Nathan Name Meaning

baby boy doing tummy time on blanket

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The name Nathan has ties to both Nathaniel and Jonathan, with all three names meaning something similar to “Gift of God” or “God has given.” In the Old Testament, Nathan was a prophet and one of King David’s sons; he acted as a messenger to King David and is considered one of Jesus’ ancestors.

  • Origin: Nathan is a Hebrew name meaning “gift of God” or “He gave.”
  • Gender: Nathan is traditionally used as a boy name.  
  • Pronunciation: NAY-thuhn 

Although many baby names are separated by gender, Verywell Family believes that sex does not need to play a role in your name selection process. It’s important to select a name that you feel suits your new baby the best.

How Popular Is the Name Nathan?

Nathan is popular in Europe, often ranking in the top 100 boys' names in countries like France and Belgium, but it’s also quite popular here in the U.S., too. It has remained in the top 100 boys' names since 1972, per the Social Security Administration’s rankings. In fact, the name hit No. 45 in 1975, and it never dipped below No. 50 again until just two years ago, in 2019.

Although it's unclear why the name Nathan became so popular in the '70s, it is interesting to note that the annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, hosted by Coney Island institution Nathan’s Famous, had its inaugural contest in 1972 to much fanfare and publicity. It’s possible that event had something to do with putting Nathan on the radar—and it has stayed popular ever since, thanks to its immense likability.

Name Variations 

While Nathan actually remains the same across a variety of languages, there are a few variations including:

  • Natan (Hebrew)
  • Nathanael (French)
  • Nathaniel (Greek or Hebrew)
  • Neizan (Spanish)
  • Nosson (Yiddish)

Similar Names 

Other Hebrew boy names include:

  • Aaron
  • Adam
  • Benjamin
  • David
  • Elijah
  • Isaac
  • Jacob
  • Joshua
  • Levi
  • Noah
  • Simon

Other boy names with two syllables include:

  • Brandon
  • Caleb
  • Ethan
  • Jackson
  • Logan
  • Michael
  • Phillip
  • Robert
  • Thomas
  • Warren

Common Nicknames

Because Nathan is already a fairly easy-to-say name, it doesn’t lend itself to many nicknames. But if you choose the name Nathan, you can call your child Nat or Nate for short.

Suggested Sibling Names

Looking for a sibling name for Nathan? Here are some popular options:

  • Abigail
  • Charlotte
  • Cillian
  • Gabriel
  • Lucas
  • Molly
  • Nora
  • Oliver
  • Owen
  • Rebecca
  • Sarah
  • Sawyer

Famous People Named Nathan

Nathan is a name that never goes out of style or dates itself, so it’s no surprise that Nathans have popped up throughout history in many fields. From popular actor, Nathan Fillion, to Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs, the name can be found just about everywhere. Famous Nathans include:

  • Nathan (Nate) Berkus, American interior designer
  • Nathan Fielder, writer and comedian
  • Nathan Hale, American soldier, and spy during the Revolutionary War
  • Nathan Handwerker, founder of Nathan’s Famous
  • Nathan Kress, Nickelodeon actor
  • Nathan Lane, an actor known for the Broadway musical “The Producers”
  • Nathan Fillion, actor known for TV shows such as “Castle” and “The Rookie”

Fictional Nathans:

  • Prince Nathan, son of the title character in the comic strip “Prince Valiant”
  • Nathan Detroit, the lead character in Broadway musical “Guys and Dolls”
  • Nathan Drake, main character in the “Uncharted” video game series
  • Nathan Petrelli, ensemble character in NBC TV show “Heroes”

More Baby Names

Still searching for the perfect baby name? Check out these related baby name lists for even more options: 

2 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Social Security Administration. Popularity of Name.

  2. Nathan's Famous, Inc. About Us.

By Sarah Bradley
Sarah Bradley has been writing parenting content since 2017, after her third son was born. Since then, she has expanded her expertise to write about pregnancy and postpartum, childhood ages and stages, and general health conditions, including commerce articles for health products. Because she has been homeschooling her sons for seven years, she is also frequently asked to share homeschooling tips, tricks, and advice for parenting sites.