Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Abner

Abner is a Biblical name from the Hebrew “Avner” (אבנר) meaning “father of light”. He is first mention in 1 Samuel 14:50: “And the name of the commander of [King Saul’s] army was Abner the son of Ner, Saul’s uncle.” (this of course makes Abner Saul’s first cousin). After Saul’s death at the hands of the Philistines, his kingdom became divided – Judah supported David as their successor king, but Abner went ahead and anointed Ish-bosheth (Saul’s only surviving son) as King of Israel. This resulted in a long war between the House of David and the House of Saul, but it was David and his men who ultimately prevailed over the weaker Ish-bosheth and his people. In fact, Abner’s defection to David’s side was pretty much the final straw. In 2 Samuel 3:6-11 Ish-bosheth dug his own grave when he had the bad judgment to accuse Abner of shacking up with Saul’s former mistress (concubine as the Bible calls it); such an accusation implied that Ish-bosheth may have believed Abner had designs on the throne himself. Thoroughly indignant by the insinuation, Abner proclaimed the transference of the kingdom from the House of Saul to the throne of David – hence, all of Israel became united under David – and David basically had Abner to thank for tipping the scales. And he did. David made a feast in Abner’s honor before sending him north in peace. All seemed to work out well for old Abner, the ultimate peacemaker. That was until David’s nephew Joab got wind of the latest developments. Believing Abner to be deceiving David, Joab took it upon himself to murder him; and he did so without consulting David. As a result, Abner died a hero and Joab’s family is forever cursed by David for his murderous actions. The “father of light” etymology seems fitting considering that Abner was instrumental in ending the on-going war among brethren and helping to unify a then-divided Israel under one King. It was the Puritans who adopted Abner as a given name for their own children at the end of the Reformation in the 17th century. The Puritans had a special knack for resurrecting Old Testament names as an act of humility in keeping with their strict religious ideals. It was they who brought the name Abner to America.

All About the Baby Name – Abner



The Master Number Twenty-Two combines the traits of Twos and Fours into a powerful force. The references to The Master Builder and "large undertakings" serve to underscore the massive potential of this personality. They are extremely capable and therefore almost always successful. Twenty-Twos are courageous leaders, innovative thinkers, extremely wise and highly organized. As such, they are able to manifest something of major importance that will have a lasting impact on this world. Master Numbers carry with them a great sense of responsibility, so it can be a burden. However, Twenty-Twos are executors and action-takers. Further, this personality exhibits traits of the Twos, which brings sensitivity, spirituality and harmony, so their endeavors are likely to benefit mankind in some capacity.



Abner is one of those baby boy names that is rarely if ever used. Our data only goes back to 1880, but we can say with confidence that Abner was in greater circulation long before that. At the turn of the 20th century, more than 100 years ago, Abner was still bestowed on baby boys with respectable moderation. It really wasn’t until the 1920s when Abner started his free fall down the charts. The last time this name was used with any sort of frequency – at least enough to make the Top 1000 list – was in 1938. In other words, Abner was put out to pasture (where he has remained for 75 years). Coincidence or not, Abner’s departure from the naming charts is closely timed with the 1934 debut of the “Li’l Abner” comic strip (created by Al Capp). While endearing with his own brand of charm, Li’l Abner was the very essence of the stereotypical West Virginian hillbilly. Readers were probably laughing AT him rather than WITH him most of the time, not to mention that Li’l Abner heavily shaped America’s view of the South (the Appalachian south mainly). The satirical comic strip ran between 1934 and 1977 (43 years) during which time the name Abner was largely synonymous with “country bumpkin”. However, the Li’l Abner association is probably lost of the newer generation so Abner could be due for a comeback. It’s a name with Biblical importance and charming old-man style. Not only that, Abner Doubleday is the man most often credited with the invention of baseball. Like it or not, Abner is a darn cute name.

Quick Facts













Father of light



The Master Builder


Large Undertakings




Cultural References to the Baby Name – Abner

Literary Characters


Li’l Abner is the gangly, good-natured hillbilly son of Mammy and Pappy Yokum of Dogpatch, in Al Capp’s extremely popular satiric comic strip which ran an astounding 43 years, from 1934 to 1977. During most of those years, the optimistic Li’l Abner managed to stay nineteen years old – no wonder he was good-natured! In a world of cynicism and nay-sayers, Abner is a goofy innocent who always sees the good in life. He is so innocent, in fact, that he even misses the well-aimed ploys of Daisy Mae Scragg, who has set her cap for him. She is determined to “git her man”, because (1) he’s a hunk and (2) even Yokum is a better name than Scragg. Win him she does, eventually, and they become proud parents of Li’l Honest Abe. Li’l Abner would probably run afoul of the Political Correctness Police these days, but he still provides a refreshing dose of down-home likeability.

It’s hard to believe, but the "Sadie Hawkins Dance" was borne from a comic strip created by Al Capp in the late 1930s. Sadie was one of his characters in the popular, long-lasting cartoon strip. She was a resident of Dogpatch and referred to as "the homeliest gal in the hills" who grew tired of waiting for suitors. The first annual Sadie Hawkins Day was not a dance, but a foot race, wherein the spinster ladies of the town would give chase to the unmarried men. If caught, matrimony would be the consequence. Within a year of the strip appearing (November of 1937), Sadie Hawkins became an event that took on a life of its own as it swept through high schools and college campuses across the nation. The Sadie Hawkins Dance requires a reversal of roles so that the ladies ask the young men of their choosing to accompany them on the date. In other words, the women become the aggressors.

Childrens Books


We cannot find any childrens books with the first name Abner

Popular Songs


We cannot find any popular or well-known songs with the name of Abner

Famous People


Abner Doubleday (notable American Civil War Union general)
Abner J. Mikva (politician)
Abner Silver (songwriter)
Abner Louima (victim of police violence)
Abner Mares (Mexican boxer)
Abner Biberman (filmmaker)
Abner Zwillman (gangster known as the Al Capone of New Jersey)
Abner Haynes (football player)
Abner Kuhoʻoheiheipahu Pākī (early 19th century High Chief of Hawaii)

Children of Famous People


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

Historic Figures


We cannot find any historically significant people with the first name Abner