Unisex Names: No’am/Noam


A literally pleasant unisex Hebrew name little used in the English-speaking world but more popularly used in France and Israel. It’s No’am (or Noam).


Various sources¹ suggest that No’am/Noam may have been derived from נֹעַם (no’am) meaning “pleasantness.”

Usage in the English-speaking world

As noted, it is not often used in this part of the world. Turning attention, first of all, to the United States, it first appeared in the SSA Birth Index² in 1961 for boys and 1989 for girls, both with 5 persons being given this name in these particular years. In 2015, 116 boys and 6 girls were named Noam which results a gender ratio of 95.1% towards the masculine side.
Onto England & Wales now and it was given to 9 baby boys in 2014 according to the ONS². The peak for boys is in 2009 when 15 boys were given this name. For the girls, the only time Noam ranked in the ONS data was 1998 when 3 girls were given this name.
Finally onto South Australia and according to data from the Government of South Australia², only one Noam was in the data which stretches from 1944 to 2015.

Usage in France

As of 2010, according to data from INSEE (via Doctissimo)³, Noam was used on 7,129 males and 63 females, representing a gender ratio of 99.1% towards the masculine side. From the graph below showing the rise of Noam, using the same data:

Noam fr.png

Much of the male Noams (88.5% to be exact) are born in the 21st century, though there was a jump in popularity in 1975 and 1976. It is very much likely that Israeli singer and composer Noam Kaniel, who released his first song in France titled “Difficile de Choisir” in 1974 and was made popular by that song, was behind the jump.

Usage in Israel

Unfortunately for me (and probably for you as well), the Central Bureau of Statistics has only released the top 50 names from each year starting in 1948 and ending in 2007⁴. Nevertheless, No’am’s place in the top 50 both as a masculine and feminine name shows how more often it’s given to boys.

  Male Female
1974 50th not in top 50
1975 not in top 50 not in top 50
1976 not in top 50 not in top 50
1977 46th not in top 50
1978 not in top 50 not in top 50
1979 44th not in top 50
1980 not in top 50 not in top 50
1981 48th not in top 50
1982 42nd not in top 50
1983 39th not in top 50
1984 50th not in top 50
1985 not in top 50 not in top 50
1986 not in top 50 not in top 50
1987 not in top 50 not in top 50
1988 not in top 50 not in top 50
1989 not in top 50 not in top 50
1990 not in top 50 not in top 50
1991 not in top 50 not in top 50
1992 not in top 50 not in top 50
1993 not in top 50 not in top 50
1994 43rd 45th
1995 33rd 49th
1996 35th 35th
1997 32nd 34th
1998 27th 28th
1999 16th 23rd
2000 13th 22nd
2001 8th 10th
2002 6th 12th
2003 5th 16th
2004 2nd 21st
2005 2nd 25th
2006 4th 24th
2007 3rd 31st

In some years in the 90s and 00s, the rankings for No’am and No’am are close to each other. In the (almost) full 2014 data⁵, No’am was the top Jewish boy name with 1,608 Jewish baby boys being given this name. 381 Jewish baby girls were given this name as well (ranked 43rd), putting the gender ratio at 80.8% towards the masculine side.

That’s the unisex name of the month. Any thoughts? Leave them in the comments section below the sources.

Behind the Name on No’am – http://www.behindthename.com/name/noam¹
Morfix dictionary – http://www.morfix.co.il/en/%D7%A0%D7%95%D6%B9%D7%A2%D6%B7%D7%9D¹
English Hebrew Dictionary by Judah Ibn-Shmuel Kaufman, PhD & Benyamin Silk, PhD – https://archive.org/details/EnglishHebrewDictionary¹
Social Security Administration (United States) – http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/babynames/index.html²
Office for National Statistics (England & Wales) – http://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/livebirths/bulletins/babynamesenglandandwales/previousReleases²
Government of South Australia on baby name data – http://www.data.sa.gov.au/dataset/popular-baby-names²
Doctissimo (France, INSEE data) – http://prenoms.doctissimo.fr/³
Central Bureau of Statistics, 2014 statistics (Israel, via ynet) – http://go.ynet.co.il/pic/news/aaa/113.pdf⁵
Central Bureau of Statistics, 1948-2007 top 50 (Israel, via ynet) – http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-4480215,00.html⁴

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