Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Nathan

The name Nathan comes from the Hebrew language meaning “he has given”, whereas the Hebrew Nethan'el (Nathaniel) means more specifically “God has given” (thanks to the “El” component). Similarly, the Hebrew name Yehonathan (Jonathan) means “Yahweh has given”. All three masculine names are related to the Hebrew noun “mattan” which means “gift” (see Matthew). Nathan is borne in the Bible as a prophet during the time of King David. In Samuel 12:1-15, “the Lord sent Nathan to David” to admonish David for his adulterous affair with Bathsheba and for arranging to have Uriah the Hittie (Bathsheba’s husband) killed in battle in an effort to cover up said affair. Believed to have lived c. 1000 B.C., Nathan the Prophet (as he’s commonly known) also appears in Kings and Chronicles. He essentially helped usher in the reign of David (by announcing God’s covenant with David), and saw the end to David’s reign when he talked the king into proclaiming Solomon heir to the throne (Solomon being one of David’s many, many, too-many-to-count-many sons). In fact, Solomon’s older brother and one of King David’s four sons with Bathsheba was named Nathan (most likely after David’s prophet-pal). The Gospel of Luke 3:31 traces Jesus’ lineage to David through Nathan (Matthew 1:7 has it going through Solomon). Either way, Nathan is believed to be a direct ancestor to the Messiah in Christian tradition. That means he has some pretty good genes. Believe it or not, Nathan is currently the #1 name in France. It’s also ranked #3 in Belgium (French speakers apparently love to “give” the name Nathan to their les bébés garçons). Nathan also gets high marks in Canada, the United States, Ireland and Scotland. It’s also one of the more popular baby boy names in Northern Ireland, England and Australia.

All About the Baby Name – Nathan

Personality

OF THE BOY NAME NATHAN

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 NATHAN

The name Nathan has experienced above-average success in terms of popular boys’ names in America for over a century; but most specifically since the 1970’s. At the turn of the 21st century, the name experienced the height of that popularity averaging in the Top 25 position. While technically a Biblical name, its roots are a bit more obscure. The popularity has more to do with its gentle strength and two-syllable simplicity (i.e., a less fancy version of Nathaniel). The shortened form (Nate) allows for a one-syllable punch and an even stronger masculine sound. Nathan “has given” American parents a handsome name choice!

Quick Facts

ON NATHAN

GENDER:

Boy

ORIGIN:

NUMBER OF SYLLABLES:

2

RANKING POPULARITY:

31

PRONUNCIATION:

NAY-thәn

SIMPLE MEANING:

He has given

Characteristics

OF NATHAN

The Master Builder

Leader

Large Undertakings

Confidence

Discipline

Organization

Cultural References to the Baby Name – Nathan

Literary Characters

OF THE BABY NAME NATHAN

Nathan Price is a central character in Barbara Kingsolver bestselling novel "The Poisonwood Bible" (1998). As a WWII veteran and the only member of his army regimen to escape death, he is riddled with guilt. He takes his wife and four daughters to Africa on a mission to save the continent for Jesus. An overzealous Baptist minister propelled to save as many souls as possible; he puts his own family in harm’s way.

Popular Songs

ON NATHAN

Segue - Nathan Adler
a song by David Bowie

Nathan La Franeer
a song by Joni Mitchell

Nathan Jones
a song by Diana Ross & The Supremes

Famous People

NAMED NATHAN

Nathan Lane (actor)
Nathan Hale (American hero)

Children of Famous People

NAMED NATHAN

Jon Stewart;

Historic Figures

WITH THE NAME NATHAN

Nathan Hale was an American soldier during the Revolutionary War against Britian. At the young age of 21, he bravely volunteered for an intelligence-gathering mission in New York City but was captured by the British and hanged. He is best known for his famous last words: " “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” A true American hero.