He’s a minor Old Testament prophet and a major force in the kitchen.

Thanks to Christina for suggesting Hosea as Name of the Day.

If you followed the most recent season of Top Chef: New York, you know that Hosea Rosenberg beat out Stefan, Carla and Fabio for the title of Top Chef. (Besides bragging rights, Hosea nabbed cash and fabulous prizes.) He’d been executive chef at a seafood restaurant in Boulder, Colorado before achieving his newfound fame.

Since Noah, Elijah and Isaiah are all positively mainstream, will some parents searching for a Biblical boys’ name find themselves considering Hosea?

Chef Hosea favored the ho ZAY ah pronunciation. Ho ZEE uh is also valid, and leads to the cool nickname Zee.

While he sounds like he’s related to José, that’s not the case. Instead he’s Hebrew. The word hoshea translates to salvation. The ever-popular Joshua shares similar roots. He was born Hoshea, but changed his name to Yehoshua – “God is salvation” – on the recommendation of Moses.

In the Old Testament, Hosea was a prophet who suffered through an unhappy marriage. He penned The Book of Hosea, comparing his faithless wife to the people of Israel – and predicting that both would repent.

While Hosea has never been common, he’s not a complete rarity. In the nineteenth century, he frequently ranked in the 400s, peaking at #360 in 1885. He’s appeared in the Top 1000 as recently as 1963, when sixty newborn boys received the name.

A few notable Hoseas from over the years include:

  • Hosea Hudson was born a Georgia sharecropper at the end of the nineteenth century. He went on to help register African Americans to vote in the earliest days of the civil rights movement;
  • In the 1850s, Hosea Ballou II was the first president of Tufts University, a Universalist clergyman just like his same-named father;
  • 19th century American writer James Russell Lowell named a character Hosea Biglow. Lowell was among the first to capture American dialects in writing – his Hosea was a Yankee who used slang like aint and feller;
  • Harry Turtledove, a sci fi author known for his popular alternate histories, has also used the name for a character. His Hosea was elected Vice President of the United States as a Socialist party candidate in Turtledove’s version of 1920;
  • Actor Hosea Chanchez plays Malik on The Game, The CW’s top ranked show about the lives of professional athletes for the (fictional) NFL team, the San Diego Sabers;
  • Hosea Hunt Rockwell was a US Congressman from New York in the 1890s.

It’s tough to pigeonhole Hosea. He legitimately sounds like a Jewish heritage choice, a successor to popular Biblical boys’ names like Noah, an African American appellation or an antique found hanging on the family tree. Throw in the culinary reality star and literary characters, and Hosea is surprisingly versatile.

While he’s still far from the mainstream, Hosea could very well experience a renaissance in the next few years.

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. I first considered Hosea after hearing the Biblical story retold by Sean Astin in a mini-movie.
    Such a precious story.
    Hard to picture on a baby or toddler for me, but it’s not out of the question if I had another boy.
    What middle would go with it?

  2. Like Chaneltara, I had also forgotten about Hosea until Top Chef. That bald dome made the moniker adorable for me! I like that ‘z’ sound in the middle, I love that you don’t run into him everywhere you go, plus I had a childish juvenile inside joke with somebody many moons ago about “Hosea”.

    I was not aware that it meant “salvation”; a plus for many parents out there.

  3. I love Hosea, had completely forgotten about it until Top Chef, but I liked him, so he made the name awesome for me. Great name!

  4. I’m surprised more parents haven’t discovered Hosea, yet, what with the explosion of the more obscure Biblical boys recently. Personally, I don’t find it too overly religious, but then again, I like quite a few Biblical boy names (often BECAUSE they are Biblical). While I don’t love Hosea for myself, I could appreciate it on another’s youngster…

    Overall, not bad. Hosea is a-ok with me 🙂

  5. I’m singing Hosea! (sorry, bad joke). Raised Roman Catholic, this one’s a bit too religious for me. But I do like his sound, fun to say, ho-ZAY-ah. yeah. I like him but not enough to use him. I’d be pleased to meet one, or more, though. ho-ZAY-ah, Fun! 😀

  6. I swear my love of Top Chef is over now. Hosea never should have won. ;-{

    But his name intrigues me. Hosea Turtledove in particular is a really fantastic name I won’t soon forget!

  7. I know it’s Hebrew, but it sounds so Hispanic to me because of Jose. I like Jose better, I’m not big on Hosea at all. It’s too religious for my taste, and I can just hear the “hose bag” taunts.