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Daniel Name Meaning: Origin, Popularity & Nicknames

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

Daniel Overview

  • Meaning: Daniel means “God is my judge,” but can also be understood to mean “God is my leader.”
  • Gender: Daniel is traditionally a male name, but can apply to girls as well.
  • Origin: Daniel originates from the Hebrew language, and was popularized by the Biblical figure and prophet Daniel. As his name suggests, Daniel remains loyal to God through trials and tribulations.
  • Pronunciation: Daniel is pronounced “DAN-yull.”
  • Popularity: Daniel is a very popular boy name in the United States.
  • Nicknames: Dan, Danny, Dani, Dee, Elle.
  • Variations: Daniela, Danielle, Dónall, Madon, Danilo.
  • Namesakes: Danny Devito, Daniel Inouye, Daniel Stern, and more.

What Does Daniel Mean?

While Daniel might seem like just another ordinary name, it has ancient origins, originating from the Judaic culture of the Levant. The name means “God is my judge.” This means that Daniel connotes humility, piety, and loyalty.

In the Hebrew Bible, there are two figures named Daniel. The first, and by far the more popular, is the hero of the eponymous Book of Daniel. This Daniel is a young Hebrew who is taken into captivity during the Babylonian exile and becomes a servant to King Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon.

Throughout the book, Daniel remains loyal to the God of Israel and does not partake of Babylon’s indulgences. For this, God rewards Daniel with the power to interpret dreams. This power and his experience being thrown into a den of lions are common motifs of Daniel’s appearances in Jewish, Christian, and Muslim culture (1).

The other Daniel in the Hebrew Bible is a minor figure. This Daniel is the third son of King David, though he is only mentioned once in the Bible.

What is the Origin of the Name Daniel?

The name is a composite of two Hebrew words: Din, (meaning to judge) and El. The former is an ancient Hebrew word. While the English connotations of the word “judge” often invoke scrutinizing something or the power of a courtroom judge, din refers to the authority of a wise or strong person rather than a government leader. The word El is one of the Seven Names of God in Judaism.

These words make the name Daniel, which means “God is my judge.” Given the context above, we might also give a translation like “God is my leader” or “I follow God.”

How Popular is the Name Daniel?

Currently, Daniel is a very popular name in the United States. In 2020, it was the 14th most popular name for male babies and has floated around the top 20 for the last 60 years.

In the long term, the name Daniel has steadily increased in popularity.

In 1900, it was the 44th most popular name. The name hit its nadir in between 1907 and 1917, when it was the 54th most popular name four different times.

During the 1940s, however, the name surged in popularity, quickly jumping into the top 20. It peaked on a few occasions: in 1985, 1990, 2007, and 2008, it was the 5th most popular name in the nation.

How Do I Pronounce Daniel?

Daniel is pronounced “DAN-yull.” The second part of the name is a diphthong, meaning that it should be pronounced as one combined sound, rather than a cluster of distinct sounds (in other words, do not pronounce it as Dan-ee-ehl).

Is Daniel a Boy or Girl Name?

Daniel has long been prolific as a male name. However, many parents have adopted the name and its variations as names for girls, and it is entirely possible to assign a version of the name to any baby. Notably, the spelling and pronunciation typically change if the name is gendered differently.

Variations of Daniel

There are several variations of the name Daniel. Some are Hebrew variations, while others are longer or shorter forms.

Possible variations of Daniel include:

  • Abidan (Hebrew, male)
  • Dan (Hebrew, male)
  • Dana (Czech, Polish)
  • Daniela (Latin, female)
  • Danielle (English, female)
  • Dănuṭ (Romanian)
  • Daniele (French, Lithuanian)
  • Danilo (Brazilian Portuguese, Italian, Slovene, Serbian, Ukrainian)
  • Danuta (Polish)
  • Daeniao (Thai)
  • Dan-jaan (Hebrew)
  • Dinah (Hebrew)
  • Dónall (Irish, male)
  • Madon (Hebrew)
  • Midian (Hebrew)

Nicknames for Daniel

If you’re looking for a nickname, there is a plethora that works with the name Daniel. Some of these names are gender-specific, but many work for both genders.

Possible nicknames for Daniel include:

  • Dan
  • Dani
  • Danny
  • Dee
  • DeeDee
  • Elle
  • Neal

Similar Names to Daniel

If you appreciate the name Daniel, you might also like other traditional Hebrew names. Considering the millennia-long history of Hebrew culture, there is a wide variety of names to choose from.

Similar names to Daniel include:

Middle Names for Daniel

There is a wide variety of middle names that would work well with the first name Daniel. You might choose a traditional Hebrew name or simply a name that rolls off the tongue.

Some middle name ideas for Daniel include:

Sibling Names for Daniel

If you name your child Daniel and want to give their siblings a name that rolls off the tongue, you have plenty of choices. You might pick another Hebrew name, an alliterative name, or a timeless classic

Sibling names for a brother:

Sibling names for a sister:

Famous People Named Daniel

Since Daniel is such a popular name, there are quite a few Daniels in the annals of history and modern-day culture, from actors to artists and politicians to poets.

Other famous people named Daniel include:

  • Dan Aykroyd: Actor and comedian.
  • Dan Brown: American writer.
  • Daniel Day-Lewis: British actor.
  • Danny DeVito: Americanactor.
  • Danny Glover: American actor and film director.
  • Daniel Inouye: U.S. representative and senator from Hawaii and president pro tempore of U.S. Senate.
  • Dan Levy: Actor and comedian.
  • Dan Marino: Famed quarterback of the Miami Marlins.
  • Dan Savage: LGBTQ activist and creator of the It Gets Better project.

Daniel in Popular Culture

Just as there are too many famous Daniels to count, there is a wealth of Daniels who has appeared in popular culture.

Characters named Daniel in popular culture include:

  • Daniel Deronda: Titular character of George Eliot’s 1876 novel Daniel Deronda
  • Danny Phantom: Main character of Danny Phantom.
  • Dani Phantom: Character on Danny Phantom.
  • Danny Tanner: Character on Full House.
  • Daniel Tiger: Character in Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and Daniel Tiger.
  • Danny Zuko: Character in Grease.

Daniel FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions about the name Daniel.

Is Daniel an Irish Name?

No, Daniel is a name of Hebrew origin meaning “God is my judge.”

Is Daniel a Popular Name?

The name Daniel is very popular, having been in the top 100 American names since 1900.

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