From the Biblical personal name Adam, which was borne, according to Genesis, by the first man. It is the generic Hebrew term for ‘man’, probably from Hebrew adama ‘earth’. Compare the classical Greek legend that Zeus fashioned the first human beings from earth. It was very popular as a personal name among non-Jews throughout Europe in the Middle Ages, and the surname is found in one form or another in most of the countries of Europe. Jews, however, have never used this personal name, except in recent times under Polish and English influence. Among Scottish and Irish bearers it is sometimes a reduced form of McAdam.