ABEL

Abel Tasman was a Dutch mariner, merchant and explorer most known for his discovery of Tasmania, New Zealand and the Fiji Islands during his voyage of 1642-43. He was the first known European expedition to reach these islands and come into contact with the native Maori people. Tasmania was obviously named after him (it had formerly been known as Van Diemen’s Land). Enduring rough waters and unknown seas, Tasman was an “Abel” seafarer. It would be another century and James Cook’s voyages before Tasmania and New Zealand would be visited again by Europeans. Certainly the Maori people must have been scratching their heads…