Joseph Name Meaning

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If you are looking for a solid, classic name for your baby boy, Joseph might just be the right one. The name Joseph is a biblical name. Its earliest origins can be traced back to the Old Testament of the Bible, where it means “he will add” in Hebrew. 

In the Old Testament, Joseph appears in its Hebrew form Yosef as the favored 11th son of Jacob. One of the most well-known stories in the Bible tells of how Joseph gets sold into slavery by his jealous brothers.

He does not remain a slave but eventually gains the trust of the Pharaoh, rising to become the second most powerful man in Egypt. Joseph ultimately reconciles with his brothers and is united with his father when he steps in to save his family from famine.

The name Joseph is also found in the New Testament in its Greek form Ioseph as the Virgin Mary’s carpenter husband and Jesus’ earthly father. 

  • Origin: The name Joseph comes from the Hebrew verb yasaf (to increase). In the Old Testament, Joseph is a favored son of Jacob and Rachel. The name is also found in the New Testament as the husband of the Virgin Mary and the earthly father of Jesus. 
  • Gender: Joseph is most often used as a boy name. Feminine variations including Josephine, Jody, Joey, and Josie are common. 
  • Pronunciation: JO-seph

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 Joseph?

Joseph is a classic name that has maintained its popularity for over a hundred years. It has ranked as a top-25 baby name for boys in the United States throughout the last century. 

The name Joseph was extremely popular in the early 1900’s, holding a top 10 spot from 1900 to 1935. It was most popular in 1917 when it was ranked #5 and made up 2.6% of male births in the U.S. It then fell out of the top 10 in the 1930’s. After that, the name Joseph continued to rank in the teens with a short spurt of increased popularity before declining to its lowest ranking to date.

In 2020 Joseph was the #26 name for boys in America.

Although the name Joseph is almost always used as a boy name, its shortened form is often used as a girl name. There are multiple feminine variations of the name that are common as well.

Name Variations

As it is a biblical name, Joseph has an equivalent in many different languages. These include:

  • Jozef (Dutch)
  • Giuseppe (Italian)
  • Iosif (Russian)
  • Jusuf (Bosnian)
  • Jose (Spanish)
  • Youssef (Arabic)
  • Yousaf (Urdu)
  • Yusuf (Turkish)

Similar Names

If you're looking for other Biblical names that are similar to Joseph, here are some names from the Bible that also start with J:

Common Nicknames

Common nicknames for Joseph include:

  • Joe: A simple, unpretentious and down-to-earth nickname. The “average Joe” is a moniker used mostly in North America to describe an ordinary person or typical male.
  • Joey: A fun and friendly nickname often used with youngsters, but can remain a nickname through adulthood. “Joey” in the popular American sitcom Friends is an affable adult character who remains young at heart.  

Suggested Sibling Names

  • Jeremiah
  • Jacob
  • Jesse
  • Jim
  • Samuel
  • Noah
  • Rebecca
  • Hannah
  • Lydia
  • Rachel

Famous People Named Joseph

  • Joe Pesci, actor 
  • Joe Jonas, singer
  • Joseph Fiennes, actor
  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt, actor
  • Joe Biden, 46th President of the United States of America
  • Joe Rogan, television and podcast host
  • Joe Montana, football player
  • Joe Frazier, boxer
  • Joseph Haydn, composer
  • Joe DiMaggio, baseball player
  • Joey Ramone, musician

Fictional Characters Named Joseph

  • Joseph “Joey” Tribianni, character from television sitcom Friends
  • “Uncle Joey” Gladstone, character from television sitcom Full House
  • Joe Gardner, character from Disney Movie Soul
  • Joseph, character from the musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

More Baby Names

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

1 Source
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Social Security Administration. Get ready for baby: Popularity of a name.

By Vicky Yip
Vicky is a freelance writer specializing on topics relating to prenatal care, motherhood, parenting, family, and home life. She is also a Senior Contributor for HoustonMoms (City Mom Collective).