Religious Names

Reserved Reuel

Reuel Colt Gridley

Why isn’t Reuel a more popular name?  Plenty of other obscure Old Testament names like Amaziah and Joah are more popular and getting trendier.  Moreover, it’s one of J. R. R. Tolkien’s middle names, giving it some serious nerd cred.  And for spiritual folks, it has a fantastic meaning: “friend of God.”  Yet in 2015, only 8 boys were given this name in the U.S.  I would expect it to register at least 30 times, but apparently there were fewer than 10.  What’s up with that? 

In the Bible, the name belongs to more than one person.  Apparently Jethro and Reuel were the same person (though there’s some debate).  Another Reuel was a son of Esau.

The name Reuel also has a number of fairly prominent bearers outside the Bible.  Here are some:

  • Senator Reuel Williams of Maine, Democrat (1783-1862).  His parents were named Seth and Zilpha, and his grandparents Abigail and Benaiah (wow!).  You can read more about him here, in the Memoir of Hon. Reuel Williams.
  • St. Regulus or St. Rule (4th-century?) – Curiously, Reuel is listed under the profile of a Greco-Scottish St. Regulus at, though this profile itself originated on Wikipedia.  I wonder if someone simply took alternate spelling Rieul (from Regulus, not Reuel) and thought the saint could be called Reuel too.  Nevertheless, the thought of using Reuel to honor a saint is interesting!
  • Reuel Colt Gridley (1829-70).  During the Civil War he raised a quarter million dollars for wounded Union veterans with a sack of flour!  
  • Jairus Reuel Aquino (born 1999) – A teen actor from the Philippines. 

What do you think of Reuel?  Do you think it could take off? 


10 thoughts on “Reserved Reuel

  1. I do like Reuel but I think the problem is how to pronounce it, and perhaps that’s why it isn’t as popular as it could be. Is it a one syllable name like “Rool? Or two syllable “Roo-el”? Honestly, I find myself saying it both ways. I like the name but personally I’m a fan of Raoul.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sort of both? I usually pronounce it with two syllables, but more like Roo-uhl. Which sounds like “rule,” but more drawn out.

      If you think about it, I bet it could even be trisyllabic. “Ray-oo-el.”


  2. John Ronald Reuel Tolkien is one of my favorite authors! I have wondered why his middle name is so rare, though I imagine other Tolkiendils would probably name their children or pets after elvish words/names rather than the author’s middle name, if given the preference. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! You are correct about character names and children…Samwise and Strider are both more popular. Arwen is the most popular name from the *trilogy*, but Thorin is even more popular now and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it in the top 1000 for 2016 or 2017.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hello! I came from the Community Pool post and your blog is a great find for me. I write fiction and consider character naming so important. I’ll spend weeks researching ideas in pieces on different sites. Your style of meanings with history and examples of named people is a nice one-stop source.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I see it in the comments about but I almost think you should edit your post to include John Ronald Reuel Tolkien! Teasing of course but definitely one of the most famous carriers of the Reuel moniker!


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