Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name David

David is one of the most successful Biblical names of all time. Borne from the Old Testament as Israel’s second king, David is a key player in the Judeo-Christian narrative (see Historical references below). His name comes from the Hebrew “Dawidh” meaning “darling, beloved” which is apropos since David the greatest of all the kings of Israel, warts and all. His story is told with great clarity in the first two books of Samuel when Samuel anoints David as the second king of Israel, and which includes the colorful story of “David and Goliath” whereby the young David kills the great Goliath with a slingshot (symbolizing Israel’s struggles with pagans). In Christian tradition, the messiah Jesus Christ is believed to be descended directly from King David (which is why Jesus is often referred to as the “son of David”). In other words, David was one important Biblical dude. It might be said that David was God’s special “darling”; known as the man after His own heart. In Samuel 13:14, the prophet Samuel says to King Saul “The Lord hath sought a man according to his own heart.” And that man was David. The beautiful thing about David, though, is that he’s terribly imperfect (therefore human). Everyone can relate to David as he personifies the forgiveness of God’s love. He is the perpetrator of many serious sins (adultery with Bathsheba, murder of Bathsheba’s husband, divine disobedience, etc). Yet he suffers the consequences for his actions and remains God’s Golden Child. The name David was common in England and Scotland by the 12th century, but it predates that in Wales (dating back to the 6th century). The medieval English nickname form of David was Dawe, hence the surname Dawson. Today David remains as a favorite name all over the Western World after many, many centuries of success.

All About the Baby Name – David

Personality

OF THE BOY NAME DAVID

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.

Popularity

OF THE BOY NAME DAVID

David has always been an extremely popular boys name in the United States. In the past 130 years, the lowest ranking it's had is 33rd place which was around the turn of the 20th century. Otherwise, it has pretty much stayed in the top 10-20 positions decade after decade. David even claimed the #1 position in the country for a year (1960). Very few names can make that claim. Like Michael, Matthew and Daniel – names that have been popular for well over a century – David never sounds old-fashioned or overused. The name has also been popular in Scotland and Wales since the Middle Ages, and currently ranks high in Ireland. But it appears to be most heavily used in the United States and England (not to mention in Israel among Jewish baby boys). One of the most successful of all names in both the Hebrew and Christian traditions. The quintessential little darling "beloved" by all.

Quick Facts

ON DAVID

GENDER:

Boy

ORIGIN:

English

NUMBER OF SYLLABLES:

2

RANKING POPULARITY:

18

PRONUNCIATION:

DAY-vid

SIMPLE MEANING:

Darling, beloved

Characteristics

OF DAVID

The Master Builder

Leader

Large Undertakings

Confidence

Discipline

Organization

Cultural References to the Baby Name – David

Literary Characters

OF THE BABY NAME DAVID

Catriona Macgregor Drummond is the title character of Robert Louis Stevenson’s sequel to Kidnapped, a novel published in 1893 called Catriona, (sometimes known as David Balfour, especially in America). In the sequel, David Balfour follows in the political cause of justice for Alan Breck Stewart and James Stewart, who have been erroneously accused of the murder of Colin Roy, the “Red Fox”. He meets Catriona, a bonny Highlands lass, who is the daughter of the very unlikeable James More Drummond. Catriona is an intrepid young woman who engineers her father’s escape from prison by changing places with him. During the course of the quite complicated plot, Catriona and David fall in love, but their path to the fruition of that love is strewn with political intrigue, misunderstandings, familial betrayal, treason, and even another kidnapping. Catriona and David even live together, posing as brother and sister in an attempt to keep a roof over their heads. Through it all, Catriona proves herself to be an eighteenth century forerunner of her more modern sisters, rolling with the punches and landing a few herself. Her reward is marriage to her man and the issue of a couple of healthy children and a long and prosperous life. That seems a decent outcome in any century.

Little Em’ly is a character in Charles Dickens’ novel, David Copperfield, published in 1850. Emily is the niece of David’s housekeeper, and an early love interest for him. She is a sweet little girl, but she has a vanity that impels her to strive to the upper classes. This results in her jilting her good suitor, Ham, and running away with the snobbish James Steerforth – without benefit of marriage, mind you. After many years, her uncle tracks her down, abandoned and on the verge of even worse sin. The usual remedy – emigration to Australia, of course. Not a bad outcome, after all, especially insofar as both Ham and Steerforth meet their deaths by drowning.

Agnes Wickfield is a character in Charles Dickens’ 1850 masterpiece, Personal History, Adventures, Experience and Observation of David Copperfield the Younger of Blunderstone Rookery (Which He Never Meant to Publish on Any Account), familiarly known to most of us as David Copperfield . Agnes is the “angel” of the story, famously always pointing upward, presumably toward the heavens. A companion of David’s since childhood, she is the epitome of Victorian feminine goodness and purity, tenderly caring for her father and stoically loving David while he lusts after the adorable (if dim)Dora and others. Patience and virtue win the Victorian day. After David and Dora marry and she succumbs to a fatal miscarriage (nursed by Agnes, no less!), David comes to his senses and marries the patient, angelic, sensible and long-suffering Agnes. And she, no wilting violet, produces not one, not two, well, go and count them yourself – healthy children. We are led to believe, in spite of all this, that Agnes lived happily ever after.

Miss Rosa Dartle is a minor but significant character in Charles Dickens’ masterpiece, David Copperfield, first published in novel form in 1850. Rosa gets the short end of Dickens’ stick – she is portrayed as a bitter, withered spinster who harbors a secret love for David Copperfield’s schoolmate, James Steerforth, whose family had taken her in as a companion. She is also described by David as dark and skinny, and he puts particular emphasis on the disfiguring scar on her lip and chin – well, guess who put the scar there – the ill-tempered, spoiled Steerforth. Yet she loves him still – such are the ways of the heart – and continues to love him all the while he is carelessly seducing the innocent Emily, and all the while he pays Rosa no more attention than he would a piece of furniture in the house. For our part, we find her refreshingly sarcastic, quick of wit and tongue, even if her love object is beyond our understanding. It is no wonder that her sense of inferiority and jealousy lead her to violent fits of verbal abuse – better that than craven acquiescence to her lot. At any rate, James Steerforth meets his righteous end, and on poor Rosa’s behalf, we cheer.

Uriah Heep Is one of Charles Dickens’ most finely drawn villains, from David Copperfield, first published in novel form in 1850. His name has become a byword for the insincere, obsequious yes-man who constantly touts his own humbleness. Uriah stands in stark contrast to the young hero, David, as a model of toadiness, a poor thing whose very appearance announces his second-class character and nature to the world before he even has a chance to open his mouth. He is described as bony and cadaverous, ugly and ungraceful. But let us remember that Uriah has been working as a clerk to Mr. Wickfield since he was eleven years old! How many eleven- year-olds do you know who could weather what life dealt him and come out walking straight?! Well, poor thing, he hardly even does this – he is described as in constant motion, often with a certain jerkiness to his movements, making an awkward assault upon the world around him. Behind the scenes he conspires to attain a high position in Mr. Wickfield’s practice, even hoping to go so far as to win the lovely Agnes Wickfield’s hand in marriage. As foil to the humanely virtuous David Copperfield, no such luck for him! Nonetheless, how many characters from Victorian novels can you name who inspired the naming of a 20th century heavy metal band? And we believe that aces one who inspired a magician – so there!

David Balfour is the main character and narrator of Kidnapped, Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel, first published in magazine serial form in 1886 . Young David, orphaned at age 16 by his father’s death, travels from his home in the Scottish Lowlands to his Uncle Ebenezer in Edinburgh, in the hopes of being taken in. Uncle E, however, having quarreled with David’s father many years earlier over the boy’s deceased mother, has no such tender intentions. He arranges to have the boy kidnapped by the evil ship’s captain, Captain Hoseason and taken aboard the Covenant, with the intention of selling him into slavery in America. Surviving an accident at sea, David makes his way back to Scotland, sees his way through numerous adventures and escapades, and finally is able to claim the title and the fortune that his uncle tried so hard to keep from him. A first-rate adventure story, Kidnapped is also a fine work of literature and a portrait of a winsome young man.

David Copperfield is the title character in Charles Dickens’ novel, first published in 1850. It is the self-narration of his life, looking back as an adult. In true Dickensian fashion, poor young David endures a cruel stepfather, loses his mother and baby brother, goes to a brutal boarding school, works as a child laborer in a factory, runs away, is reunited with an aunt, finds love, becomes a successful author, marries, loses his wife, remarries, has several children, and still presumably has many more years to go! It is said that this is the closest to an autobiography that Dickens ever wrote, and the compassionate nature of David appears to be that with which Dickens himself approached the world. As one who had suffered himself, he considered the social evils of his day to be truly threatening, spiritually as well as physically. David is a good and kind boy and adult, but it is not through his character alone that he prospers, but through the kindnesses and guidance of others as well, and in spite of the hardships routinely experienced by the poor and helpless.

Clara Copperfield is the mother of the title character in Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield, first published in novel form in 1850. She is only twenty when David is born and she is already widowed. She is a beautiful woman and a loving mother to him, but she is also childlike and unable to stand up to her cruel second husband, Mr. Murdstone, who is abusive to David. She even allows herself to be bullied by him into agreeing to send young David away to school. She dies soon after delivering a second son, who dies with her. Perhaps her greatest punishment, however, is the fact that David will always bear a lingering resentment at her inability to protect him.

Clara Peggotty is the nursemaid and “second mother” to David Copperfield. Unlike her mistress, this Clara is very clear sighted about life and its trials, and especially about Mr. Murdstone. She unsuccessfully cautions Mrs. Copperfield against marrying him, and does her best to shield David whenever she can. She is steadfast and loyal and thoroughly sympathetic. She gets her rewards, as well. When her husband dies, she inherits a small fortune, although even this does not deter her from a continuing life of service to others.

Pudd’nhead Wilson is the title character of Mark Twain’s novel, Pudd’nhead Wilson, first published in book form in 1894. Young Wilson is an attorney from the North who moves to Dawson’s Landing and is mistakenly thought of by the locals as somewhat less than all there – a “pudd’nhead”, in fact. Unable, therefore, to sustain a law practice, Wilson gets along on odd jobs, and has the rather eccentric hobby of collecting fingerprints. Nonetheless, Wilson is friendly with the town’s leading citizen, Judge Driscoll, as well as with the Italian twins, Luigi and Angelo. Wilson plays his most dominant part toward the end of the novel, a complex maze of duels, imposters, babies “switched-at-birth”, slavery, murder and mayhem, when he represents the twins in their trial for the murder of the judge. His “hobby” comes in handy, as he is able to prove their innocence and the guilt of the true murderer. No pudd’nhead, he, after all!

Popular Songs

ON DAVID

David Bowie
a song by Phish

Remember David
a song by A Flock Of Seagulls

Little David
a song by James Taylor

Play Little David
a song by Joni Mitchell

David's Song
a song by Cher

David Bowie (Phish)
The band Phish wrote a song about David Bowie.

David's Song (Cher)
A ballad song by Cher.

Little David (James Taylor)
A great little tune by James Taylor.

Play Little David (Joni Mitchell)
A great little diddy by Joni Mitchell.

Remember David (A Flock Of Seagulls)
This 80's band wrote a song featuring the name David.

Just Like Henry David
a song by The Kennedys

Famous People

NAMED DAVID

David Arquette (actor)
David Carradine (actor)
Dave Chappelle (comedian)
David Duchovny (actor)
David Hasselhoff (actor)
David Letterman (comedian/ entertainer)
David Niven (actor)
David Schwimmer (actor)
David Spade (actor)
David Bowie (musician)
David Gray (musician)
David Lee Roth (musician)
Dave Matthews (musician)
David Byrne (musician)
Davy Jones (musician)
Dave Navarro (musician)
David Mamet (playwrite)
David Beckham (soccer player)
David Lynch (director)
David Arquette (actor)
David Carradine (actor)
Dave Chappelle (comedian)
David Duchovny (actor)
David Hasselhoff (actor)
David Letterman (comedian/ entertainer)
David Niven (actor)
David Schwimmer (actor)
David Spade (actor)
David Bowie (musician)
David Gray (musician)
David Lee Roth (musician)
Dave Matthews (musician)
David Byrne (musician)
Davy Jones (musician)
Dave Navarro (musician)
David Mamet (playwrite)
David Beckham (soccer player)
David Lynch (director)
David Arquette (actor)
David Carradine (actor)
Dave Chappelle (comedian)
David Duchovny (actor)
David Hasselhoff (actor)
David Letterman (comedian/ entertainer)
David Niven (actor)
David Schwimmer (actor)
David Spade (actor)
David Bowie (musician)
David Gray (musician)
David Lee Roth (musician)
Dave Matthews (musician)
David Byrne (musician)
Davy Jones (musician)
Dave Navarro (musician)
David Mamet (playwrite)
David Beckham (soccer player)
David Lynch (director)

Children of Famous People

NAMED DAVID

Madonna; Jennifer Lopez; Jennifer Hudson;

Historic Figures

WITH THE NAME DAVID

David is, according to the Bible, the second King of Israel, of the line of ancestry from which Jesus, the Messiah, was prophesized to have come. Almost as importantly, he is revered as both a warrior and a poet, credited with many of the Psalms (“The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want”). David also played the harp exquisitely enough to soothe King Saul’s misadventures with evil spirits. And he is known as the man who slew the Philistine giant, Goliath, with the clever use of a slingshot. For all this goodness, David is richly rewarded – he is named commander of the armies and is offered Saul’s daughter in marriage. But, having gained so much popularity with the people now makes him the object of Saul’s envy and distrust. He plots to kill David, but Saul’s own son, Jonathan, warns David and helps him to flee. When both Saul and Jonathan are killed in battle, David becomes king. He restores the Ark of the Covenant to the people and establishes Jerusalem as the center of Israel. All is not holy among David’s deeds, however. Lusting after Bathsheba, he impregnates her and has her husband, Uriah, killed in battle. God’s punishment is severe – the child of David and Bathsheba is made to sicken and die. David has much trouble with many of his sons – his son, Absalom, rebels against his father and causes a civil war; Absalom also dies. David truly repents his sins and asks forgiveness of God. And God does forgive him. David lives long and rules well and dies in the virtue of his years. The next child of David and Bathsheba is Solomon, who continues the line of divinely appointed kings of Israel and who will erect the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.