Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Paul

The name Paul was once an old Roman family name which was derived from a nickname during the classical era. The Latin word “Paulus” means ‘small, humble.’ Paul is borne from the Bible, in the New Testament, as one of the most influential Christian missionaries who lived in the first century at the time of rising Christian beliefs. Originally called Saul, he was a Jewish Roman citizen raised in Jerusalem and over-zealous in his determination to imprison and even execute Christians. This all changed on Paul’s “Damascus Road experience” (a term still used in referring to the precise moment when a person develops a personal relationship with God/Jesus). In Paul’s case, he was going to Damascus to capture more of those pesky Christians when suddenly a bright light appears and blinds him. “Who are you, Lord?” Paul asks, to which a voice replies: “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” [Acts 9:4]. Uh oh. Sounds like Paul got caught in a pretty big faux-pas. Fortunately for Paul, his conversion is successful, his sight is restored and he goes onto become one of the most important early Christian leaders and a prolific spreader of Christianity throughout the Mediterranean. One of the more enduringly popular boy’s names, Paul has been in constant use among English-speakers since the 16th century.

All About the Baby Name – Paul

Personality

OF THE BOY NAME PAUL

The number Five personality loves the excitement of life and can easily adapt to all situations. As natural adventurers, these personalities thrive on the new and unexpected and prefer to be in constant motion. It makes them feel alive. They'll stir up some action if there's not enough around, and as inherent risk-takers they enjoy pushing the envelope. Naturally rebellious, the Five personality has no fear and never resists change.  Traveling and new experiences feed their souls. Fives are very social and attract friends with ease. People love to be around the Five fun-loving and exciting energy.  This is also a lucky number in numerology (like the Threes), so fortune seems to shine on them, helped along by their own optimism and good-nature. Fives have a quick wit, a cerebral mind, and are generally very persuasive. 

Popularity

OF THE BOY NAME PAUL

The name Paul has had heavy usage in the United States for well over 100 years. For the first 70 years of the 20th century, Paul was a Top 20 favorite name for little boys. That’s a massive, long-standing achievement few names can claim. However, Paul was unable to sustain this same level of usage into this 21st century. In 2001, Paul fell off the Top 100 list for the first time in 120 years (since the U.S. government began tracking naming trends in 1880). The name continues on its backwards trajectory down the list of most commonly used boys’ names today. Clearly, Paul has not held the test of time like other male Biblical names in the Judeo-Christian tradition (e.g., Michael, Daniel, David, Matthew, James and John). Rather, Paul is experiencing something similar to Mark and Peter, other long-standing Biblical names that appear to be waning in modern-day popularity as they make room for the old Puritan favorites: Jacob, Ethan and Noah. Paul is remains a simple, straight-forward and unpretentious (i.e., ‘humble’) choice for a boy. One of the few one-syllable names, it’s easy to say, easy to spell and everybody knows it. As an interesting aside, Paul is the given name of the ever-popular lead singer of U2, Bono.

Quick Facts

ON PAUL

GENDER:

Boy

ORIGIN:

English

NUMBER OF SYLLABLES:

1

RANKING POPULARITY:

198

PRONUNCIATION:

PAWL

SIMPLE MEANING:

Small, humble

Characteristics

OF PAUL

Freedom-loving

Adventurous

Adaptable

Intellectual

Easygoing

Progressive

Sensual

Cultural References to the Baby Name – Paul

Literary Characters

OF THE BABY NAME PAUL

Paul Atreides is a major character in Frank Herbert’s hugely successful sci-fi Dune series. He is a kind of superhuman messiah of the new universal religion who is so deified by his followers that they will go blindly anywhere he leads. He beats overwhelming odds with his extraordinary powers, and eventually ascends to emperor, oppressing all rebellion. Ultimately, he chooses the path of a transformational opting out of his manifest destiny, and lays the way for his son to take his place. Herbert has said that the work was a caveat against our tendency to let someone else do the thinking for us, but when it is someone who looks like a young Kyle McLachlan, that’s all right by us.

Paul is the bad boy of werewolves in Stephanie Meyers’ over-the-top Twilight vampire series. He has a lively temper that has endangered Bella, and he is the sworn enemy of the vampires led by Edward. This propensity toward violence is the cause of his often shifting form from human to wolf. Even though he eventually begins to get his volatility under control, we hope he doesn’t ever do a full 180 degree turn. You know what they say about bad boys – we all love them!

Paul Pennyfeather is the main character in Evelyn Waugh’s first published novel, Decline and Fall, published in 1928. This is a rollicking, satirical lampoon of British society in the 1920s, wherein our hapless hero is kicked out of Oxford, which gets him disinherited, which leads to a job as a teacher in a second-rate boys’ school, which gets him engaged to the mother of one of his pupils, which gets him imprisoned for his unwitting involvement in her nefarious doings, and which finally sees him escaped out of prison and restored to a semblance of normalcy. And he is thoroughly likeable throughout all this!

Paul Proteus iIs the protagonist of Kurt Vonnegut’s first novel, Player Piano, published in 1952, and excoriating the ills of over-mechanization in the modern world, with its tendency to polarize the classes. Our Paul is caught in the middle, poised for future wealth and success, but torn by a desire to join the rebelling members of society who wish to secure a more humane future. He struggles to ensure the validity of his leanings and to come to terms with the dichotomy between a life of ease and comfort and a life of purpose, and in so doing, plays out a drama that countless others have suffered through.

Popular Songs

ON PAUL

Ballad of Paul and Sheila
a song by Mason Jennings

The Ballad of Lea & Paul
a song by K's Choice

Me and Paul
a song by Waylon Jennings

Paul
a song by Eminem [explicit]

Paul Revere
a song by The Beastie Boys

Paul Rosenberg
a song by Eminem [explicit]

Famous People

NAMED PAUL

Paul McCartney (musician)
Paul Simon (musician)
Paul Newman (actor)
Paul Hewson (musician known as "Bono")
Paul Anka (singer)
Paul Allen (co-founder of Microsoft)
Paul Shaffer (musician)
Paul Reiser (actor)
Paul Revere (American hero)
Paul Runyan (golfer)
Paul Rudd (actor)
Paul McCartney (musician)
Paul Simon (musician)
Paul Newman (actor)
Paul Hewson (musician known as "Bono")
Paul Anka (singer)
Paul Allen (co-founder of Microsoft)
Paul Shaffer (musician)
Paul Reiser (actor)
Paul Revere (American hero)
Paul Runyan (golfer)
Paul Rudd (actor)
Paul McCartney (musician)
Paul Simon (musician)
Paul Newman (actor)
Paul Hewson (musician known as "Bono")
Paul Anka (singer)
Paul Allen (co-founder of Microsoft)
Paul Shaffer (musician)
Paul Reiser (actor)
Paul Revere (American hero)
Paul Runyan (golfer)
Paul Rudd (actor)

Children of Famous People

NAMED PAUL

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

Historic Figures

WITH THE NAME PAUL

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