What Does the Name John Mean?

baby boy

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John is an ever-popular name. It's a familiar, but very traditional name with biblical origins. The name John is derived from the Hebrew Yohanan, meaning “graced by God.” It is a solid, traditional name that exudes strength, smarts, and kindness.

  • Origin: John is a biblical name, first appearing in its Hebrew form in the Old Testament. The New Testament, which was written in Greek, adapted the Hebrew name Yohanan as Ioannes, later Johannes in Late Latin, which then became John in English.
  • Gender: Though John has been used predominantly as the masculine form of the name, girls have sometimes been called John or Johnnie. Feminine variants include Jackie, Jacqueline, Jana, Jane, Janet, Jeanne or Jeannie, Joan, Joanna or Johanna.
  • Pronunciation: JON

Although many baby names are separated by gender, Verywell Family believes that sex does not need to play a role in your name selection process. It’s important to select a name that you feel suits your new baby the best.

How Popular Is the Name John?

John is one of the most popular names in the English-speaking world. It was the #1 name for boys in the United States from 1900 to 1923, and remained in the top five for another 50 years, dropping to #6 in 1973.

John continued to be among the top 10 names for boys in America through 1986, and stayed in the top 20 until 2009. The 2021 statistics rank the name John as the 27th most popular name for boys in the United States.

Name Variations

As it is a biblical name, John has an equivalent in virtually every known language. These include:

  • Gianni or Giovanni (Italian)
  • Hans (Danish)
  • Ivan (Russian)
  • Jan (Dutch)
  • Janek (Polish)
  • Jean (French)
  • Johann (German)
  • Juan (Spanish)

Similar Names

People named Jonathan often use “Jon” (without an H) as a nickname, and since it's pronounced the same way, this is sometimes viewed as a variant spelling of John.

In fact, Jon/Jonathan is based on an entirely different name in the Bible: Jonathan derives from the Hebrew Yonatan (“given by God”), whereas John comes from Yohanan (“graced by God”).

Other boy names from the New Testament include:

  • Andrew
  • Luke
  • Mark
  • Matthew
  • Paul
  • Peter
  • Phillip
  • Thomas

Other boy names starting with J:

  • Jacob
  • James
  • Jason
  • Jeremy
  • Jonah
  • Jonas
  • Joseph
  • Joshua

Common Nicknames

Jack or Jackie are frequent nicknames for John. For example, U.S. President John F. Kennedy was known to his friends as Jack.

The name Jack is very common in English literature. It is often associated with naivete and youth, as in several Mother Goose nursery rhymes (“Jack and Jill,” “Little Jack Horner,” “Jack Be Nimble,” “Jack Sprat”), as well as the tale of “Jack and the Beanstalk.”

Another nickname, Johnny, also expresses youth but is associated with heroic figures such as Johnny Appleseed or Johnny Tremain.

Suggested Sibling Names

  • Anna
  • Charles
  • Daniel
  • Elizabeth
  • Emily
  • Frank
  • George
  • Henry
  • Mary
  • Rose
  • Sophie
  • Violet

Famous People Named John

The best known Johns of the Bible are John the Baptist and John the Apostle, who is credited as the author of several books of the New Testament.

Although John has been a common name throughout English history, there was only one king of England called John—King John, who reigned from 1199 until his death in 1216.

John has been the name of several U.S. presidents, including John Adams, John Tyler, and John F. Kennedy. Recent presidential hopefuls have included Senators John Edwards, John McCain, and John Kerry.

Other Famous Johns

  • John Quincy Adams, the 6th U.S. president
  • John Denver, American folk and country singer
  • John Elway, Hall of Fame NFL quarterback
  • John Goodman, American actor
  • John Jay, first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court
  • John Legend, American singer-songwriter
  • John Lennon, English rock musician, songwriter, and member of The Beatles
  • John Malkovitch, American actor
  • John Mulaney, American comedian and former writer for "Saturday Night Live"
  • John D. Rockefeller, American business tycoon
  • John Steinbeck, American novelist
  • John Travolta, American actor

Famous Johnnys

  • Johnny Appleseed, the nickname of American pioneer nurseryman John Chapman
  • Johnny Carson, American comedian and talk show host
  • Johnny Cash, American singer-songwriter
  • Johnny Lawrence, the fictional antagonist of "The Karate Kid" film series
  • Johnny Mercer, American songwriter
  • Johnny Rose, fictional character on the TV show "Schitt's Creek"

Famous Jacks

  • Jack Black, American actor
  • Jack Iverson, Australian cricketer
  • Jack Kemp, American politician
  • Jack Kerouac, American novelist
  • Jack Lemmon, American actor
  • Jack London, American author
  • Jack Nicholson, American actor

More Baby Names

Still searching for the perfect baby name? Check out these related baby name lists for even more options:

1 Source
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  1. Social Security Administration. Popular Baby Names.

By Wendy Wisner
Wendy Wisner is a lactation consultant and writer covering maternal/child health, parenting, general health and wellness, and mental health. She has worked with breastfeeding parents for over a decade, and is a mom to two boys.