Ethan is the third most popular baby name in the nation (after Jacob and Michael). But it wasn't always so popular -- especially in comparison to the other names in the top 10.
During the entire first half of the 1900s, Ethan only managed to crack the top 1,000 once. To put this in perspective: names like Abner, Clovis, Dempsey, Lafayette, Norval, Rowland, Wardell and Vester -- names that are nearly unheard of nowadays -- ranked more often than Ethan did during this period of time. Shocking, isn't it?
Ethan finally started gaining ground in the mid-1950s. It steadily climbed the popularity charts through the 1960s, and seemed to be plateauing in the 1970s and 1980s...until there was a spike in 1989. This increased level of usage never "normalized" (even though that is what typically happens when a name spikes) but kept on climbing. Ethan reached the top 10 in 2002, and has been #3 for two years.
Many top ten names (Anthony, Daniel, Michael, William) have been consistently popular since baby name statistics were first collected in the late 19th century. Other top 10 names (Alexander, Christopher, Jacob, Joshua, Matthew) haven't always been consistently popular, but they've placed comfortably within the top 1,000 during that same window. But no current top 10 name came out of virtually nowhere and experienced as dramatic a rise as Ethan did.
Where does the name Ethan come from? Though it doesn't have "-el" ending that so clearly mark many Biblical names, it does have similar Hebrew roots. It means something along the lines of strong, steadfast and enduring.
Some notable real-life Ethans include:
- Ethan Coen (b. 1957), film director and screenwriter.
- Ethan Allen (1738-1789), early American revolutionary and general.
- Ethan Hawke (b. 1970), actor.
The name has also been featured as a character name recently in film (like Mission Impossible) and on television (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Lost, Lizzie McGuire).
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