He’s twin brother to Naomi, used internationally but seldom heard in the US, despite the raging success of the very similar Noah.
Thanks to Shan for suggesting Noam as our Baby Name of the Day.
I have a theory about why Noam hasn’t taken off, a theory better illustrated than described – just glance up at the little fellow in the corner, the red-capped garden dweller, the happy fellow found in countless German fairy tales.
Except that the name Noam isn’t pronounced gnome, and has nothing to go with ornamental statuary with a high kitsch value.
Instead, Noam comes from a Hebrew word for pleasant. Much like Noah is a two-syllable name, Noam is properly pronounced NOE ahm.
The most famous figure is Noam Chomsky, prolific author, long-time professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an acclaimed linguist and philosopher. Noam is actually his middle name – his given name is Avram.
A handful of other Noams surface, like actor/director Noam Pitlik who snagged an Emmy for his work behind the camera on 70s sitcom Barney Miller. Pretty much all of them are Israeli, or at least of Jewish descent. Perhaps he hasn’t always been wildly common, but in recent years, he’s ranked in the Israeli Top Ten.
Or should I say she’s ranked in the Israeli Top Ten? Among Israeli parents, a group far more tolerant of truly unisex names, Noam works for daughters, too. Writer Noam Friedlander is, indeed, a she.
Still, Noam strikes me more like Evan than Avery – not unreasonable for a daughter, but if you see it in a birth announcement, you assume the happy couple has welcomed a son. In France, Noam is solidly for Team Blue, and he’s in the Top 100 and climbing.
Noam has never cracked the US Top 1000, but he fits right in:
- Biblical powerhouse Noah is at his most popular ever, ranking #7 last year. He’s been in the Top 100 and gaining since 1995;
- Liam ranked #30, proof that ends-in-m names have their place in 2011;
- Nolan rose to #104, another upbeat Irish appellation, and further proof of the appeal of o.
While we’re looking at the rankings, Naomi is also at her most popular ever, reaching #96 in 2010 – her first appearance in the US girls’ Top 100. Noel and Noelle, as well as Noe and Nola are other no- names attracting attention in recent years.
Overall, Noam is the kind of choice that ought to appeal – different, but familiar. Upbeat and unusual. He’s a handsome pick for a family determined to stick close to conventional choices, and yet still choose something completely surprising.