Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Thomas

The name Thomas comes to us from the New Testament, borne by one of Jesus’ 12 apostles and one to whom Christ appeared after his resurrection. 
 
According to John 20:24: “Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came…But he said to them, ‘Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.’”  Eight days later, Jesus appeared directly to Thomas himself; this time, Thomas believed. However, he was henceforth referred to as “Doubting Thomas” since he had to be convinced of Jesus’ resurrection. Who can blame the guy? It was this “doubting” quality that humanized the Biblical character and popularized the name in Christendom.
 
Thomas is essentially the English form of the Greek “Didymus,” itself taken from the Aramaic Ta’oma which means, quite simply, “the twin” (although there is no evidence that St. Thomas the Apostle was a twin himself).
 
For the first several centuries AD, the name Thomas was used almost exclusively among priests in an act of humility (owing to Thomas's "doubting" incident in the Bible).  The general population of Western Europeans were reintroduced to this name during the Crusades (a series of Holy Wars starting in the 11th century). By the 12th century, Thomas was quite popular throughout England... bestowing names of the saints - particularly those of the apostles - became a standard naming practice among Medieval Christians, often seen as a protective measure.  Surely the saint would look favorably upon the child from heaven, and God would keep safe name bearers of His beloved saints.
 
The English martyr Thomas Becket, an archbishop of Canterbury who was famously slain by a couple of King Henry II’s knights on the church altar while delivering a sermon, supplied the name with additional honor in the English speaking world.
 
"No doubt," Thomas has remained a perennial favorite among all English-speaking nations. It’s currently ranked #48 in the United States (2016) - but in Australia and Great Britain, Thomas is a Top 10. 

All About the Baby Name – Thomas

Personality

OF THE BOY NAME THOMAS

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 THOMAS

Thomas has been a constant favorite in America. The name has been ranked on the Top 25 list of most commonly used boy names since 1880 (the first year the U.S. government began tracking naming trends). It would take well over 100 years (1990s) before Thomas would finally fall off the Top 25 list. The name was mostly popular in the 1930s, 40s and 50s when it was a Top 10 favorite nationwide. Nonetheless, Thomas is like John and Robert – names that have stuck around at high levels of popularity for centuries. Like John and Robert, though, Thomas is experiencing backwards momentum on the American charts right now. Its loss in stature is mild, but the slow and steady downward trend seems to indicate that American parents are looking beyond traditional choices when naming their sons. For parents that appreciate time-tested tradition, however, Thomas remains a great choice. Tommy is cute for the little guy, Tom is strong and no-nonsense for the older ones, and Thomas is elegant and confident all by himself. We would also consider this a great name if your little baby boy happens to be a twin (or even a Gemini for that matter).

Quick Facts

ON THOMAS

GENDER:

Boy

ORIGIN:

English

NUMBER OF SYLLABLES:

2

RANKING POPULARITY:

61

PRONUNCIATION:

TAH-mәs

SIMPLE MEANING:

The twin

Characteristics

OF THOMAS

The Master Builder

Leader

Large Undertakings

Confidence

Discipline

Organization

Cultural References to the Baby Name – Thomas

Literary Characters

OF THE BABY NAME THOMAS

Popular Songs

ON THOMAS

Geoffrey Thomas
a song by Sham 69

Keep Your Promise Willie Thomas
a song by Hank Snow

Dylan Thomas Days
a song by The Gathering Field

Doubting Thomas
a song by Nickel Creek

Hey Thomas
a song by Wizo

St. Thomas
a song by Peter Frampton

Thomas
a song by A Perfect Circle [explicit]

Famous People

NAMED THOMAS

Saint Thomas Becket (archbishop of Canterbury)
Thomas Aquinas (theologian and philosopher)
Thomas Hobbes (philosopher)
Thomas Jefferson (U.S. President)
Thomas Hardy (novelist)
Thomas Edison (inventor)
Thomas Woodrow Wilson (U.S. President)
Thomas Pynchon (author)
Thomas Mann (German novelist and Noble laureate)
Thomas “Tom” Hanks (actor)
Thomas Harris (author)
Thomas “Tom” Cruise (actor)
Thomas Dolby (musician)
Saint Thomas Becket (archbishop of Canterbury)
Thomas Aquinas (theologian and philosopher)
Thomas Hobbes (philosopher)
Thomas Jefferson (U.S. President)
Thomas Hardy (novelist)
Thomas Edison (inventor)
Thomas Woodrow Wilson (U.S. President)
Thomas Pynchon (author)
Thomas Mann (German novelist and Noble laureate)
Thomas “Tom” Hanks (actor)
Thomas Harris (author)
Thomas “Tom” Cruise (actor)
Thomas Dolby (musician)
Saint Thomas Becket (archbishop of Canterbury)
Thomas Aquinas (theologian and philosopher)
Thomas Hobbes (philosopher)
Thomas Jefferson (U.S. President)
Thomas Hardy (novelist)
Thomas Edison (inventor)
Thomas Woodrow Wilson (U.S. President)
Thomas Pynchon (author)
Thomas Mann (German novelist and Noble laureate)
Thomas “Tom” Hanks (actor)
Thomas Harris (author)
Thomas “Tom” Cruise (actor)
Thomas Dolby (musician)

Children of Famous People

NAMED THOMAS

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

Historic Figures

WITH THE NAME THOMAS

One of the best known poets of the twentieth century, Dylan Thomas hailed from a seaside port in Wales. He started publishing poetry at the age of 20 and instantly received critical acclaim. As his popularity grew in Britain, he was invited to the United States for a series of readings. Thomas became legendary in the United States, and gained a large following. Nevertheless, his last years were shadowed by an increasingly tragic view of his own darkly tempestuous life. After a particularly long alcohol binge, Thomas died in New York in 1953. He was only 39 years old. Although his life was short, Thomas made a deep impression and his poems are immortal. The last two lines of Dylan Thomas’ most famous poem “Do not go gentle into that good night” (written not long before his own death) read: "Do not go gentle into that good night. / Rage, rage against the dying of the light."

One of the best known poets of the twentieth century, Dylan Thomas hailed from a seaside port in Wales. He started publishing poetry at the age of 20 and instantly received critical acclaim. As his popularity grew in Britain, he was invited to the United States for a series of readings. Thomas became legendary in the United States, and gained a large following. Nevertheless, his last years were shadowed by an increasingly tragic view of his own darkly tempestuous life. After a particularly long alcohol binge, Thomas died in New York in 1953. He was only 39 years old. Although his life was short, Thomas made a deep impression and his poems are immortal. The last two lines of Dylan Thomas’ most famous poem “Do not go gentle into that good night” (written not long before his own death) read: "Do not go gentle into that good night. / Rage, rage against the dying of the light."

Olive Thomas was a beautiful young movie actress during the silent era of filmmaking and well-known for her early death. Born in Pennsylvania to an Irish family of modest means, Olive moved to New York City when she was 18. It was shortly thereafter that the young girl won a contest called “The Most Beautiful Girl in New York City” which landed her a cover on the Saturday Evening Post and a position with the Ziegfeld Follies. She performed a risqué act in the “Midnight Frolic” show which made her uber-popular with the wealthy males in the audience. She was known for her remarkable beauty, porcelain skin and bright violet eyes framed in long dark eyelashes. The men went crazy for her and lavished her with gifts. Eventually Olive made her way into films and met and married actor Jack Pickford (brother of Mary Pickford). The two young lovers eloped and led a volatile and wild life in the fast lane of partying. In 1920, at the age of 25, Olive Thomas, mistaking the bottle for something else, accidentally swallowed poison in a French hotel room while on a second honeymoon with her husband. She tragically died a few days later and her body was brought back to New York for a jam packed funeral ceremony. She became a poster child of her day for the fast-living consequences of successful youth. It is said her ghost still roams the New Amsterdam Theatre in New York City.

One of the best known poets of the twentieth century, Dylan Thomas hailed from a seaside port in Wales. He started publishing poetry at the age of 20 and instantly received critical acclaim. As his popularity grew in Britain, he was invited to the United States for a series of readings. Thomas became legendary in the United States, and gained a large following. Nevertheless, his last years were shadowed by an increasingly tragic view of his own darkly tempestuous life. After a particularly long alcohol binge, Thomas died in New York in 1953. He was only 39 years old. Although his life was short, Thomas made a deep impression and his poems are immortal. The last two lines of Dylan Thomas’ most famous poem “Do not go gentle into that good night” (written not long before his own death) read: "Do not go gentle into that good night / Rage, rage against the dying of the light."