The baby name Revel is a rarity with spirit – and plenty of potential.

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


Revel pulls double duty, serving as noun and a verb.

From the 1300s onward, it meant to make merry. We’re not talking a quiet night at home with a good book, either. Think rowdy, even riotous crowds – a mosh pit, not a waltz. A very good time indeed.

If you were attending such a party, then you were reveling.

It ultimately comes from the Latin word rebellare – also the root of our English word rebel.

By the eighteenth century, the meaning started to shift. You could “revel in” your good fortune or some other circumstance. The concept becomes a little more sedate.

Neither the noun or verb occurs in everyday speech now, but we recognize them – even if they’re mostly reserved for period dramas and Renaissance Festivals.

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Early in the twentieth century, Revel and Revell appear as given names, almost exclusively for boys, in the US data.


Because Revel occurs as a surname, along with Revell.

It has at least two possible sources:

  • It might’ve been given to someone who liked a party or was known for hosting extraordinary feasts.
  • There’s at least one Revel on the map in France.


While not unknown, the baby name Revel qualifies as exceedingly rare. In 2023, 22 boys and 17 girls were given the name.

That’s not exactly Liam or Isabella, but across the ages, Revel has been in use. It’s gained modestly over the last few years.


A few people by the name include:

  • As a surname, there’s late twentieth/early twenty-first century French writer and philosopher Jean-François Revel.
  • The late British filmmaker Revel Guest came from an aristocratic family. Winston Churchill was a cousin.
  • There’s dancer Craig Revel Horwood and writer and museum director J. Revell Carr.

None of these are household names, though swap the V for a B and there’s actress Rebel Wilson – close, but not the same.

Actor Matthew Morrison – of Glee fame named his son Revel James Makai Morrison in 2017.


The baby name Revel mixes the modern and innovative with the traditional and the unexpected. Remy meets Evelyn meets Gabriel.

It’s undeniably unisex. And unlike Rebel or Rowdy or Rogue, Revel – at least in twenty-first century English – doesn’t feel like a ticket to the principal’s office for bad behavior.

It might be especially appropriate for a child born around the holidays.


We love a good unisex R name. Just ask Rowan, Remy, Rory, River, or Reese. This name fits right in, a gender-neutral choice that sounds like so many current favorites.

While this name remains far outside the current US Top 1000, it could fit in nicely with current trends, an upbeat name that sounds joyful and interesting.

What do you think of the baby name Revel?

First published on December 5, 2017, this post was revised on May 20, 2024.


celebratory name

baby name Revel

A word name with more history than you might imagine, Revel is a celebration that sounds just like a name, Everly meets Gabriel.


unranked; given to 22 boys and 17 girls in 2023


holding steady


From the Latin word rebellare, to revel is to celebrate, and a revel is another word for a party or festival.

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 encountered Revel as a given name in the 2011 novel The Stranger’s Child by Alan Hollinghurst. It’s used for a minor but enigmatic character. I think it’s such a terrific, evocative name!

    I’ve since learned that author J.R.R. Tolkien’s second middle name, Reuel, may have derived from Revel. The name had been handed down through his family for multiple generations, and Tolkien himself wasn’t sure why – he believed it might have been the name of a French friend of his grandfather’s. In any case, he carried on the tradition by giving it as a middle name to each of his children, who also gave it to their children in turn.

  2. We decided to make our last kid Revel after Revelstoke ski resort in Canada. He ended up being a boy. I guess we are 1 of the 18 from 2015. We obviously love the name!