He’s a prophet and a baker, too. But would he work for a boy born in ’09?

Thanks to Lola for suggesting Amos as Name of the Day.

Back in the Old Testament, Amos was a prophet. We don’t know much about his life. He was probably born in the Bethlehem ‘burbs. Before he took up prophecy work, Amos tended sheep. Or possibly trees. Or both.

In any case, he’s a legitimate Biblical boy. The name comes from the Hebrew amas – to carry. You’ll also see the name’s meaning given as burdened – Amos’ prophecies were rather bleak, and presumably he was toting quite a lot on shoulders.

Maybe that’s why those serious Puritans latched on to Amos. His heyday was probably in the 1700s. He remained reasonably common right through the nineteenth century. Early American history is riddled with many a famous Amos, including:

  • Postmaster General and key advisor to President Andrew Jackson, Amos Kendall;
  • Louisa May’s father, Amos Bronson Alcott, a teacher, reformer and writer in his own right;
  • Early football player and coach, Amos Alonzo Stagg.

But some of the most notable bearers of the name have worn it in the last spot, like singer Tori Amos and cookie maven Wally Amos.

Wally Amos’ cookie career started young, but he left behind a childhood passion for pastries to become a talent agent with the William Morris Agency. Instead of selling his cookies, he sent them – to famous clients like Diana Ross and the Supremes. In the 1970s, he finally opened a cookie company bearing the name Famous Amos. The cookies – and the man himself – appeared in a 1981 episode of televison favorite Taxi, transforming Famous Amos to instant household name. While he no longer owns the brand, he’s still baking.

20th centuries bearers of the first name are harder to come by. There’s Tom Hanks’ father, Amos Hanks. JK Rowling used the name for Cedric Diggory’s dad in the Harry Potter franchise.

Odds are that Amos has fallen on hard times thanks to long-running comedy Amos’n’Andy, a radio show that leapt to the big and small screens despite ongoing criticism of the African-American stereotypes it portrayed. NAACP protests led to the demise of the television series in the 1960s. Perhaps some of that controversy still taints the name today.

There’s also Amos’ anatomical unfortunate sound-alike. It could make for some rough teenage years.

But Amos also bears a resemblance to amicus – the Latin for friend. It inspired the medieval feminine name Amice and masculine variants like Amis. An old French legend told of the friendship between Amis et Amile.

With the return of virtue names for girls – and the relatively small pool of them for boys – could Amos be a brother for Felix?

There’s also a place-name case for Amos. An ancient city in Turkey was called Amos, as well as modern-day towns in California and Quebec.

Since he last ranked in 1997, odds are that you won’t meet another – that might be enough to tempt some parents to rediscover Amos.

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. With Amish farmer Amos Miller being in the news lately over his fight to sell raw milk, this may be a name to watch for in 2024.

  2. My three-year-old is named Amos. We call him “Ame” for short and love the name. No one (within earshot, anyway) makes the anatomical reference but we know its likely to happen at some point. Despite that, we LOVE the name and are so happy to have a son that bears it.