Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Samuel

The name Samuel comes from the Biblical story told, quite appropriately, in the two books of Samuel. It starts with Hannah, wife of Elkanah, who will become the future mother of Samuel. But first she must suffer through torturous years of barrenness (remember Sarah, Rebecca and Rachel went through the same thing before producing Isaac, Jacob and Joseph, respectively). Hannah prayed mightily to God promising that if she has a child, she will dedicate him to the Lord. Soon afterwards, she conceives and gives birth to a son she calls Samuel because, “I have asked for him from the Lord” [1 Samuel 1:20]. The Hebrew “sha’ulme’el” means "asked of God" and the word “Shemuel” means "God has hearkened". In other words, Hannah asked for the son, and God listened; hence, the meaning of the name Samuel. And good thing God listened, because Samuel would go onto become one of Israel’s greatest leaders and usher in the Israel monarchy by anointing its first kings, Saul and then David. The name became popularized by the Puritans in the 16th century, and has also been a favorite among Jewish people.

All About the Baby Name – Samuel



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The name Samuel has not dropped off the Top 100 list of boys’ names for well over a century. At the turn of the 20th century, Samuel was a Top 20 name. Its lowest ranking to-date came in the 1960’s when it almost fell off the Top 100 list. At the turn of this century, Samuel is back at its heights. The name is trendy today and trendy of yesteryear. A classic name with both antique charm and ancient meaning, Samuel will probably always remain a top choice. It’s a cute name for a little boy, but also one that ages nicely into adulthood. The pet forms of Sam and Sammy also add alternatives. And given its etymological origins, it could be no-brainer choice if you’re hoping for a boy!

Quick Facts













God has hearkened; asked of God, God hears










Cultural References to the Baby Name – Samuel

Literary Characters


In 1836 Charles Dickens embarked upon a serialized string of stories about the adventures of Mr. Samuel Pickwick and friends that turned out to be so wildly popular it was shortly thereafter published as a novel, his first – Pickwick Papers. Samuel Pickwick is a wealthy, kindly and somewhat naïve old gentleman who, along with three companions, travels the English countryside in order to observe local customs and rituals, and to report back to their peers in “The Pickwick Club”. The comic adventures they experience are good tales in themselves, but the personal transformation of Mr. Pickwick from a bright-eyed innocent into a caring and understanding dealer in charitable goodwill is as important as the plot.

Samuel Hamilton is the good friend of Adam Trask in John Steinbeck’s 1952 novel, East of Eden. An Irish immigrant farmer, he and his wife raise nine children in love and comfort, if not wealth, whereas the Trask boys, having been abandoned by their mother, are being raised in a kind of spiritual poverty. Samuel Hamilton represents a pure force of good, a man who will not stand by while suffering exists. He is always there for his family and friends, and one of his last acts before dying is to tell Adam Trask the truth about his runaway wife, thereby liberating him, albeit painfully, from the twisted roots of his failure to face reality.

The Reverend Samuel is a good and kind missionary in Alice Walker’s famous novel, The Color Purple, published in 1982. He is a kind and loving father and husband, who takes in Nettie (the younger sister of the main character, Celie), nurturing and teaching her. He serves as a shining counterpoint to the male characters in the book, who cruelly dominate the women.

Popular Songs


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

Famous People


Sam Donaldson (news anchor)
Samuel George "Sammy" Davis, Jr. (entertainer)
Sam Elliott (actor)
Sam Houston (politician/ soldier)
Sam Mendes (director)
Sam Shepard (playwright/actor)
Sam Walton (tycoon)
Sam Warner (tycoon)
Sam Waterston (actor)
Samuel Beckett (Nobel Prize winning author)
Samuel Adams (Founding Father)
Samuel Goldwyn (film producer)
Samuel L. Jackson (actor)
Samuel Alito (Supreme Court Justice)
Samuel Taylor Coleridge (poet)
Samuel Clemens (genius)

Children of Famous People


Jennifer Garner; Ben Affleck; Heidi Klum;

Historic Figures


Samuel Langhorne Clemens (aka Mark Twain) is one of the most beloved of all American writers, known best, probably, for The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, embodying his boyhood memories of life in Missouri. Capturing the letter and the spirit of an age and time, he has given us with countless hours of enjoyment, education and entertainment through memorable characterizations and consummate humor. Always involved in writing of some sort, Samuel also spent time as a river boat pilot on the mighty Mississippi, which gave him the opportunity to observe a multitude of characters, and also provided him with his pen name, “Mark Twain” – “two fathoms deep” in river-speak. His long career(s) included novel-writing, travel-writing, journalism and lecturing, the proceeds from which helped to offset his losses in business endeavors. He was happily married to Olivia Langdon, but that happiness was also darkened by the death of a baby son in 1872, the death of one of his three adult daughters in 1896, followed by the death of his wife in 1904 and a second daughter in 1909. He himself died in 1910 at the age of 74, but he is truly made immortal through his writings, and in them, for his gentle insistence upon the essential purity of human nature.