Abigail derives from two Hebrew elements. The first, Ab or Abi|
(אב) means "father". The second, comes from the Hebrew root gil (גיל) meaning to "rejoice or be joyful".
The name is also used in Ireland as an Anglicized form of the Irish name Gobnat.
The name Abigail was borne by two women in the bible who were referenced under a number of spellings. It was the name of King David's sister. It was also the name of King David's third wife, who married him upon the death of her husband Nabal.
Because King David's wife referred to herself as David's "handmaid", the name also became widely used as a term for a lady's maid as in the play "The Scornful Lady" (1616) by Beaumont and Fletcher.
Two U.S. First Ladies also bore the name Abigail. Abigail Adams and Abigail Van Buren.
The name saw popularity during the 17th century under Puritan influence. The name has seen a resurgence and has been one of the top 20 most popular U.S. girl's names since 1998 (see Abigail name popularity).
Variants of the name Abigail include Aabagael, Abaegayle, Abagael, Abagail, Abagale, Abagayle, Abagil, Abaigael, Abaigeal, Abbagail, Abbe, Abbegail, Abbegale, Abbegayle, Abbeygael, Abbigael, Abbigail, Abbigale, Abbigayl, Abbigayle, Abbi-Gayle, Abbygael, Abbygail, Abbygale, Abbygayle, Abegail, Abegayle, Abgail, Abiageal, Abichail, Abigael, Abigailie, Abigal, Abigale, Abigall, Abigayil, Abigayle, Abigel, Abigil, Abrigail, Abygail, Aby-Gail, Apikalia, Avagail, Avichayil, Avigail, Avigayil.
The name Gubnat is a form of Abigail.
Abigail has the diminutives (nicknames) Abbey, Abbi, Abbie, Abby, Abbye, Abee, Abey, Abi, Gail, Gaila, Gaile, Gayle.
Abigail falls into the easy nickname name category.
Some famous bearers of this name include: Abigail Adams, Abigail Van Buren.
Hebrew names have their origins in either the Old Testament or modern Hebrew vocabulary.
Local language versions of biblical names of Hebrew origin such as Hannah and David are still widely internationally popular today.
Modern Hebrew names are often derived from Hebrew vocabulary, for example Aviva (spring) and Dov (bear).
Children of Jewish heritage are usually given a Hebrew name for religious purposes and are sometimes also given a local language version of that name for secular purposes.
By custom, Ashkenazi Jews (Jews of German or Eastern European descent) name their children after deceased relatives. This is in order to honor the deceased relative, keep their name and memory alive, and to form a bond between the soul of the baby and the deceased relative so that they can live on within the newer generation.
Sephardic Jews (Jews of Spain, Portugal and the Middle East) in contrast, name their children after living relatives or deceased relatives. The father's parents names are generally used first and then the mother's parents names.
Neither Ashkenazi or Sephardic Jews will name a baby after one of the parents.
After a child is born, the father is given an aliyah (religious honor to bless the reading of the Torah). After this a blessing is said for the health of the mother and child. If the baby is a girl, she is named at this time. If the baby is a boy, he will be named during his brit milah (ritual circumcision) generally eight days after birth.