Joseph with the baby Jesus
St Joseph with the Infant Jesus by Guido Reni, c 1635

Since profiling Joe, Montana, it’s only appropriate to get to the root of the name Joe: Joseph.

As many other names are, Joseph is a biblical name. The original Hebrew is יוֹסֵף, (Yosef), meaning “The Lord will increase” or “The Lord will add.” There were several Josephs in the bible, the first being Joseph, son of Jacob. According to Joseph was a fairly common Jewish name and didn’t become a popular Christian name until after the protestant reformation.


Portrait Detail of Jonathan Swift
Detail of a portrait of Jonathan Swift by Charles Jervas

When I was writing about the name John I, not surprisingly, came across the name Jonathan. I had always thought that John and Jonathan came from the same root, but apparently they are actually quite different.

Jonathan, according to Wikipedia and BabyNamesWorld means “Gift of God” or “God has Given.” The English name Jonathan comes from the hebrew יְהוֹנָתָן/יוֹנָתָן‎, (Yonatan or Yəhonatan).

When I did a Google search for Jonathan, the first result for a person was Jonathan Swift, the writer of Gulliver’s Travels, (which I should finish reading).


Welcome to Fascinating Names, the website about names – not just names of people, but of places, things, and whatever else we might want to name. Since this is the first post ever on this site, I am going to start out with my name, which is fascinating to me, because it’s mine.

My name is John, which according to,, Wikipedia, and the coaster that my mother sent me, means “God is Gracious.” It appears that John started out as יוֹחָנָן, (Yochanan), in Hebrew, which became Ιωαννης, (Ioannes), in Greek, which became lohannes in Latin, which finally became John in English.

Interestingly, John and Jonathan, although they’re similar and can both be abbreviated as Jon, are not the same name.

Some famous old-time Johns, (no, not like that), are John the Baptist, and the disciple John. Some new ones are John Lennon, (the he was the first result when I Googled “John” today), and John F. Kennedy.