Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Ben

Ben is most commonly considered a short form of Benjamin. Benjamin is a Hebrew name borne from the Bible; he was the youngest son of Jacob’s 12 boys. His mother, Rachel, died giving birth to him in Genesis 35:18. “And as her soul was departing (for she was dying), she called his name Ben-oni; but his father called him Benjamin.” The name “benoni” translates to “son of my sorrow” – but Jacob did not want his last son to bear such an ill-omened name stemming from his mother’s death, so he called him “Benyamin” instead. The likely Hebrew translation of Benjamin is “son of the south” since the child was Jacob’s only son born in Canaan, south of Mesopotamia. However, “yamim” is also thought to be a translation of the word “years” in Hebrew, bringing another variant to the name’s root etymology as “son of my old age” referring to the fact that Benjamin was Jacob’s last child born to him when he was an old man. Interestingly, in the Middle Ages (5th-15th centuries), the name was often given to boys whose mothers had died in childbirth. Today, it no longer bears such ill-fated associations, and is used widely used among all English-speakers, Jews and Christians alike. Aside from Ben’s obvious association with Benjamin from the Bible, Ben could also be considered a short form of any masculine name starting with the “Ben” prefix such as Benedict, Bennett, Benson or Bentley (Ben is even used as a short form for Reuben). As a stand-alone independently given name Ben has seen success in his own right. This short little one syllable three-lettered name is quite popular in Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland. It is also a Top 100 name in England and Austria.

All About the Baby Name – Ben

Personality

OF THE BOY NAME BEN

The Three energy is powerful and enthusiastic. These personalities are cheerful, full of self-expression, and often quite emotional. They have an artistic flair and "gift-of-gab" that makes them natural entertainers. Their joyfulness bubbles over, and their infectious exuberance draws a crowd. The Three personality is like a child - forever young and full of delight. They are charming, witty, and generally happy people. The Three personality lives in the "now" and has a spontaneous nature. Threes seem to live with a bright and seemingly unbreakable aura that attracts others to them. In turn, they are deeply loyal and loving to their friends and family. Luck also has a tendency to favor number Threes.

Popularity

OF THE BOY NAME BEN

As an independently given name Ben dates way back over 150 years. At the turn of the 20th century, in the year 1900, Ben was the 73rd most popular boy’s name in the country (and Benjamin was the 56th). Since the turn of the 20th century, however, and into the 21st, Ben has been on a slow and steady decline. Benjamin, on the other hand, has held fast to a Top 100 position. In other words, American parents prefer the traditional name Benjamin rather than simply “Ben” as a legally given first name. Indeed, most of the Bens we’re familiar with today in popular culture (e.g., Ben Affleck, Ben Harper, Ben Stiller) were all born Benjamin. Our Federal Reserve Chairman, however, was born just Ben Bernanke. Names like Alex vs. Alexander, Sam vs. Samuel and Max vs. Maximilian are much more colloquial and informal. They are snappy one-syllable nicknames that work well as stand-alone first names. But traditional parents will opt for their longer versions. Some people find names like Mike, Ben, Sam and Max a little too common and ordinary but most people would agree they are solid name choices. The only thing we strongly suggest is don’t pick the name Ben for your son if your last name happens to be Dover (a little Bart Simpson joke for you).

Quick Facts

ON BEN

GENDER:

Boy

ORIGIN:

English

NUMBER OF SYLLABLES:

1

RANKING POPULARITY:

749

PRONUNCIATION:

BEHN

SIMPLE MEANING:

Son of the south; son of my old age

Characteristics

OF BEN

Communicative

Creative

Optimistic

Popular

Social

Dramatic

Happy

Cultural References to the Baby Name – Ben

Literary Characters

OF THE BABY NAME BEN

Ari Ben Canaan is the Zionist hero of Leon Uris’ 1958 novel, Exodus, which was made into an award-winning 1960 film of the same name, starring Paul Newman. Ari is dedicated to the cause of a homeland for the Jews, the establishment of the State of Israel, and he commandeers a ship to take more than 600 Jewish Holocaust survivors from refugee camps in Cyprus to Palestine. The character of Ari is said to be based on the true-life story of Yossi Harel, who was responsible for the immigration of thousands of Jews. Ari is described as a handsome and courageous young man who is absolutely devoted to the Jewish freedom movement, having already lost many family and loved ones to the ravages of war. He uses intelligence and cunning in his clandestine dealings - the story of Jewish liberation, however rocky, is due in large part to his courage. He also gets the girl, but then again, he’s Paul Newman, after all.

Popular Songs

ON BEN

Ben
a song by Boyzone

Ellen and Ben
a song by The Dismemberment Plan

Bill and Ben
a song by Catherine Wheel

Dear Ben
a song by Jennifer Lopez

Ben Wah Balls
a song by Blink 182

Ben Moves To California
a song by The Broadways

Stumbled into Ben
is a song by Kevin Seconds

Famous People

NAMED BEN

Ben Affleck (actor/director)
Ben Bernanke (Federal Reserve Chairman)
Ben Crenshaw (golfer)
Ben Franklin (important American)
Ben Gibbard (musician)
Ben Harper (musician)
Ben Hogan (golfer)
Ben Kingsley (actor)
Ben Rothlisberger (football player)
Ben Stiller (actor)
Ben Vereen (actor)

Children of Famous People

NAMED BEN

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

Historic Figures

WITH THE NAME BEN

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