Can a Jew name a child after a (deceased) non-Jew (non-relative)? Is there any prohibition against it?

  • 2
    Related, but not duplicate: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/78/5323 (Matt's answer there comes highly recommended)
    – MTL
    Commented Sep 8, 2014 at 23:46
  • 3
    Consider the name Alexander which came from Alexander the great. Mordechai came from Marduk. Esther was a Hebraization of Ishtar. certain secular names were originally derived from Hebrew but people have forgotten that Commented Sep 9, 2014 at 0:19
  • @sabbahillel judaism.stackexchange.com/q/41220/5323
    – MTL
    Commented Sep 9, 2014 at 13:39
  • @sabbahillel - Such as "Toby" which is derived from "Tuvia."
    – ezra
    Commented Oct 19, 2017 at 3:00

1 Answer 1


There appears to be no formalized halachic restriction on how to name a child. One commonality is not to name a child after a Jewish enemy, but I know of no halacha against doing so. (It would be weird to find a Jewish boy named Nebuchadnezzar :-) Besides it being a "nasty" name, it's too long. And, you wouldn't want to shorten it to "nebbish".)

Consider these examples:

Abram and Sarai were non-Jewish names. Is Yishma'el a "Jewish" name? Yet, we know of a Rabbi Yishma'el who is mentioned many times in the Talmud, as well as our morning davening.

Names such as Dov-Ber, etc. are named after animals. I know a few people having this name who were not named after anyone.

As @sabbahillel indicated, above, Alex(ander) is a popular name. Many German Jews named their sons Franz after Franz Joseph.

  • I've heard of a Nimrod. Not quite Nebuchadnezzar, but...
    – Scimonster
    Commented Sep 9, 2014 at 13:43
  • Antignos of Socho?
    – John Donn
    Commented Jan 11, 2015 at 18:17
  • @JohnDonn - It's a Greek name, as was common at the time. There were many converts, as well. What point are you making?
    – DanF
    Commented Jan 12, 2015 at 1:54
  • @DanF just wanted to add an example - when I read Pirkei Avot, it came as a surprise to me to find among the highest Torah she-be-`al peh authorities a Greek name as well.
    – John Donn
    Commented Jan 12, 2015 at 6:59

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