Ezra: Baby Name of the Day

Ezra: Baby Name of the Day

Old Testament Ezra feels exactly right in the twenty-first century.

Thanks to Bo for suggesting today’s Baby Name of the Day.

Ezra: Good

Turn on the radio in the spring of 1995 and you couldn’t avoid hearing this song:

Lookin’ around the house
Hidden behind the window and the door
Searchin’ for signs of life
But there’s nobody home

The song was called Good, and the artists were a previously little-known group formed back at Louisiana State University. The band is known as Better Than Ezra, and their success helped to quietly push the name back into the spotlight.

From 1994 to 1996, the name jumped nearly 150 places in the US rankings, and it’s yet to slow down.

As for where the band found the name? They’ve never said. But there’s no shortage of possibilities.

Ezra: Old Testament

The name appears in the Old Testament, sometimes as Esdras. He’s a poet and a scribe, a teacher and interpreter of Jewish law.

The name’s Biblical status explains why it’s remained in use over the ages.

An early president of Yale University wore the name, as did the founder of Cornell University.

It’s the first name of Fitch in Abercrombie & Fitch, too. Before the store peddled goods in shopping malls, it outfitted gentlemen outdoorsmen and adventurers.

But this name doesn’t seem scholarly or rugged as much as it leans literary. That’s thanks to two other figures.

Ezra: Keats and Pound

Born in the wilds of Idaho when it was still just a territory, poet Ezra Pound spent much of his adult life in Europe. His poetry endures, though his political views – he supported Italy’s fascist regime during World War II – ensure that he’s forever controversial.

On a happier note, there’s the classic children’s bookΒ The Snowy Day. Celebrated author Ezra Jack Keats wrote and illustrated the enduring favorite. It’s even inspired US postage stamps.

A literary pedigree and an unusual sound – the razor-sharp z-r, the -a ending – put Ezra on the quirky classics list for years.

Ezra: Rising Favorite

But as those children of the 90s started families of their own, Ezra continued to climb.

There’s well-known journalist Klein, one of the founders of the new site Vox.

And actor Miller has become a household name, thanks to turns in the Fantastic Beasts franchise and his role as The Flash in the DC Comics universe, with his own stand-alone movie expected in 2020.

Other factors pushed this name higher, too. We’re all about a-ending boy names, with Noah a recent #1 choice, and other names like Luca and Isaiah very much in favor. That high-value Scrabble letter Z helps, too.

But there’s one other factor to consider.

Ezra: Bridger

Disney’s animated series Star Wars Rebels takes place before A New Hope – the first Star Wars movie ever made – but after Revenge of the Sith. He’s Force-sensitive – that is, a potential Jedi – but he grows up an orphan, until he joins us with a band of rebels as the Empire tightens its hold. Bridger proves himself a capable leader, though he struggles to use his power for good.

He’s a popular character, and the series has been a success. It first aired in 2014.

This has surely boosted the name even higher.

Ezra: How High?

The only question remaining is how high will this name climb? It cracked the Top 200 in 2012, entered the Top 100 by 2015, and is now more popular than ever before, with no signs of slowing down.

What do you think of Ezra? Would you consider this name for a son?

Originally published on June 1, 2008, this post was revised substantially and re-posted on November 29, 2011, and again on December 26, 2018.

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59 Comments

My great grandpa was named Ezra and I have always wanted to name a son that name. I can’t believe that the girls are attempting to steal this name too!

We decided to name our soon to be born son Ezra James. I loved the name, my husband had a hard time getting over the association of it with his favorite band πŸ˜‰ but he eventually did! I also like it because my husband has another Old Testament name, Micah. so Ezra fits right in, and his siblings Rory and Sydney can’t wait to meet him πŸ™‚

I have a newborn son, whom we named Ezra Joseph. I have had one or two comments about his name being a poor choice, that he will be picked on, or people thinking he is a girl. I talked to a friend of my husbands from India who said Ezra is a popular girls name there, but obviously it stems from Ezra, the man, in the bible. I think it’s an amazing, strong and unique name and I’m proud we gave it to our son. We have another son named Isaac Taylor. πŸ™‚

I absolutely love my sons name! he was born may 3 2011! Ezra to me is a boys name and it fits my son well! sooooooo in love with the name and he is my first boy yay

My daughter’s name is Ezra who is 4 and since she was born and still to this day I receive sooooo many compliments about her name. I belive the name can go both ways. πŸ™‚

Hi, Val!

I, too, have a daughter named Ezra. I am an English major, and will soon be teaching Secondary School English – and I happen to have an unbreakable love for Ezra Pound. Aside from this connection to the name, I have Jewish ancestors and this was a way that I could honor them. Who cares if it has predominately been a “strong male” name? It was 2017 when I chose the name for my daughter. I get endless compliments. It suits her to her core. And the man that I am going to marry (whom I met two years after her birth) has an ancestral surname of “Ezra”. Are people going to now say the surname Ezra is inappropriate for females? Give me a break. It’s the 21st century, folks. If you can’t say something nice, get bent.

I have a baby boy due in one week and have been in love with the name Ezra since day one of pregnancy.
The only aggrivating thing is the popularity rising because of the show, Pretty Little Liars.
My heart almost broke when I mentioned the name to someone and they replied, “Like the show!” UGH. But I think I’m going to stick it out. I have considered Emerson instead, but love Ezra.

The reason why folks thinks Ezra is a girl’s name is because it sounds like a girl’s name. More and more girls are being named Ezra. I don’t understand why so many folks so vehemently and outspokenly seem to abhor Ezra as a girl’s name and then name their little girls things like Taylor, or Kelly, or Shawn.

I LOVE Ezra as a girl’s name!!!

Ezra’s 3 1/2 now, and I love his name even more today. Don’t tell my other kids, but his is the name I’m most content with.

The blogger Amalah has an Ezra and during his pregnancy she wrote a pregnancy calendar for Alphamom. Since both of the Ezras I know IRL where born shortly after Amalah’s, I’ve always wondered if their names were influenced by her column.

Ezra Jack Keats is one of my favorite picture books authors, he would make a wonderful namesake.

That’s a blog name that fascinates me! I discovered her when she started writing for Babble, but I just realized that’s she’s another Amy! She’s definitely popular enough to have encouraged a few people to consider Ezra … Now if Ike catches on, after the third son? We’ll know she’s a trendsetter!

I believe I’ve shared this story before, but I’ll do so again.

About a year ago my sister and I were at a cafe that caters to families with young children. We heard a mother calling her young son “Ezra!”, and my sister turned and asked me, the name nerd, whether Ezra was a popular name at present. I responded that, while not necessarily popular, it’s definitely on trend for boys, being both a name that begins with a vowel and an Old Testament name to boot. Later during the same day we headed over to a mall to do some shopping and once again came across a mother calling her young child “Ezra!”. The difference was that this time the kid in question was girl. I grinned at Emily and said something to the effect that I guess it’s on trend for both girls and boys.

I don’t personally know anyone with child, son or daughter, named Ezra, but I do have two friends with young kids named Azariah, one boy, one girl.

I understand that some parents, combing the Old Testament for names, might lament that there are far fewer girls’ names to be found than boys’, but when you look at names as a whole, there are so many more available girls’ names than boys’, it’s a shame that some of these strong-yet-lyrical boys’ names are going to the girls.

I absolutely love the name Ezra. However, this past summer my aunt had twin boys and named one Ezra, so the name is now off limits for me. Thankfully I’m a writer, so instead of mourning the loss of the name, I used it for my main characters’ son. πŸ™‚

I see this name as firmly masculine, but several people my age (teens) seem to think it’s a girl’s name. I actually had an argument with a friend after my cousins were born over whether or not it was a boy’s name. Personally I think it’s just lack of knowledge that makes people think this. The popular mindset seems to be that any name ending in a vowel sound is a girl’s name, something I’d really like to see change.

Good point, Emily!
Though we only know one little Ezra, we do know two little girls, born about a week apart last year, both named Ezri. πŸ™ maybe that’s where the confusion comes from…?

I like Ezra, too. But would you put him in the same family as Boaz? He’s on our list, currently, as a possibility, but not running as strong as Israel at the moment (a name you haven’t gotten to yet, I notice – hint! hint!)
BTW, I think Esdras was actually not the same guy. Ezra’s book is in the Bible, but then there are the books of First and Second Esdras in the apocrypha – if I remember correctly, they are books of wisdom, like Proverbs, not historic ones like Ezra. Could be mistaken, though. I don’t have an apocrypha near at hand … Thanks for helping us take another look at a great name! We only know one cute little blonde about 4 with this moniker so far. πŸ™‚

I actually knew an Esdras. I grew up around a large Haitian community, and he was from Haiti…he had a beautiful name- Esdras d’Haiti. We went to high school together and were good friends, but he died tragically during wrestling practice, which I saw. I would love to use Esdras, but every time I see the name, I reenact my friend’s death in my head. :'(

I love Ezra, but then there are very few biblical names I don’t like πŸ™‚ I have a thing for E names and I think Ezra and Enoch would make a beautiful sibset. However I doubt I could use a name that jumped 100 spots in only 3 years, yikes!

I really don’t get how people think that Ezra is feminine, but I guess there is far less biblical knowledge than there used to be.

Ezra’s great. I worked for Cornell U, so Ezra’s definitely male in my book. There’s a little Ezra in the girls’ preschool class, and 2 Lucases in their preschool.

My son is due in late Jan. and I am having a hard time picking out a name. So far I like Eli, and Camden. But after reading this I really like the sound of Ezra, it’s very different and I like it. My husband likes biblical names, but for some reason he doesn’t like Ezra. Sometimes I wish I could just name this child, why does he have to have a say πŸ˜‰

Where do you live? I live in NY, and know a boy named Camden, and all I can think of is Camden, NJ. I suppose if I lived a little further south it would be Camden Yards. I think it’s a better name for people who live off the East Coast.

Funny, I bumped into an old high school classmate at a friend’s baby shower and she had a little 4 year old girl named Ezra. I was mortified but managed to cover it up and mentioned that Ezra Pound was one of my favorite poets, and commented on “how unique it was to give the name to a girl!”. She gave me a weird look and said that how she picked it out was- when she was pregnant with her Ezra, she came across a sweater in the female section at A&F and inside, it said “Ezra Fitch”. She assumed it was a girl’s name and took it from there. After further conversation, apparently she has never researched her daughter’s name once and had no idea it was a male name. How some people can do that, I don’t know.

I know a few people who gave little to no thought to doing name research, barely even picking up name books, let alone doing any online research. For every name nerd, there’s a name…bimbo?

Ezra is on our very short list for a boy. We went to LSU and love the subtle references Better than Ezra makes to our alma mater in their lyrics:-) To me Ezra is one of those ‘diamond in the rough’ names. I’d heard it my whole life without ever considering it, and then one day I saw it in your archive and it hit me like a ton a bricks; all shiny and new. I love it’s quirky sound and biblical reference, and it sounds great with our last name. My only reservation is how quickly its rising up the charts.

I love soft names way more than hard names for boys. Give me Ezra and Noah over Colton and Hunter anyday. I first heard of Ezra on a TV show called Higher Ground. It didnt really strike me as feminine if I think about, since I didn’t bat an eyelid.

I think -ah names are on trend, but I’m not sure if it’s at its most popular. Ira and Alva from the 1800s come to mind, Dana, Elisha, Ezra and Asa have been used for a long time too. Joshua is definitely the most popular ever, with probably Dakota right behind.
There are others also, but with lesser usage, such as state names Indiana and Montana, Shia and Shaya, even Kaia I’ve seen on a boy. Nikita, Nikola and Nicola are actually more used on boys in the US than girls, that surprised me.Then there’s the exotic names, Krishna, Kekoa, Kainoa, Indra, Akira, Mustafa, Hamza, Sasha, Misha, Mattia, etc.. And of course nouveau inventions (I think) like Koa, Koda, etc….

Oops how did I leave out Luca/Luka? Those are definitely reaching for the stars, although I do think as long as Lucas/Lukas is around, they’ll always be the bridesmaids.

I would say that because I do not have a religious background, the first time I heard Ezra I too thought it was a girls name because of the -A- ending something akin to Eliza or the butchered Ezme (Esme) and Eliz (Elise) . I see how it is on trend, and has significance for many people, but I think the soft ending throws me off and the strong religious undertones.. I probably wouldn’t use it. Funny that hard -o- endings dont throw me off for girls though… like Margot and Cleo.. love both of them

Getting really fed up with my phone. I posted a comment using my new phone, but it didn’t show up. That’s just the 3rd or 4th time this has happened.

Anyway, I said something along the lines of, “Two and a half years later, and my opinion hasn’t changed. I still find it way too Jewish. I don’t hate biblical names, but the ones with religious overtones like Ezra, Caleb, Abel, etc., don’t end up on my list.”

I first came across Ezra when learning about Ezra Pound in American English class in highschool…I loved the name the first time I heard it because of everything you’ve mentioned…the unusual -a ending for boys paired with the spunky Z is adorable. Ezra would fit right in a small country town or in a chic metropolis.

I think Ezra is getting ready to jump up a few places due to Ezra Fitz the name of a character in the pretty little liars book and television series. Along with Aria and Spencer on a girl.

I agree. It will definitely jump due to the hunky Ezra Fitz. It enlightened a lot of people that this really is a boy name! I’m a huge fan of the name Ezra.

I was one of those who thought Ezra was a girl’s name years ago. Mind you, I was probably 12 or 13 at the time, but still. I think it would work fine on a girl, even as I know Evans, Michaels and Noahs that are women.

But it does work best as a boy’s name, to me. Unlike Ira. I want Ira firmly on the girl side and no one seems to agree.

Whether we think of a name as male or female or both has a lot to do with if we know anyone with that name, in my humble opinion. I have a wonderful male, Jewish colleague in his 60s named Ira so there is no way I could ever picture Ira on a girl.

But with no frame of reference for a name, we only have our own intiution and cultural sound conventions to go on.

I can’t imagine that someone would actually name their daughter Ezra lol. Its not a bad name – for a BOY. Its way too harsh sounding for a girl + it has so much history as a hebrew male name. There are so many pretty girl names out there. Why use ezra? Might as well just name your daughter Noah or Harry lol.

Your post actually reminded me of something. Once I was in a park and there was a little boy named Kelly. An older irish man who was there with me at the time said “wow so refreshing to see Kelly on a boy. If you name a girl Kelly you might as well name her Patrick”. Pretty much what you said here haha but with other names.

I have a son named Ezra, born in 2001. I knew the name was somewhat unusual, but I have been taken aback by how many people say they have never heard the name – people who go to church regularly!! The only people we have run into who have thought it was a girl’s name are from India. I understand there is an Indian girl’s name that sounds almost like Ezra.

Ezra is a nice boy’s name, but it’s so awful on a girl. It’s too bad that some people just don’t get it and think that, just because it ends in an “a”, it’s a girl’s name! I feel bad for any poor girl who is unfortunate enough to be named Ezra.

I think Ezra is beautiful, in fact it is the name of my baby born February 2008. It is a name that is resurfacing after being uncommon for many years. I have heard it’s a girl name, but I quickly point out its biblical origin. Many people who do not read the bible do not know this because it has not been common for quite some time.

I used to know a girl named Ezra, and another one named Azrah. I just makes me weep! Ezra is one of my favorite zippy boy names, and it’s a plus that my husband loves it also! He loves the band “Better than Ezra”. I have always secretly dreamed of having twin boys named Ezra and Boaz, both biblical, both four letters with the cool letter Z, it would be just so cool!

Congrats on your darling Ezra! So nice to hear about a boy with this name. Funny how the universe conspires … who knew that I’d posted it on his birthday?

I have run across someone suggesting Ezra as a girls’ name, but I choose to believe that she was just kidding. I’m not strongly against using masculine monikers for girls, I just can’t see why anyone would bother when there are so many great feminine choices out there.

Where Names Go To Die? LOL! Sounds like the area where I grew up – you can have any name you like, as long as it rhymes with Aiden. πŸ™‚

My Ezra was born on the very day you posted this! I continue to fall deeper and deeper in love w/ his name and am so glad we went w/ it.

My only qualm is some people do seem very ignorant to the -a ending. I expected some confusion as to our religious association, considering we are not Jewish, yet I only received one comment along those lines. Far more people that I have come in contact w/ think Ezra’s a girl’s name! :O

I think people will get more familiar w/ the name considering the rise of the -a(h)s that you wrote about in another post and also the growing popularity of less common biblical names. I am positive that many of the reactions I have received are due to my area, also known as Where Names Go to Die. πŸ˜› I receive some of the nicest possible compliments on Ezra’s name by those people who “get” it.

I will fully disclose that I <3 biblical names, if you haven’t gathered so already.