Gender: Feminine
Origin: Biblical/Hebrew
Meaning: “her father’s joy” or “fountain of joy.”

In the Old Testament, the name is borne by the wife of King David and the mother of Amasa. The name sometimes appears in the Bible as Abagal and in, modern Hebrew, the name is rendered as Avigáyil (אֲבִיגַיִל)

Abigail did not become popular in the English speaking world til after the Reformation. It was a very popular choice among Puritans and early Americans. It was borne by the second First Lady of the United States, Abigail Adams (1744-1818), wife of President John Adams. It was also borne by their daughter who was known as Nabby Adams Smith (1765-1813).

In the 16th century, Abigail became a generic term for a servant woman or maid, thanks, in part, to Beaumont and Fletcher’s The Scornful Maid (1616). The name was ironically borne by the lady in waiting to Queen Anne, who was born quite a few years after the name was used to describe a servant woman (b. 1670).

In modern American culture, the name has become extremely popular for newborns. It started rising up the charts in the late 90s making it all the way up to # 4 by 2005. In 2008, it dropped back down to # 8.

Popular English nicknames include Abby, Nabby, & Gail.

Other forms of the name include:

  • Abigaïl (Dutch)
  • Abigaël/Abigaïl (French)
  • Abigaia Αβιγαια (Greek: Biblical)
  • Apikalia (Hawaiian)
  • Abigél (Hungarian)
  • Abigaille (Italian: very rare, pronounced, ah-bee-GUILE-ley)
  • Abigaili (Kiswahili)
  • Abigaíl (Spanish)

2 thoughts on “Abigail

  1. As a 35-going-on-36 y.o. Abby, I can attest that it has gone from being a relatively uncommon name to one heard everywhere.

  2. Yes, I agree. Abigail was virtually unheard of around the year you were born. I would be interested to know what suddenly sparked its popularity in the late 90s?

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