Take the evergreen Joseph, cross him with popular Noah and what do you get?

Why, the name of Sarah’s son, and our Baby Name of the Day: Josiah.

Besides Top Ten Noah, Josiah is also right at home with long-time chart-topper Joshua and other Biblical favorites like Isaiah and Elijah. If you track their usage, you can see all three gaining in recent decades. Your average playground sounds a little bit like a convention for Old Testament prophets.

Josiah actually came late to the party. He was fairly common in the nineteenth century, fell out of use, and returned to the rankings in 1975. In 2008 he entered the Top 100; by 2009, he ranked #79. In other words: not as unusual as new parents might hope, but still less likely to be shared than Josh or Luke – at least for now.

The original Josiah was King of Judah in the 600s BC, known for religious reforms during his long reign. The traditional meaning of his name is given as “God supports” or “supported by God.”

You can find notable bearers of the name in England around the time of Protestant Reformation, but Josiah probably caught parents’ attention more recently, thanks to fictional president Josiah Bartlet on long-running television drama The West Wing. Bartlet’s full name was Josiah Edward, and he answered to the nickname Jed. Played by veteran actor Martin Sheen, the character’s name was no accident. A real life Josiah Bartlett was among the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and later served as governor of New Hampshire, and Chief Justice of New Hampshire’s highest court.

Back in the 1700s, Josiah Wedgwood managed to industrialize the English pottery industry, serve as potter to the Queen, work towards the abolition of slavery, and start a family, too. His descendants include Charles Darwin, plus four more Josiah Wedgwoods, one of whom became the first Baron Wedgwood.

There’s also:

  • Nineteenth century Yale professor Josiah Gibbs, a key witness in the Amistad trial, and his son, physicist Josiah Gibbs;
  • Charles Dickens’ fictional Josiah Bounderby, successful in business but little else, from 1853’s Hard Times;
  • The Wild West’s Doc Scurlock, born Josiah Gordon Scurlock, one of Billy the Kid’s companions. Kiefer Sutherland played Doc in the Young Guns movies, dying in a shoot-out during the sequel. In real life, Scurlock lived to the age of 80.

And yes, one of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar’s nineteen J-named kids is Josiah.

It’s hard to imagine a name that is more on trend right now – he combines Biblical roots with an Americana energy and cowboy cred. He could be a brother for Jayden, Wyatt or Gideon.

If there’s any surprise, it is that Josiah isn’t more popular.

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. My sister gave me this name today. Its a beautiful name. I’m going to name my baby boy Josiah Ty’ron. My older son name is Manuel Zebulon… Perfect!

  2. I really love Josiah! It’s one of the few J boys names that I actually like. I like that it can he can be a Joe, but not the more run-of-the-mill Joseph. Thanks for doing this as a NotD.

  3. Thanks so much for covering Josiah’s name! Where I’m from (New Zealand), it’s pretty much unknown outside of church circles, and I often have people assuming I’ve made it up, kre8tive style. Interesting to know then that it’s ‘trendy’ in the U.S. I came to it through a long-time love of Joseph, but my married name starts with ‘Ph’ so I felt the JosePH PH____ ran together too much, but Josiah flows nicely. To me, Josiah has such a euphonious sound that I love. I always thought people would shorten it to Joe, but so far they’ve kept it full, although sometimes I call him Siah since that’s how he first pronounced it. Thanks again!

  4. I like the name Josiah, but it feels very popular to me since I’ve known Josiah’s of all ages my whole life.

    For trivia’s sake, I want to point out that Josiah Wedgewood was also very influential in the life of Ann Radclife, who wrote The Mysteries of Udolpho and The Romance of the Forest, the novels that inspired Jane Austen’s satire Northanger Abbey.

  5. This was my grandfather’s name. I really love it, but it’s actually getting more popular than I’m comfortable with.

    1. My brother is Josiah Michael. My mother chose it b/c she wanted a Biblical name to go with siblings (Rachel, Elizabeth, Nathaniel) and loved the sound and meaning of the name. His nicknames include Joe, Joey, Si, and Siah. People often read his name as Joshua (perhaps b/c Joshua is more well-known?). It is often mispronounced and ppl often comment on how unusual it is. Despite these draw-backs, my brother loves his name and enjoyed that it made him unique.

  6. This was one of my NOTD suggestions, but you didn’t put it on the list when I mentioned it. I just thought I’d mention that!

    1. Let me that that back: I looked back at the e-mail I had saved; at one point it came to my mind but I forgot to mention it there. Sorry!

      1. LOL – no problem, Kelly! I’ve yet to come up with a really good way to keep track of suggestions that I can’t take immediately!

  7. This falls under the Too Biblical category for me. No can do. Also, I have a personal association with the name.