daniel

Last name origins & meanings:

  1. English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Polish, Czech, Slovak, Hungarian (Dániel), Romanian, and Jewish: from the Hebrew personal name Daniel ‘God is my judge’, borne by a major prophet in the Bible. The major factor influencing the popularity of the personal name (and hence the frequency of the surname) was undoubtedly the dramatic story in the Book of Daniel, recounting the prophet’s steadfast adherence to his religious faith in spite of pressure and persecution from the Mesopotamian kings in whose court he served: Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar (at whose feast Daniel interpreted the mysterious message of doom that appeared on the wall, being thrown to the lions for his pains). The name was also borne by a 2nd-century Christian martyr and by a 9th-century hermit, the legend of whose life was popular among Christians during the Middle Ages; these had a minor additional influence on the adoption of the Christian name. Among Orthodox Christians in Eastern Europe the name was also popular as being that of a 4th-century Persian martyr, who was venerated in the Orthodox Church.
  2. Irish: reduced form of McDaniel, which is actually a variant of McDonnell, from the Gaelic form of Irish Donal (equivalent to Scottish Donald), erroneously associated with the Biblical personal name Daniel. See also O’Donnell.
  3. Peter Daniel was one of the pioneer settlers in the 17th century in Stafford County, VA, where he was a justice of the peace. His grandson, Peter Vivian Daniel, was a U.S. Supreme Court justice from 1841 to his death in Richmond, VA, in 1860.
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