Asher feels like its headed for the US Top 20, a Biblical boy name that everybody loves.
Thanks to Photoquilty for suggesting our Baby Name of the Day.
ALL THOSE ASH NAMES
Former Top 100 pick Ashton and #1 girl favorite Ashley share a syllable and an origin. They’re Old English place names-turned-surnames.
But Asher goes back to the Old Testament.
He’s one of Jacob’s dozen sons, and founder of one of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. The name has a long history of use among Jewish families.
It comes from the Hebrew word osier – happiness.
His tribe settled on fertile, prosperous land, suggesting that his name shaped his destiny.
Some suggest the name comes from Assyrian legend, or possibly an ancient Semitic goddess. But the Old Testament reference clearly inspired parents.
It wasn’t used widely outside of Jewish families until the Protestant Reformation, when parents went flipping through the Bible for fresh inspiration.
Notable men have worn the name in the US since early days.
Asher Levy settled in New Amsterdam, by way of Brazil, with two dozen other Jewish settlers in 1654.
A nineteenth century architect; a member of the Hudson River School of painters; and a Rhode Island senator also make the list.
But it’s far from James or even George, a name that’s in use – but far from familiar.
There’s an uptick in the number of boys receiving the name beginning in the 1970s.
One reason? Chaim Potok’s 1972 novel My Name is Asher Lev, about the struggles of an artistic boy born into a Hassidic Jewish family in 1940s Brooklyn. Potok himself is said to have identified strongly with the character, and the author was a well-established figure by then.
It’s the middle name of actor Judd Nelson, as well as playwright Arthur Miller. (Though both were born well before Potok’s novel.)
We often see shared-sound names rise. Emmett follows Emma; Ella and Elliot belong in the same preschool class, two tables over from Olivia and Oliver.
And so when Ashley cracked the girls’ Top 100 in 1978, it probably encouraged parents to consider Ash- names for boys. By 1991, over 100 boys were named Asher in the US for the first time ever.
That’s still relatively rare, though.
It took another novel to put this name on the path to the Top 100: Lois Lowry’s The Giver.
Published in 1993, it tells of a dystopian world, where memory and individuality are nearly erased.
The main character is called Jonas, but his closest friends are Fiona and Asher.
It’s been widely read ever since. And since it’s a young adult novel, no surprise that some of those readers grew up to consider the name for their sons.
Adaptations have ranged from a stage play to an opera to a 2014 movie. Cameron Monaghan played Asher on the big screen.
BY THE NUMBERS
A great meaning and a few pop culture references can propel many names out of obscurity. But the combination of the familiar first syllable Ash with an R ending came at exactly the right moment. From Connor to Carter, Hunter to Xavier, it’s a sound that feels just slightly different after decades of Aiden and Ethan and Dylan.
Plus, we’re still wild for Biblical boy names. Just ask the parents of Ezra and Isaiah, Isaac and Elijah.
So no surprise this name continues to rise. It entered the US Top 100 in 2014, and reached a new peak of #47 in 2018. For now, it shows no signs of showing down.
Do you think Asher will reach the US Top Ten?
Originally published on August 27, 2009. It was substantially revised and re-posted on September 1, 2014 and again on February 26, 2020.
I named my newborn son Asher but now I am having the *hardest* time coming up with a cute nickname that is not “Ash”. We are not too fond of Ash. We are open to suggestions for possible nickname alternatives! Any help would be much appreciated!!
I was thinking maybe Ace or Oshie? too much of a stretch?
Hi Abby. Is it possible to restore the comments on this post? It says there are 19 but none are appearing. Thanks!
Never mind. As soon as I posted, all of the comments appeared. Thanks! I’ve been thinking about Asher but not too sure with the growing popularity.
This was one of the most popular names on my blog last year – it got an approval rating of 83%. The movie will probably give it more of a boost.
Just to confirm, yes this name is given to almost as many girls as boys in Australia. Will be interesting to see if the ratio changes over time …
I love this name as well. I’m glad to see so much positive feedback about it. I’m expecting a boy at the end of August and plan to name him Asher; I’ve only told a few random people (not family or friends) and have gotten nothing but praise for the name. “It’s so modern”, “It sounds so European” and “So cool! Very unique”. I’ve never really heard of the name all that much before I started hunting for the right baby name. I don’t really connect it to the Biblical reference personally but I do like the historical nature of the name and Hebrew meaning. Name meaning was important – almost as important as the name itself – so I’m glad to have found something cool and modern (and European, apparently!) that also has a very positive meaning.
I think your description is missing here?
I know it had a long history before, but this name makes me think of Lois Lowry’s The Giver. Asher was the lead character Jonas’ best friend, and I love how Lowry plays on the names’ meanings by giving Asher, meaning cheerful, the future job of director of recreation. I would use the name, but I have Jonas already and I don’t want to make it a theme. 🙂 I’ve always had a thing for traditionally Jewish names, though.
We love the name Asher and will be calling our soon to be born baby boy ASHER LIAM.
We have LACHLAN JESSE also, and love the idea of two little boys named Lachlan and Asher. My husband and I love the strong, traditional but cool, and masculine feel of Asher. It is also a little more unique than other names, and we think much nicer than Ashley or Ashton. Ashley sounds a little feminine and doesn’t do much for us, Ashton does not even rate for us. I think of Ashton’s Circus when I think of that name. : )
Congrats to you and yours! Asher Liam is a great name, and I love Lachlan Jesse.
We have a Lachlan Craig and an Asher Borum! Great minds think a like 🙂
I named my baby son Asher Alexander in September last year. We really wanted a boys name that wasn’t in the top 100 but was still a solid, “real” name.
I love that it means “happy” & “fortunate”. He’s a very happy little chappy, and we feel very fortunate to have him after six years of trying. I love the “Ash” sound, but Ashley, Sasha, etc etc all sound too feminine for me. I love that it sounds so modern & cool, but is actually a very old name. My husband liked it because, teamed with our surname he says it sounds like a star football player. My Asher is a star!
I completely agree with Sebastiane & I get what Bewildertrix means exactly, being South African.Some parts of the accents are confused at times, so name pronunciation is similar to the Australians & New Zealanders at SOME times.
I really like this name.It’s Biblical without being over the top or preachy. It feels current without being trendy or pretentious. I much prefer it to names like Brody which aren’t trendy, but have an air of trendiness about them
I mentioned this name yesterday, and someone said that even though they know it’s a Biblical name, it’s utterly modern to them.
I have it as Asher West or Asher Nathaniel
Ashley is still kicking on boys here in NZ and more so in England. I don’t think it will ever be truly lost. One can hope. I love the name and would consider it.
Unfortunately, with our accents both Asha and Asher sound identical which would explain the few Ashers I’ve seen recently in BAs for Aussie girls. Putting non-rhotacism aside, it still pays to the get the spelling right 😉
That’s right – just like Taylah! ‘Round here, Taylah is just a spin on Kayla. I heard a mom calling Jaylie ydy … ah, the Name Blob.
I like Asher for a boy as I agree that Ashley- though originally a boys name- just yells girl to me. I think its masculine and of course you can shorten it even more to Ash if one wished. I thinks its one of those names which will grow in popularity and we will soon see loads of little Ashers running around!
I love the name Asher, it has a strong, cool vibe, a pleasant meaning and the possible nickname option of Ash. It does seem to be rising. I have seen quite a few in the Birth Announcements, especially in places like South Dakota and North Dakota.
I really, really like Asher. I’m only surprised that it’s not more popular than it is. To me the “er” ending is all boy. I can’t think of any girls’ names besides Amber that end in that suffix.
For many years, there was a local restaurant called Skeeter’s (yes, we are all hicks here) that was known for two things: they were open 24 hrs, and a menu item consisting of eggs atop a bed of hash browns and cheddar cheese called “the Asher special.” I believe it was named for their son, Asher, who would have to be well into his thirties now.
Heather or Jennifer come to mind. But yes, I think of -er as more of a masculine ending.
I’ve know two boys born in the last 6 weeks with Asher in the name. One has it as a first name and one has it as a middle. Both were born to Jewish families, though I don’t think either set of parents were looking for a Jewish name, per se. Also, neither familiy knows the other, so I thought it was a sure sign of Asher’s rising popularity. I think the name is all right; I don’t dislike it or anything – but I wouldn’t use it.
Thanks for exploring the history! Growing up in NY, I had heard of Asher Levy; there’s an Asher Levy Pl. in the city (although I think it’s spelled Asser), but hadn’t heard the name used on anyone else until these two babies were born.
Asser is a valid variant, Photoquilty. But I cannot fathom a modern English-speaking parent using that spelling, so … Asher it is!
Yeah, I’m aware of the issues there. 😉
I like Asher, even though it seems a bit on the popular side… I know a cute 4-year-old Asher (his baby sister was just named Arden). It sounds so soft and slightly feminine to me – maybe because the the name always makes me think of the girl name Asha (Sanskrit= hope) and then, by association the Cornershop song Brimful of Asha. Perhaps it’s because I heard the name Asha before I ever heard the name Asher in use? In any case, not a bad association, if it is a bit random. I actually quite like Asha as a name too, and prefer it to Ashley on a girl.
JNE – I love that song, Brimful of Asha — I don’t know many people who have heard of it!
As for the name Asher — it’s only all right. Reminds me of the song from Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat where the narrator sings out the names of each of his brothers. (I know, the Biblical connection — unfortunatly, my first instinct is toward the musical connection!) 🙂
I guess I’m glad it’s being used, but I would never use it on a son.