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Caleb Name Meaning: Origin, Popularity & Nicknames

Learn about the name Caleb including the meaning, gender, origin, popularity, and more.

Caleb Overview

  • Meaning: Wholehearted, brave, faithful
  • Gender: Male
  • Origin: Hebrew, Biblical name
  • Pronunciation: Kay-lub
  • Popularity: #57 in 2022
  • Nicknames: Cay, Cal, Cale
  • Variations: Khalev, Kaleb, Cale
  • Namesakes: Caleb Landry Jones, Caleb Hanie, Caleb from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

What Does Caleb Mean?

Caleb can mean various things but primarily is translated to “wholehearted” or “faithful.” It can also mean “bold,” “brave,” or “dog,” depending on your translation. Most parents don’t want to name their child “dog,” so we’ll go with the former meaning.

What is the Origin of the Name Caleb?

Caleb is originally a Biblical boy’s name, coming from the Old Testament. It’s a Hebrew boy’s name, coming from two different Hebrew words, “Kal” and “lev.” Kal means “whole,” and lev means “heart.”

The two words mean “wholehearted,” and the pronunciation has changed through translation and time. Now, the V is pronounced as B, which brings us to the name we have today.

Caleb was a biblical hero who accompanied Joshua to the Promised Land. He was a faithful Israelite and a great warrior, and one of two Israelites who made it from Egypt to the land of Canaan.

How Popular is the Name Caleb?

Caleb is a consistently popular name, having been in the top 100 games of the year for the last three and half decades. However, it’s never quite at the top of the list, usually ranking in the mid-50s. It was the most popular in 2009 when the name hit number #34.

Currently, Caleb ranks about #57 in popularity. Not as ubiquitous as some of the most popular names of the year, but common enough that you won’t have to worry about people pronouncing it wrong.

How Do I Pronounce Caleb?

Speaking of pronunciation, it’s about time we got to that. The proper pronunciation of Caleb is “Kay-lub.” There aren’t any other variations on the pronunciation–pretty much just the one way of pronouncing it. So don’t stress about pronouncing it wrong!

Is Caleb a Boy or Girl Name?

Caleb is traditionally a male name and has very rarely been used for girls. However, parents can use it for both boys and girls.

Variations of Caleb

Caleb doesn’t have very many variations, but there are a few. Most of them are either English or Hebrew, with a few Greek and Latin options. These variations of Caleb are both in English and Hebrew:

  • Kaleb
  • Khaleb
  • Khalev
  • Kalib
  • Chaleb
  • Cale

Nicknames for Caleb

There are not a ton of nicknames for Caleb. Maybe because it’s a two-syllable word, perhaps because it’s a traditional Bible name, Caleb doesn’t get shortened all that much. However, there are a few (but maybe don’t try these on a Caleb unless you’re best pals).

  • Cale
  • Cal
  • Cay
  • C

Similar Names to Caleb

There aren’t many similar names to Caleb for pronunciation and spelling. However, lots of Biblical names have meanings and religious significance. Here are some of the most common names:

Middle Names for Caleb

Caleb is a two-syllable name, so it’s best to have a one-syllable or three-syllable middle name. Of course, you want to pick a name that means something important or special to you. Before you choose a name that sounds nice, make sure you are thinking about the meaning as well:

Sibling Names for Caleb

If you already have a Caleb, you might be looking for a sibling name. With more than one kid, you want names that go well together. Here are some of the best sibling names for Caleb, for both girls and boys:

Famous People Named Caleb

With Caleb being in the top 100 names for almost forty years, it’s no surprise that there have been some famous folks with the name. Several Calebs have risen to fame throughout history. You might not know them all, but here they are!

  • Caleb Landry Jones: American actor and musician.
  • Caleb Hanie: American football player with the Chicago Bears.
  • Caleb McLaughlin: An American actor.
  • Caleb Bradham: Inventor of Pepsi.
  • Caleb Rowdie: Politician

Caleb in Popular Culture

Of course, the name Caleb has had its share of fictional fame as well. There are plenty of characters named Caleb (usually older brothers or friend characters). Here is an incomplete list of the most famous fictional Calebs and where you can find them:

  • Caleb: The villain from the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
  • Caleb Rivers: A side character from the TV show Pretty Little Liars.
  • Caleb Bradley: From the novel The Fountainhead
  • Caleb Prior: A brother from the book and movie Divergent.
  • Caleb Trask: The main character in the novel East of Eden.
  • Caleb: A character in the comic books and animated series W.I.T.C.H.

Caleb FAQs

If you’ve still got questions after all of that, don’t worry. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about the name Caleb and their answers. Check them out and see if we can answer you!

Why Does Caleb Mean Dog?

There are two likely Hebrew words that the modern name Caleb derives from. The first combination is “Kal” and “lev,” as we mentioned above. However, the Hebrew word for dog is “kelev.” Admittedly, that’s pretty similar. However, Caleb in the Bible is known for his loyalty and true-heartedness, so most people go with that definition.

What Happened to Caleb in the Bible?

Biblically, Caleb was one of twelve spies sent to check out the Promised Land before the Israelites entered it. He and Joshua came back and encouraged the people of Israel to enter Canaan. However, the other ten were afraid and said it would be impossible to conquer.

For this (and other various Old Testament reasons), Caleb and Joshua became the only two Israelites to leave Egypt and make it to the Promised Land (the others died along the way, and new generations were born). Joshua became the new leader after Moses, and Caleb was a trusted advisor and elder.

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