According to Genesis in the Old Testament Adam was created from the earth by God (there is a word play on Hebrew אֲדָמָה ('adamah) meaning "earth"). He and Eve were supposedly the first humans, living happily in the Garden of Eden until they ate the forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. As a result they were expelled from Eden to the lands to the east, where they gave birth the second generation, including Cain, Abel and Seth.
As an English Christian name, Adam has been common since the Middle Ages, and it received a boost after the Protestant Reformation. A famous bearer was Scottish economist Adam Smith (1723-1790).
The name has been used by kings of Scotland, Poland and Yugoslavia, emperors of Russia, and eight popes. Other notable bearers include English poet Alexander Pope (1688-1744), American statesman Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804), Scottish-Canadian explorer Sir Alexander MacKenzie (1764-1820), Russian poet Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837), and Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922), the Scottish-Canadian-American inventor of the telephone.
This name experienced a rise in popularity at the end of the 20th century. It was the most popular name for girls in England and Wales from 2011 to 2015.
In England, this Latin form has been used alongside the vernacular forms Ann and Anne since the late Middle Ages. Anna is currently the most common of these spellings in all English-speaking countries (since the 1970s), however the biblical form Hannah is presently more popular than all three.
The name was borne by several Russian royals, including an 18th-century empress of Russia. It is also the name of the main character in Leo Tolstoy's novel Anna Karenina (1877), about a married aristocrat who begins an ultimately tragic relationship with Count Vronsky.
In the Middle Ages this name was common in England due to the popularity of medieval tales about the Trojan War. It subsequently became rare, but was revived in the 20th century.
Due to the popularity of the saint, the name became common in the Christian world during the Middle Ages. The Normans brought it to England, where it was commonly spelled Cecily — the Latinate form Cecilia came into use in the 18th century.
The popularity of the name in continental Europe was due to the fame of Charles the Great (742-814), commonly known as Charlemagne, a king of the Franks who came to rule over most of Europe. His grandfather Charles Martel had also been a noted leader of the Franks. It was subsequently the name of several Holy Roman emperors, as well as kings of France, Spain, Portugal, Sweden and Hungary (in various spellings). After Charlemagne, his name was adopted as a word meaning "king" in many Eastern European languages, for example Czech král, Hungarian király, Russian король (korol), and Turkish kral.
The name did not become common in Britain until the 17th century when it was borne by the Stuart king Charles I. It had been introduced into the Stuart royal family by Mary Queen of Scots, who had been raised in France.
Famous bearers of the name include naturalist Charles Darwin (1809-1882) who revolutionized biology with his theory of evolution, novelist Charles Dickens (1812-1870) who wrote such works as Great Expectations and A Tale of Two Cities, French statesman Charles de Gaulle (1890-1970), and American cartoonist Charles Schulz (1922-2000), the creator of the Peanuts comic strip.
As an English name it has been in use since the Middle Ages, originally in the form Clare, though the Latinate spelling Clara overtook it in the 19th century and became very popular. It declined through most of the 20th century (being eclipsed by the French form Claire in English-speaking countries), though it has since recovered somewhat.
The popularity of the name Eleanor in England during the Middle Ages was due to the fame of Eleanor of Aquitaine, as well as two queens of the following century: Eleanor of Provence, the wife of Henry III, and Eleanor of Castile, the wife of Edward I. More recently, it was borne by first lady Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962), the wife of American president Franklin Roosevelt.
Among Christians, this name was originally more common in Eastern Europe. It was borne in the 12th century by Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, a daughter of King Andrew II who used her wealth to help the poor. In medieval England it was occasionally used in honour of the saint, though the form Isabel (from Occitan and Spanish) was more common. It has been very popular in England since the reign of Queen Elizabeth I in the 16th century. In American name statistics (as recorded since 1880) it has never ranked lower than 30, making it the most consistently popular name for girls in the United States.
Besides Elizabeth I, this name has been borne (in various spellings) by many other European royals, including a ruling empress of Russia in the 18th century. Famous modern bearers include the British queen Elizabeth II (1926-) and actress Elizabeth Taylor (1932-2011).
There was a medieval English form of this name, Helewis, though it died out after the 13th century. In the 19th century it was revived in the English-speaking world in the form Eloise.
After the Norman Conquest this name became common in England. It was revived in the 18th century, perhaps in part due to Matthew Prior's 1709 poem Henry and Emma . It was also used by Jane Austen for the central character, the matchmaker Emma Woodhouse, in her novel Emma (1816).
In the United States, it was third in rank in 1880 (behind only the ubiquitous Mary and Anna). It declined steadily over the next century, beginning another rise in the 1980s and eventually becoming the most popular name for girls in 2008. At this time it also experienced similar levels of popularity elsewhere, including the United Kingdom (where it began rising a decade earlier), Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Scandinavia and the Netherlands. Famous bearers include the actresses Emma Thompson (1959-), Emma Stone (1988-) and Emma Watson (1990-).
This name was very popular in the English-speaking world at the end of the 19th century. Though it declined in use over the next 100 years, it staged a successful comeback at the end of the 20th century. The American sitcom Will and Grace (1998-2006) may have helped, though the name was already strongly rising when it premiered. It was the top name for girls in England and Wales in 2006.
As an English name, Hannah was not regularly used until after the Protestant Reformation, unlike the vernacular forms Anne and Ann and the Latin form Anna, which were used from the late Middle Ages. In the last half of the 20th century Hannah surged in popularity and neared the top of the name rankings for both the United States and the United Kingdom.
American writers Jack London (1876-1916) and Jack Kerouac (1922-1969) were two famous bearers of this name. It is also borne by the actor Jack Nicholson (1937-) and the golfer Jack Nicklaus (1940-). Apart from Nicklaus, none of these famous bearers were given the name Jack at birth.
In the United Kingdom this form has been bestowed more frequently than John since the 1990s, being the most popular name for boys from 1996 to 2008.
In the Middle Ages, Joseph was a common Jewish name, being less frequent among Christians. In the late Middle Ages Saint Joseph became more highly revered, and the name became popular in Spain and Italy. In England it became common after the Protestant Reformation. In the United States it has stayed within the top 25 names for boys since 1880, making it one of the most enduringly popular names of this era.
This name was borne by rulers of the Holy Roman Empire and Portugal. Other notable bearers include the founder of Mormonism Joseph Smith (1805-1844), Polish-British author Joseph Conrad (1857-1924) and the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin (1878-1953).
It has been common as a given name in the English-speaking world only since the 18th century. A famous modern bearer is American actress Julia Roberts (1967-).
The name was borne by a semi-legendary 4th-century saint and martyr from Alexandria who was tortured on a spiked wheel. The saint was initially venerated in Syria, and returning crusaders introduced the name to Western Europe. It has been common in England since the 12th century in many different spellings, with Katherine and Catherine becoming standard in the later Middle Ages. To this day both spellings are regularly used in the English-speaking world. In the United States the spelling Katherine has been more popular since 1973.
Famous bearers of the name include Catherine of Siena, a 14th-century mystic, and Catherine de' Medici, a 16th-century French queen. It was also borne by three of Henry VIII's wives, including Katherine of Aragon, and by two empresses of Russia, including Catherine the Great.
As an English name it has been very popular since the Middle Ages. It was the top name for girls in England and Wales in the 1920s, 30s and 40s, but it declined in the latter half of the 20th century.
Other saints by this name include a queen of Scotland and a princess of Hungary. It was also borne by Queen Margaret I of Denmark, who united Denmark, Sweden, and Norway in the 14th century. Famous literary bearers include American writer Margaret Mitchell (1900-1949), the author of Gone with the Wind, and Canadian writer Margaret Atwood (1939-). Others include American anthropologist Margaret Mead (1901-1978) and British prime minister Margaret Thatcher (1925-2013).
Though in use elsewhere in Europe, the name was very rare in the English-speaking world until the 19th century, when Queen Victoria began her long rule of Britain. She was named after her mother, who was of German royalty. Many geographic areas are named after the queen, including an Australian state and a Canadian city.
This was the name of the first English baby born in the New World: Virginia Dare in 1587 on Roanoke Island. Perhaps because of this, the name has generally been more popular in America than elsewhere in the English-speaking world, though in both Britain and America it was not often used until the 19th century. The baby was named after the Colony of Virginia, which was itself named for Elizabeth I, the Virgin Queen. A more recent bearer was the English novelist Virginia Woolf (1882-1941).
As an English name, Zoe (sometimes with a diaeresis as Zoë) has only been in use since the 19th century. It has generally been more common among Eastern Christians (in various spellings).