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All About the Name Ethan


Updated April 28, 2014

Ethan popularity

Ethan Hawke's portrayal of the shy Todd Anderson in 1989s Dead Poets Society could have bolstered popularity of the name Ethan.

Pascal Le Segretain | Getty Images

Meaning of Ethan:

Ethan is from the Hebrew name meaning "strong, enduring." In the Old Testament of the Bible, the name is briefly mentioned throughout the books of 1 Kings and 1 Chronicles. Perhaps one of the most notable references is of Ethan the Ezraite who was known for his great wisdom (1 Kings 4:31).

Popularity of Ethan:

Historically speaking, Ethan has not been all that popular of a name. After the American Revolutionary War, the name did pick up slightly in popularity in the United States. Likely this was due to the war hero, Ethan Allen. However, browsing the Social Security Administrations Popular Baby Name lists reveals that Ethan did not begin consistently appearing in the top 1000 baby names until 1956.

Even then from 1956 through 1988, it was very low on the charts. In '88 it only ranked 263, accounting for 891 baby boys born that year. Then something happened in 1989. Ethan LEAPED up the chart, landing at position 87 with more than 4,000 Ethans born than year. It steadily and quickly climbed the charts, cracking the Top 50 Names in '97, and the Top 10 in 2002. Ethan has held the #2 position in 2009-2010, taking a backseat to the ever-popular Jacob.

For the entire first decade of this year, Ethan was the ninth most popular decade. See also: popular baby names of 2000 - 2009.

.So you can see that although only 891 Ethans were born in 1988, an explosion in popularity occurred with over 17,000 boys taking on the monicker in 2010.

Why Is Ethan So Popular?

All that information sent me on a quest to see if I could find out what happened in 1989 that made the name so incredibly popular. Though I am not certain, I think I found the answer. In 1989, an up-and-coming young actor made his breakthrough role in an acclaimed movie. The movie, Dead Poets Society, was nominated for 14 Academy Awards and took home 1. The actor, a young man named Ethan Hawke, would go on to other noteworthy roles in Alive, Reality Bites, and Training Day which may have helped increase the popularity of the name.

Ethan has been dominating the top 5 baby names compiled by the Social Security Administration for the past 6 years. Parents considering the name might reflect on its popularity in different ways. When looking at the Top 100 Names of the Past Century Ethan is barely making the cut. And when you group together names pronounced the same, Ethan does fall a bit back on the chart. Aiden, Jayden, Jacob, and Jackson with their various spellings become much more popular than Ethan, which seems to have a standard spelling.

Worldwide, Ethan is experiencing a boost in popularity as well:

  • #1 in Canada (Alberta)
  • #1 in Canada (British Columbia)
  • #1 in Canada (Ontario)
  • #1 in Canada (Saskatchewan)
  • #7 in Wales
  • #11 in Australia (New South Wales)
  • #11 in Australia (Victoria)
  • #11 in Northern Ireland
  • #13 in New Zealand
  • #15 in England
  • #20 in Belgium
  • #31 in Scotland
  • #54 in Ireland
  • #75 in Canada (Quebec)


Ethan is pronounced EE-thən.

Middle Names for Ethan:

Some ideas for middle names include:

  • Ethan Bryce
  • Ethan Charles
  • Ethan Gregory
  • Ethan John
  • Ethan James
  • Ethan Patrick
  • Ethan Scott
  • Ethan Tyler

Share your suggestions for middle names at the "Write a Review" link below.

Ethan Nicknames:

Ok. I am struggling a bit here to come up with nicknames. I am thinking perhaps simply, "E" or using initials. Ethan seems to be fairly nickname proof to me.

Sibling Name Suggestions:

If your are looking for a well-paired sibling set of names, you might consider choosing another biblical name, a name beginning with the letter "E", or a name with two syllables. Some suggestions might be:

  • For girls: Abigail, Ava, Elizabeth, Ella, Emily, Hannah, Olivia, Sarah
  • For boys: Adam, Benjamin, Caleb, Edward, Ian, James, Nathan, Samuel

Baby Name Trends:

The past several decades, Biblical names have been a popular naming trend for boys. We may also consider the "Hollywood" factor, as this generation of parents does seem to be very interested in turning to star-power for baby naming inspiration.

Famous Ethans:

  • Ethan Hawke, Actor
  • Ethan Horton, Football Player
  • Ethan Howell, Football Player
  • Ethan Kelley, Football Player
  • Ethan Kilmer, Football Player
  • Ethan Moreau, Professional Hockey Player
  • Ethan Phillips, Actor
  • Ethan Suplee, Actor

Celebrity Babies Named Ethan:

  • Ethan Page Furlong (2006), son of Edward Furlong and Rachael Bella
  • Ethan Zane Browne (1973), son of Jackson Browne
  • Ethan Holliday (2007), son of Matt Holliday
  • Ethan Davison (1996), son of Bruce Davison
  • Ethan Gorham (2003), son of Christopher Gorham
  • Ethan Riley Saucedo (2001), son of Rebecca Ann Liberty Herbst
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