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Israel Name Meaning: Origin, Popularity & Nicknames

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

Israel Overview

  • Meaning: Israel means “fighter of God,” “triumphant with God,” “God contended,” or “Wrestles with God.
  • Gender: Israel is traditionally a boy’s name but can be gender-neutral.
  • Origin: Israel is a Hebrew name with origins in the Bible. It’s the name Jacob gets after “struggling with God.”
  • Pronunciation: “iz-ry-el” or “iz-ree-uhl”
  • Popularity: Israel is a popular baby boy name in the United States.
  • Nicknames: Ira, Isa, Issy, Iz, Izzy, and Rae.
  • Variations: Azrael, Azreel, Azriel, Azryel, Isreal, and Yisrael.
  • Namesakes: Yisrael Meir Lau and Israel Houghton.

What Does Israel Mean?

Israel is traditionally a Hebrew name and has biblical roots. The name Israel has several meanings that are all reasonably similar. Israel means “fighter of God,” “triumphant with God,” “God contended,” or “Wrestles with God.” (1).

Another more general meaning of this Hebrew name is “one who struggles with God.” Some people also associate the meaning of the name with the country of Israel.

What is the Origin of the Name Israel?

The name Israel’s origin comes from the Bible. In the Bible, Jacob, Abraham’s grandchild, wrestles with an angel at the ford of Jabbok (2).

He was then given the new name Israel. Jacob’s “struggles with God” and his new name are how we get the meaning of this beautiful name.

This origin story is also how the ancient state of Israel and the current state got the name Israel.

How Popular is the Name Israel?

Although it might seem like a rare name, Israel is popular in the United States. According to the Social Security Administration, it ranked 234th for popularity among baby boys in 2021 (3).

If we start looking back, Israel is still a pretty common name. In 2020, it was ranked 236th, 233rd in 2019, and 240th in 2018. Even ten years ago, in 2002, the name Israel stayed within a similar ranking at 251.

Something to note about the popularity of the name Israel is that while many cultures use the name for both boys and girls, in the United States, this name only ranks under baby boy names.

How Do I Pronounce Israel?

There are two popular pronunciations of the name Israel. The first is “iz-ry-el.” The other way to pronounce it is “iz-ree-uhl.”

Is Israel a Boy or Girl Name?

Any name can be a boy or girl name if you want it to be. If you were to ask most people, they’d tell you that Israel is most commonly used as a boy’s name. But, in many cultures, specifically Israeli, Israel is a gender-neutral name.

Variations of Israel

Israel is an older name, so you can expect to see several variations of it. Even with its age, there aren’t a ton of variations. That being said, these are some of the best versions of the name:

  • Azrael
  • Azreel
  • Azriel
  • Azryel
  • Isreal
  • Yisrael (Hebrew)

Nicknames for Israel

Everyone deserves a great nickname, and Israel comes with several excellent ones that you’ll love. Here are a handful of nicknames that work perfectly with the name Israel:

  • Ira
  • Isa
  • Issy
  • Iz
  • Izzy
  • Rae

Similar Names to Israel

Israel is a great name. But if you’re curious about other names that have a similar meaning or sound similar, these are some of the best options:

  • Abraham
  • Ibrahim
  • Ichabod
  • Ignacio
  • Immanuel
  • Isaiah
  • Ishmael
  • Isidore
  • Issac
  • Issachar
  • Ivan

Middle Names for Israel

You don’t have to give your baby a middle name, but if you want to, these are some of the best options to give your baby Israel:

Sibling Names for Israel

You don’t have to have children’s names that pair well together, but it’s a common practice. Other Hebrew or biblical names pair well with Israel, but your next baby’s name doesn’t have to be just because Israel is.

If you’re trying to think of great sibling names for your child Israel, these are some of the best choices that pair well with the name.

For a sister:

For a brother:

Famous People Named Israel

Israel isn’t the most commonly used name, so there are not many famous people with this excellent name. Many people with the first name Israel go by another name or a version of Israel. Some of the famous people you may recognize with this name are:

  • Israel ben Eliezer (Baal Shem Tov): Jewish mystic and healer.
  • Israel Finkelstein: Israeli archeologist.
  • Israel Folau: Australian professional rugby player.
  • Israel Guerrero: National Geographic Explorer.
  • Israel (Ira) Gershwin: American lyricist.
  • Israel Houghton: American Christian musician.
  • Israel Meir Kirzner: American economist.
  • Yisrael Meir Lau: Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv.

Israel in Popular Culture

Besides famous people with the name Israel, the name has been used in pop culture. Unlike most famous names, there aren’t many instances of Israel in pop culture. While there are few, these are some instances in pop culture where you’ll see the name Israel:

  • Ezra Ben Israel: Fictional character in the novel Peony.
  • Roman J. Israel: Fictional character in ‘Roman J. Israel.’

Israel FAQs

Below you’ll find other frequently asked questions regarding the name Israel that you may also be wondering about.

What Does the Name Israel Mean in the Bible?

There are several biblical interpretations of the meaning of the name, but the top one is “God contends.”

What Is the Female Version of the Name Israel?

The female version of the name Israel is Yisraela. The American spelling is Israela.

Does Israel Mean Something Different in Hebrew Than Arabic?

No. There might be different versions, but the name has the same general meaning in Hebrew and Arabic.

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