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Nathaniel Name Meaning: Origin, Popularity & Nicknames

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

Nathaniel Overview

  • Meaning: The name Nathaniel translates as “given by God.”
  • Gender: Nathaniel is primarily a male name.
  • Origin: Hebrew origin and first appeared in the Hebrew Bible.
  • Pronunciation: “Nath-aniel” or “nuh-then-yell.”
  • Popularity: Nathaniel is somewhat popular in the United States and ranked as the 133rd most popular choice for boys in 2021.
  • Nicknames: Nat, Nate, Nate-the-Great, Nath, Natty, Tan, Tanny, Tate, Tatty.
  • Variations: Natan, Nataniel, Nathan, Nathanael, Netanel.
  • Namesakes: Nathaniel Hawthorne (American novelist) and Nathaniel “Nat” Wolff (American actor).

What Does Nathaniel Mean?

The name Nathaniel is an English variation of Nathanael. That, in turn, was a Greek adaptation of the Hebrew Netan’el. It means “given by God.” In Hebrew, “Natan” means “to give” and “el” is a term for God.

What Is the Origin of the Name Nathaniel?

The origin of Nathaniel can be traced back to the Hebrew Bible, in which several figures share the name. That includes the brother of King David and means that the name is thousands of years old.

In Christianity, Nathanael is a disciple of Jesus Christ and gets a mention in the Gospel of John in the New Testament (1). However, it is also possible that it is another name for Saint Bartholomew.

Nathaniel emerged as a common name in England in the 17th Century. Settlers from Britain brought it to the United States during the colonial period.

How Popular Is the Name Nathaniel?

Nathaniel has been a historically popular choice in the United States but has been out of the top 100 list for baby names for several years. However, Nathaniel held on /to the 133rd spot for newborn boys in 2021 (2).

Nathaniel hit the peak of its popularity in 1998 when it ranked 60th, though it has been around in the US since colonial times.

How Do I Pronounce Nathaniel?

Nathaniel is typically pronounced like it is spelled. It can be said as “Nath-an-yell” or “nuh-then-yell.”

You will sometimes hear people emphasize the “t,” so it will sound like “Nah-tan-iel.” That is less common and usually associated with a variant spelling.

Is Nathaniel a Boy or Girl Name?

Nathaniel is a name traditionally given to a boy. Nevertheless, any name is unisex if you want it to be. The most common feminine version of Nathaniel is Natalie. Natalia and Natasha are both acceptable female substitutes for Nathaniel or Nathan.

Natalie, the feminine version of Nathaniel, is actually more popular as a name than Nathaniel. It has ranked in the top 60 most popular names for the last ten years.

Variations of Nathaniel

As a biblical boy’s name, Nathaniel has acquired numerous variations in countries where Abrahamic religions are practiced. Few are as common as Nathaniel in the United States, but you might be familiar with:

  • Natan (Hebrew)
  • Nataniel (Slavic)
  • Nathan (English)
  • Nathanael (Hebrew)
  • Netanel (Hebrew)

Nicknames for Nathaniel

There are several nicknames you can use for someone named Nathaniel. A few are used as given names, whereas others are pure and simple terms of endearment, such as:

  • Nat
  • Nate
  • Nate-the-Great
  • Nath
  • Natty
  • Tan
  • Tanny
  • Tate
  • Tatty

Similar Names to Nathaniel

Many people who look for an alternative to Nathaniel often draw inspiration from biblical names or pick something evocative of the “Old World” and the American colonial period. For instance, you could consider:

Middle Names for Nathaniel

Nathaniel is a classic name, so you could choose something that has a similar origin or give it a twist with something more modern, such as:

Sibling Names for Nathaniel

If you’re looking for a first name that goes well with Nathaniel, you have plenty of options available. If you want a “matching set,” any biblical or early American name will fit well with Nathaniel:

For a brother:

For a sister:

Famous People Named Nathaniel

As a name that has been around for centuries, it is no surprise that there have been some famous Nathaniels throughout history (3). Some of the most significant bearers of the name include:

  • Nathaniel Ayers: American musician and the subject of the 2009 film “The Soloist.’”
  • Nathaniel Buzolic: Australian actor.
  • Nathaniel Chalobah: English soccer player.
  • Nathaniel “Nat” King Cole: world-famous American singer and musician.
  • Nathaniel Everett Green: English painter.
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne: Noted American novelist author of “The Scarlet Letter.”
  • Nathaniel “Nate” Motte: American musician.
  • Nathaniel Parker: English actor.
  • Nathaniel “Nat” Wolff: American actor.

Nathaniel in Popular Culture

Nathaniel can be found across mass media, mirroring its enduring popularity as a boy’s name. It has appeared in literature, animated films, comics, and numerous television shows, including:

  • Nathaniel Fitzwilliam “Nate” Archibald: From the television series “Gossip Girl.”
  • Nathaniel “Natty” Bumppo: Main character in James Fenimore Cooper’s novel “The Last of The Mohicans.”
  • Nathaniel Essex: A supervillain from the “X-Men” comics better known as Mister Sinister.
  • Captain Nathaniel Flint: Character from Disney’s animated feature film “Treasure Planet.”
  • Nathaniel Fisher Jr. and Nathaniel Sr: Characters from the television show “Six Feet Under.”
  • Nathaniel Plimpton III: Character on the television show “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.”
  • Nathaniel Taggart: Character in Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged.”

Nathaniel FAQs

If you want to know more about the name Nathaniel, then here are the answers to the most commonly asked questions about the moniker.

Is Nathaniel a Last Name?

Nathaniel is in fact used as a family name throughout Europe. Despite its Hebrew origin, the surname can be found in many cultures across the continent.

Is Nathaniel a Traditional Name?

Nathan is a biblical name that also has a prominent association with the American colonial period. That gives it a distinctively classic quality. However, that doesn’t mean it is old-fashioned.

It has a timeless elegance that pairs well with numerous other names. What’s more, it can be shortened to Nate or Nathan, giving parent and child lots of versatility.

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