What does Ishmael mean?
Ishmael /ish-mael/ [2 sylls.] as a boys' name is pronounced EES-mah-el. It is of Hebrew origin, and the meaning of Ishmael is "God listens".
Biblical: the son of Abraham by Sarah's Egyptian slave woman Hagar. Among his descendants were Bedouin tribes and Muhammad (seventh century), founder of Islam. Literary: because Ishmael was cast out to wander in the desert, the name is often used symbolically, as in Herman Melville's novel "Moby Dick". Ismael is the Spanish form; Ismail is Arabic.
How popular is Ishmael?
Ishmael is an unusual given name for men but a very prominent last name for both adults and children (#11385 out of 150436, Top 8%). (2000 U.S. Census)
Charted below is the birth name popularity of Ishmael for boys. Ishmael entered the list in 1910-1919 and reached its peak position of #903 in the U.S. in 1997, but is not ranked at the moment. (Top 1000 Baby Names Statistics, 2014)
The only other popular related form of Ishmael is Ismael (#384 last year). Adoption of these boy names was at its highest in 1996 (usage of 0.369%) and is somewhat lower today (usage 0.308%, down 16.5%). Ismael (#384) is the most chic birth name among these. Below is a charted analysis of the popularity of the boy name Ishmael and affiliated names. (Top 1000 Baby Names Statistics, 2014)