Biblical name (meaning ‘God is my judge’ in Hebrew), borne by the prophet whose story is told in the Book of Daniel. He was an Israelite slave of the Assyrian king Nebuchadnezzar, who obtained great favour through his skill in interpreting dreams and the ‘writing on the wall’ at the feast held by Nebuchadnezzar's son Belshazzar. His enemies managed to get him cast into a lions' den, but he was saved by God. This was a favourite tale in the Middle Ages, often represented in miracle plays. The name has been perennially popular among English speakers since the 16th century and has been particularly favoured since the 1980s.