Biblical Names With Unusual Meanings

Name Nerds main

A lot of names from the Bible are in use today; we're used to meeting people named Elizabeth, Rebecca, Michael, Joseph etc. However, the bible has thousands of characters, some of them only mentioned in passing. Many of these names have odd or puzzling meanings. Here are a few! Boys' names are listed first, and girls' names come after. Because there are far fewer women listed in the Bible (and even fewer mentioned in the book I used), the girls' list is woefully small. (these are taken from a bunch of different sources, but mainly from the Holman Illustrated Pocket Bible Dictionary copyright 2006 Holman Bible Publishers, Nashville TN).


Name Meaning
Abel vanity; breath; vapor
Abner my father is a lamp
Agabus locust
Ahaz he has grasped
Ahikam my brother stood up
Ahimaaz my brother is counselor or brother is anger
Ahishahar brother of the dawn
Aiah hawk (sound imitating the cry of a hawk)
Alemeth concealed; dark
Amasai burden-bearer
Ammihud my people are splendid
Amminadab my people give freely
Amok deep
Anah answer
Anan cloud
Anani cloudy or 'he heard me'
Aniam "I am people," "I am an uncle" or "mourning of the people"
Anub "grape" or "with a mustache"
Appaim nostrils
Arah "ox" or "traveler"
Archippus first among horsemen
Arnan quick
Arza "wood-worm" or "earthiness"
Asaf he collected
Ashbel having a long upper lip
Atad thorn
Ater crippled; left-handed
Azmaveth "death is strong" or "strong as death"
Baara burning
Bakbuk bottle
Bakbukiah Yahweh's bottle
Barzillai made of iron
Bedad "scatter" or "to be alone"
Belah he swallowed
Ben-Hur son of a camel
Beor burning
Bera "with evil" or "victory"
Bered cool
Birsha ugly
Bohan thumb; big toe
Bunni built
Buz scorn
Caiaphas "rock" or "depression"
Chenaanah tradeswoman
Chidon crescent sword
Chilion sickly
Chimham paleface
Chislon clumsy
Cozbi my falsehood
Cushan-Rihathaim dark one of double evil
Dalphon sleepless
Dardah pearl of knowledge
Darkon hard
Diblaim two fig cakes
Dibri talkative; gossip
Dishan bison; antelope
Doeg full of fear
Ebal bare
Eder "puddle" or "herd"
Efron dusty
Elikah "my god has vomited"
Ephah darkness
Ephlal notched; cracked
Ezbon bare
Gaal scarab or loathing
Gaash rising and falling noisily
Gabbai tax collector
Gaham burning
Gahar "hiding place"; "drought"; "small in spirit"; "red-faced"
Galal "rolling" or 'turtle'
Gallio one who lives on milk
Gareb scabby
Gatam puny
Gazez sheep-shearing
Gazzam "caterpillar" or "bird of prey"
Gemalli "camel driver" or "my camel"
Genubath "theft" or "foreign guest"
Gera "stranger; traveler"
Gershon "expelled" or "bell"
Geshem rainstorm
Gideon one who cuts to pieces; feller
Guni black-winged partridge
Hadlai "quit" or "fat sack"
Hagab "grasshopper" or "chamberlain"
Hakkatan small one; lesser
Hakkoz the thorn
Hakupha crooked; bent
Hallohesh whisperer; exorcist
Hamor ass
Hamran vineyard
Hamul pitied; spared
Happizzez "hasty" or "the shattered one"
Harbona barren
Hareph "clever" or "reproach"
Hariph "fresh" or "sharp"
Harsha "mute; silent" or "magician"
Harumaph split-nosed
Hashem the name
Hashum flat-nosed
Hasrah lack
Hassenaah "thorny" or "the hated one"
Hathath  weakling
Hatipha robbed
Hatita dug up
Hatita "bored a hole", "festival" or "soft"
Hazarmaveth court of death
Heldai mole
Hepher pit
heresh "unable to speak"
Hezir boar
Hezir wild pig
Homan confusion
Hori bleached
Hotham "seal" or "lock"
Hothir he caused to be a remnant
Hul ring
Hushah hurry
Idalah "jackal" or "memorial"
Idbash sweet as honey
Ikkesh perverted; false
Immer lamb
Imrah he is obstinate
Iri "my city" or "my donkey's colt"
Ish-Bosheth man of shame
Ishpah bald head
Issachar man for hire
Ithmah orphan
Izhar "olive oil" or "he sparkles"
Jabez sorrow
Korah bald
Lo-Ammi not my people
Machir sold
Mahlon sickly
Merari bitterness; gall
Nabal "fool" or "rude; ill-bred"
Naboth sprout
Naharai "intelligent" or "snorting"
Nahbi "hidden" or "timid"
Nahor "snore" or "snort"
Nahshon serpent
Naphish refreshed
Nehushta "serpent" or "bronze"
Nekoda speckled
Nepheg boaster
Nimshi weasel
Nobah barking; howling
Nohah quiet
Obal stout
Oreb raven
Oren cedar
Parosh flea
Paruah "blossoming", "joyous" or "increase"
Pasach divider
Pedahzur the rock redeems
Pekah open-eyed
Pelet escape
Perida "unique" or "separated"
Phinehas "dark-skinned", "serpent's mouth"  or "mouth of brass"
Piram wild ass
Rakem multi-colored
Resheph flame
Rinnah ringing cry
Rohgah cry out
Shaphan wild hare
Shem name
Tabbaoth signet ring
Tahash porpoise or dugong (related to manatees)
Tahath "beneath; low" or "substitute; compensation"
Tappuah apple or quince
Tebah slaughter
Telah breach; fracture
Terah ibex
Tibni "intelligent" or "straw"
Tiria fear
Toi error
Tola crimson worm
Trophimus nutritious
Ulla burden; yoke
Uz replacement
Vashni weak
Zaavan tremble; quake
Zaham "fatness" or "loathing"
Zalaph caper plant
Zebah slaughter or sacrifice
Zebina purchased
Zeeb wolf
Zelek cleft; fissure
Zelophehad protection from terror
Zemira song
Zerah sunrise
Zeresh shaggy-headed; disheveled
Zeror "bundle; pouch" or "particle of stone"
Zethan olive tree
Zia trembling
Zibeon little hyena
Zophah jug
Zophai honeycomb


Name Meaning
Abishag My father strayed; my father is a wanderer
Azubah forsaken
Basemath balsam
Bilhah un-worried
Damaris heifer
Dinah "justice" or "artistically formed"
Eglah heifer; young cow
Hazzalelponi "coming shadows" or "overshadows my face"
Helah jewelry for the neck
Hodesh new moon
Huldah mole
Iscah they look
Mara bitter
Naarah "girl" or "mill"
Oholah tent-dweller
Peninnah "woman with rich hair", "coral", "pearl", "precious stone"
Reumah coral
Rizpah "glowing coals" or "bread heated over glowing coals"
Taphath droplet
Timnah "holding in check" or "she protects"
Zeruah stricken; leprous