baby name NoaThe baby name Noa comes straight from the Bible, a short-but-strong possibility for a daughter. While it’s long been overshadowed by the chart-topping Noah, it’s a different, and distinctive, choice.

Thanks to Katharine for suggesting our Baby Name of the Day.


Even if you’ve never been to church, you know the story.

Noah and his family gathered the animals two by two and weathered the Biblical deluge. After the Great Flood receded, they re-populated the known world.

Puritan parents loved the story, and used his name for their sons. Modern parents are fans, too, and Noah became the #1 name in the US from 2013 to 2016.

But there’s a similar sounding name i the Bible, and it belongs to a girl.

The boy’s name, with the ‘h’ at the end, comes from a word meaning rest. Take away the ‘h’, and this is a feminine name, meaning movement.

In Hebrew, the ‘h’ is pronounced, making the names even more different. (It sounds a little like Noach.) But in English, they sound exactly the same.


There’s a second bearer of the name in the Old Testament.

She’s one of the five daughters of Zelophehad.

Noa and her sisters inherited Zelophehad’s property despite custom dictating that women could not inherit. The young women petitioned Moses and their community leaders to make their case – and won.

It’s an interesting story, and one much-discussed amongst Biblical scholars.


While the Hebrew roots of this girl’s name seem most familiar in an American context, it’s not the only potential Noa origin story.

In Japan, the meaning of Noa can be “love,” based on the kanji used to write the name.

Some sites list an Arabic origin. The Old Testament Noah is considered a prophet in Islam, so it’s reasonable to expect to hear Noah – or Nuh – in the Arabic and Islamic worlds.

However, there’s apparently an Arabic word nowa, which means nucleus – or, perhaps more broadly, center. It seems like a stretch.

It’s also sometimes listed as Hawaiian, though it does not appear to be a given name, but a word meaning commoner.

Regardless of other possible origins for Noa, it’s caught on across Europe.

It’s been popular in Spain, Portugal, and Belgium. Noa has held the #1 spot in the Netherlands, and it’s also been the most popular name for girls in Israel in recent years.

Of course, it’s also – in several languages – simply the preferred masculine spelling of Noah.


Characters by the name have appeared in Japanese animated series Fullmetal Alchemist, and the extended Star Wars universe – though the Star Wars character is male.

The most famous women are almost all Israeli – there’s a singer who has represented Israel in the EuroVision Song Contest, as well as actress Noa Tishby, who has guest starred on many a prime time drama in the US.

Fun fact for weather watchers: the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – home of the National Weather Service, among other functions – is abbreviated NOAA, and commonly pronounced just like Noah/Noa.

That’s not quite enough to make the baby name Noa a household name. But it’s caught on nevertheless.


The baby name Noa was nearly unknown in the US until the 1990s.

What explains the increased popularity of the name Noa?

Odds are that it’s down to two factors: first, as the name caught on internationally, some American parents would take notice. But chances are it also appealed to parents who liked Noah for a boy.

The combination of factors led to a slow, steady increase in the popularity of Noa.

By the year 2000, over 100 girls a year received the name.

In 2014, Noa debuted in the US Top 1000 at #935.

As of 2021, it reached a respectable #330. That’s not quite common, but neither is it rare.


The baby name Noa fits with more than one trend.

It’s a mini name, like baby girl names Mia and Ava. Despite separate roots from the Book of Genesis’ Noah, it feels borrowed from the boys, a style that puts it in the company of Harper and Quinn.

The meaning – movement – is another bonus.

If you’re looking for an energetic mini name that feels nicely international and just a little bit unexpected in the US, then the baby name Noa might be just right for you.

What do you think of the baby name Noa?

This post was originally published on September 20, 2008. It was substantially revised and re-posted on March 24, 2016 and again on January 3, 2022.

baby name Noa baby name Noa

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 am a 54 year old grandma from the Midwest. That many years ago, my parents (and additional family in general), were intent on biblical names. My father was finishing law school at the time and my mother was an English teacher. They wanted strong, yet not overpowering, names but we’re trying to avoid another Sarah or Mary. My name is Noa Jael, and although some explaining was at times necessary, I have always loved my name. I was the only Noa in school in a sea of girls named Jennifer and Laura. And the stories of both of these biblical women are significant. So to anyone considering the name Noa for your little girl (or Jael for that matter) the name is timeless throughout the rest of the world, and quite lovely. Just thought I’d offer the experience of an old and appreciative Noa.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment, Noa – and my goodness, your parents were very thoughtful about names. What a great story!

  2. My miracle child is named “Noa Arianna “. She was a 3lb 7oz, 33 week preemie. I actually named her after a perfume that my older sister wore. It was called “Noa”. It had a pearl at the bottom of the bottle of it. My older sister had fertility issues and I was the first pregnant so I named my daughter that in honor of her. Today, Noa is 16 years old. She has the sweetest personality and is kind. She’s shy but super smart. She started college at age 14. She loves the Lord and makes great choices in her life. She’s a mover for sure. She’s paving her way for a great future at a young age.

  3. My adopted niece is named Noa. She came to the family by chance and so did her name. It was on a long list of names that we had compiled. Her adopted Dad just started calling her Noa before a name had been officially agreed upon and I just knew then that it would be her name! We are proud of our little Noa being named after a strong woman in the Bible. It holds the hopes and affirmations we have for her as she grows up in the World. It’s also interesting that it means movement. She is one active, and smart, little girl. To me, movement, can also refer to the action of the brain and wit, being quick to pick up on things and bend your environment to your desires. I know she will go far and I’m looking forward to watching her blossom!

  4. Love the name Noa for a girl. I actually had it on a list for our last (who turned out to be a boy and is now 11 years old). Noa for a girl was too “out there” for my husband, however. When my son started school, turned out there were more girl Noa’s (there are three, I believe) than boy Noah’s in his class. These little Noa’s would have been born in 2005, most probably in Israel. We live in the most ethnically diverse area (Queens, NY) in the whole US of A. Anyhow, LOVE the name Noa for a girl and love that it means “my love” in Japan.

  5. Hi, guys! My husband and I absolutely LOVE the name Noa. Though we are not expecting (yet :)), we have already established names for our future children. I have read the story of Noa and her sisters countless times and I love what they stood for. However, my bible (KJV) spells her name Noah. For those of you who say Noa (no “h”) is found in the bible, what version are you using?

  6. Luv it! My daughters name is Noa..and we are Germans! its true, the name is often confused with Noah…and I believe in Kindergarden they thought she was a boy for quite some time…but hey im still absolutely happy and pleased withour name choice and our Noa 😉 it suits her perfectly as well as the meanings to it.

  7. I’m a little late to the post (try five years!) but i had to add something. I came upon this post while trying to find people’s opinions on the name. As a Noa, I was just curious. I have to say i love my name! Sure, i always get the ” what? But isn’t that a boy name?” but after i have explained that it is infact a girls name as well ( sometimes going through the whole story of how my parents didnt know it at the time, simply loving the name and being happy that they could cling onto their israeli roots, Noa was actually a person in the bible) people always tell me how much they love the name and how beautiful it is. Noa is unique, pleasant, not overly girly but still feminine, and is absolutely beautiful. Don’t let ignorant, closed minded people stop you from naming your daughter Noa.

  8. My daughter was a miracle for me after never being able to conceive and finally at 40 finding out that I would have the privilege to carry a child and have one of my own. For a boy my pick was Noah and for a girl it was always Olivia. Being a Christmas baby I wanted Noelle for a middle name, when my husband blurted out Noa. He explained that he had researched the name and in fact it held a strong biblical meaning. I fell in love with the name immediately and our daughter Noa Olivia was born in December of 2012. She is a very strong willed beautiful blue eyed angel and I couldn’t even imagine a better fitting name for her!!!!

  9. omg, I’ve come upon this post way to far from it’s beginning in 2008!! It’s now August 2014, and I just discovered Noa, as I am in the midst of legally changing my OWN name 🙂 I’ve been over and over and over EVERYthing!!! Driving myself to crazyland!!! I was going to give up and just go with Julie because every Julie I’ve EVER known was Beautiful. Wow, I was “giving up” my “dream name”, that I couldn’t have anyways because unlike California, where you can have like 13 middle names and create a lovely kaleidoscope, here in good ole Boston, Mass, they are tightwas/fisted 🙁 BOO!!! The courthouse didn’t even KNOW the limit, they told me to call Social Security, she was so surprised by the question that she said, in her 40 yrs of working there, NO ONE had ever asked LOL, (story of my life), she asked her supervisor, it’s 16 letters per first, middle, last, well, there went my dream of my “special” name. Then I thought, well, I suppose I could just fill out the name part and write, “must speak to judge”, then when I got called on a date to see the Judge, I could “throw myself on his/her mercy & BEG for “life, liberty & THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS!!!! who know, it MAY work, it may not. But if it Does, NOA will be in my Kaleidoscope of names, if it DOESN’T work, I will just be NOA 🙂 with some middle and the special Last name I came up with (found). So I am TOTALLY & COMPLETELY in LOVE with the name Noa, AND the meanings behind her FABULOUSNESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I think Israel has the RIGHT idea!!!! Thank you so much for letting me share this….I have been copying baby name lists since I got online in 1996, I just can’t believe it took me almost 20 yrs to find NOA. Love, Ali (Alice=ick!)

  10. My daughter Noa Gabrielle was born in Oct. 2010. Even then we knew Noah was on the upswing but in response to a previous poster’s comment about how Anglophiles want their girl’s names super feminine, how much girlier can a name get than with just one soft consonant at the beginning and two big beautiful open vowels at the end?! I actually found it in French baby name book listed as the feminine version of Noah (which of course is so wrong!) but it stayed in my head and ultimately I couldn’t get it out of my head when we were deciding. I didn’t know it means movement but boy does this girl move! She has been in gymnastics since she was 10 months old and doing things that my older daughter who was 3 at the time, was still learning in her class! Crazy how that rings true for us. I have since ran into a couple of boy Noah’s at the playground and people are always interested in enough to learn that we spell our daughter’s name differently and I love being able to share the feminist bible story with them too. As for school…it will only take that first day for the teacher to figure it out and she’ll go through school with the same kids so I don’t imagine this being a huge deal unless she has to move around a lot and go through the first day many times. And for what it’s worth, my husband is French so we travel there and to Belgium quite often. In France, Noah is not common and Noa is unheard of. I just couldn’t let any of the perceived drawbacks of this name stop me from loving how simple, feminine, graceful, loving and yet strong this name is. I hope more people embrace it because it has so much more wow factor than the ubiquitous boy name Noah.