All about the name John

In honour of John Lennon’s 37th Jahrzeit (death anniversary), I felt it would be fitting to do a post about this most historically common of all male names, in just about every single language.

John comes from the Hebrew Yochanan, which means “God is gracious.” Its massive popularity over the ages originated thanks to John the Baptist and John the Apostle (traditionally-attributed author of the fourth Gospel and Book of Revelations).

Initially, the name was more common among Eastern Christians in the Byzantine Empire, but it took off like wildfire in the West after the First Crusade. It was particularly popular in England, where roughly a fifth of all boys received this name during the Late Middle Ages.

U.S. President John Quincy Adams, 11 July 1767–23 February 1848

Over the centuries, the name John, in all its linguistic variations, has been borne by countless writers, musicians, artists, scientists, philosophers, emperors, kings, popes, military leaders, politicians, and countless other types of people.

John was #1 in the U.S. from 1880–1923, and remained in the Top 5 until 1972. It was in the Top 10 until 1986, and the Top 20 until 2008. As of 2016, it was #28, a rank it previously held in 2012. The name has never charted any lower than this, though it feels like a breath of fresh air and original choice these days.

English poet John Keats, as painted by William Hilton, Halloween 1795–23 February 1821

Though it’s been a good many years since John was as common and popular as it once was, its continued presence in the Top 30 is a credit to its enduring appeal. It also still enjoys respectable popularity in Ireland (#28), Northern Ireland (#44), Scotland (#56), Canada (also #56), New Zealand (#85), Sweden (#87), Australia (#97), and England and Wales (#120).

John also used to be very popular in Norway, with a high rank of #10 in 1947. It fluctuated in popularity over the years, fell off the Top 100 in 2003, came back the next year, and then fell off again.

King John of England, 24 December 1166–19 October 1216, painted by Matthew Paris

Other forms of the name include:

1. Ivan is Russian, Ukrainian, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Slovenian, Czech, Slovak, Serbian, Croatian, Belarusian, Bosnian, Italian, Norwegian, Danish, and Swedish. The variation Iván is Spanish and Hungarian. The proper pronunciation, Ee-VAHN, is so beautiful, but the Anglo EYE-vinn just throws this gorgeous name away.

Nicknames include Vanya, Vanyechka, Vanyushka, Vanyusha, Vanyushechka, and Ivanko (Russian); Ivo, Vancho, Yanko (Bulgarian); Ivica, Ivo (Serbian and Croatian); and Vančo, Ivo (Macedonian).

Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenev, my fourth-favourite writer, 28 October/9 November 1818–3 September 1883

2. Ioann is the older Russian form.

3. Iwan is Polish and Welsh. The Polish one pronounces the W like a V.

4. Ivane is Georgian. The nickname is Vano.

5. Ioane is the older Georgian form.

6. Giannis is modern Greek.

7. Giovanni is Italian. Nicknames include Gianni, Gian, Vanni, and Giannino.

8. Gjon is Albanian.

9. Ion is Romanian and Basque. Romanian nicknames include Iancu, Ionuţ, Ionel, and Nelu.

10. Jon is Basque and Scandinavian. The variation Jón is Icelandic and Faroese. This is #4 in Iceland.

11. Ioan is Welsh and Romanian.

12. Joan is Catalan and Occitan.

13. Ganix is Basque.

14. João is Portuguese. This name is #2 in Portugal.

15. Yoan is Bulgarian.

Giovanni Boccaccio, author of The Decameron, 16 June 1313–21 December 1375, engraved 1822 by Raffaello Sanzio Morghen in the style of Vincenzo Gozzini

16. Jowan is Cornish.

17. Yahya is Persian, Arabic, and Turkish.

18. Janusz is Polish. One of the nicknames is Janek.

19. Johan is Dutch and Scandinavian. Nicknames include Hans, Hannes, Janne (Swedish); Hanke, Hanne, Hannes, Hans, Joop, Jo (Dutch); Jannik, Jannick, Hans (Danish); and Hans (Norwegian).

20. Jens is Scandinavian.

21. Jan is Scandinavian, Dutch, Catalan, Czech, Slovenian, German, and Polish. The variation Ján is Slovak, with the nickname Janko.

22. Yann is Breton, with the nickname Yannig.

23. Johann is German, with the familiar nickname Hans. The variation Jóhann is Icelandic.

24. Johannes is German, Dutch, Scandinavian, Estonian, and Finnish. The variant Jóhannes is Icelandic and Faroese.

25. Juhan is Estonian. The alternate form Juhán is Northern Sami.

German scientist and mathematician Johannes Kepler, 27 December 1571–15 November 1630

26. Juanne is Sardinian.

27. Giuanne is also Sardinian.

28. Yohanes is Indonesian.

29. Hovhannes is Armenian. Nicknames include Hovik and Hovo.

30. Ohannes is also Armenian.

31. Ghjuvan is Corsican.

32. Ean is Manx.

33. Juan is Spanish and Manx, with different pronunciations.

34. Xuan is Asturian.

35. Jaan is Estonian.

German composer Johann Sebastian Bach, 21/31 March 1685–28 July 1750, painted by Elias Gottlob Haussmann

36. Jean is French.

37. János is Hungarian, with nicknames including Jani and Jancsi.

38. Juhana is Finnish, with nicknames including Juho, Juha, Jussi, Jukka, Hannes, and Hannu.

39. Janne is also Finnish.

40. Joni is Finnish and Fijian.

41. Jani is also Finnish.

42. Juhani is another Finnish form.

43. Jouni is also Finnish.

44. Johano is Esperanto, with the nickname Joĉjo.

45. Yan is Belarusian.

French philosopher and writer Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 28 June 1712–2 July 1778, painted by Maurice Quentin de La Tour

46. Yann is Breton and French.

47. Jovan is Macedonian and Serbian.

48. Xoán is Galician.

49. Jóannes is Faroese.

50. Keoni is Hawaiian.

51. Jānis is Latvian.

52. Jonas is Lithuanian.

53. Sjang is Limburgish.

54. Sjeng is also Limburgish.

55. Chuan is Aragonese.

Spanish artist Joan Miró, 20 April 1893–25 December 1983

56. Gensch is Sorbian.

57. Ghjuvanni is Corsican.

58. Gian is Romansh and Swiss–German.

59. Gioann is Piedmontese.

60. Ġwann is Maltese.

61. Hoani is Maori.

62. Hone is also Maori.

63. Jardani is Caló Romany.

64. Jeian is Filipino.

65. Sione is Tongan.

Romanian writer Ion Creangă, 1837/39–31 December 1889

66. Tihoti is Tahitian.

67. Xán is Galician.

68. Yehya is Uyghur.

69. Yohana is Swahili.

70. Yohannes is Amharic.

71. Jaqiya is Kazakh.

72. Iefan is Welsh. The more familiar Anglicization is Evan.

73. Ifan is also Welsh, with the nickname Ianto.

74. Ioannis is modern Greek.

75. Eoin is Scottish and Irish.

Polish sci-fi writer Janusz Andrzej Zajgel, 15 August 1938–19 July 1985

76. Seán is Irish.

77. Iain is Scottish.

78. Ian is also Scottish.

79. Siôn is Welsh.

80. Yoann is Breton and French.

81. Giuàn is Lombard.

82. Giuvanni is Sicilian.

83. Yovaan is Tamil.

84. Hankin is a Medieval English nickname.

85. Jankin is another Medieval English nickname.

86. Jackin is a variation of Jankin, and the origin of the nickname Jack.

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The many forms of Robert

Robert is a perennially popular, timeless classic, the likes of David or Charles. It’s never been out of the Top 100 in the U.S. since records started in 1880. It was #10 when name records began being kept, and, except for being #11 in 1881, was in the Top 10 until 1988. Robert was in the Top 5 for many of those years. From 1924–39, and in 1953, it was #1. For the last few years, it’s held steady in the lower 60s. It was #62 in 2016.

The name is also currently popular in Romania (#15), Iceland (#31), Ireland (#54), Hungary (#55), Scotland (#59), Croatia (#70), and Poland (#71).

Robert is used in English, French (pronounced Ro-BEHR), the Scandinavian languages, German, Dutch, Czech, Polish, Russian, Slovenian, Romanian, and Croatian. The variation Róbert is Hungarian, Slovak, and Icelandic.

The name’s origin is the Old Germanic Hrodebert, “bright fame,” derived from the elements hrod (fame) and beraht (bright). It was introduced to England by the Normans, as a replacement for the Old English Hreodbeorht.

Other forms of the name include:

1. Roberto is Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese.

2. Robertas is Lithuanian.

3. Robrecht is Dutch.

4. Roberts is Latvian.

5. Ruprecht is German.

6. Roparzh is Breton.

7. Roibeárd is Irish.

8. Raibeart is Scottish.

9. Roopertti is Finnish. Nicknames include Pertti and Roope.

10. Robat is Welsh.

11. Robe is Sami.

12. Robearta is also Sami.

13. Robertos is Greek.

14. Rovertus is an alternate Greek form.

15. Robertus is Dutch. A Latinized form like this would only be used on official documents, not in everyday life.

16. Rudbert is West Frisian.

17. Rûperte is Greenlandic.

18. Lopaka is Hawaiian.

19. Hopcyn is a Welsh nickname.

20. Dobbin is a Medieval English nickname.

21. Dobinet is another Medieval English nickname.

22. Hobelot is also Medieval English.

23. Robelot is Medieval English too. I obviously wouldn’t recommend this one in modern English, since it sounds like “rob a lot.”

24. Hob is also Medieval English.

25. Hopkin is yet another Medieval English nickname. Many of their diminutives don’t appear to make any sense to contemporaries, but they’re not so difficult to understand if one knows it was common to substitute letters; e.g., Bob from Rob, Peg from Meg, Dick from Rick.

26. Rhobert is the more formal Welsh form.

Feminine forms:

1. Roberta is English, Spanish, and Italian.

2. Roberte is French.

3. Ruberta is an alternate English, Dutch, and German form.

4. Roverta is Greek.

The many forms of Louis and Louisa

Louis was a Top 100 name in the U.S. from 1880–1959, with a peak of #18 in 1882. It gradually began falling in popularity during the 1920s, and fell out of the Top 50 in 1942. In 2009, it reached its lowest rank of #353. In 2016, it was #289.

Louis is the French form of Ludovicus, which in turn is the Latinized form of the German Ludwig. Its ultimate origin is the Old Germanic Chlodovech, which is composed of the elements hlud (famous) and wig (battle, war).

Louisa likewise has seen much more popular days, though it was never close to as popular as Louis. Its highest rank was #119 in 1881, and its final year in the Top 1000 was 1969, when it was #954. It only re-entered in 2014, at #971. By 2016, it was #825.

The French and English variant form Louise has historically been more popular than Louisa. It was in the Top 100 from 1880–1948, with the highest rank of #17, from 1912–14. Like its counterparts, it gradually began sinking, and fell out of the Top 1000 in 1988. It re-entered in 1990, fell out again in 1992, and had another re-entrance in 2016, at #895.

Louise is much more popular in France (#1) and Belgium (#2). It’s also fairly popular in Norway (#75), Switzerland (#73), and The Netherlands (#101). Louis also enjoys more popularity outside the U.S. It’s #1 in Belgium, #4 in France, #12 in Switzerland, #59 in Australia, #71 in England and Wales, and #82 in New Zealand.

Other forms of these names include:

Male:

1. Ludwik is Polish.

2. Ludwig is German.

3. Ludvig is Scandinavian, with the nickname Ludde.

4. Ludoviko is Esperanto, with the nickname Lučjo.

5. Lodewijk is Dutch, with nicknames including Ludo and Lowie.

6. Loïc is Breton and French.

7. Ludovico is Italian.

8. Lodovico is an Italian variant.

9. Ludis is Latvian.

10. Ludvigs is also Latvian.

11. Liudvikas is Lithuanian.

12. Lluís is Catalan.

13. Luis is Spanish, with the nickname Lucho. The variant Luís is Portuguese.

14. Lúðvík is Icelandic. The alternate form Ludvík is Czech, with the nickname Luděk.

15. Loís is Occitan. The variant Lois is Galician.

16. Ludovic is French.

17. Luigi is Italian, with nicknames including Gino and Luigino.

18. Luiz is Brazilian–Portuguese.

19. Lodosis is Aragonese.

20. Loeiz is Breton.

21. Loudovikos is a rare Greek form.

22. Loys is Gascon.

23. Lûíse is Greenlandic.

24. Lujo is Croatian.

25. Luui is Greenlandic.

26. Lüwi is Alsatian.

27. Koldobika is Basque, with the nickname Koldo.

28. Alajos is Hungarian.

29. Alojz is Slovak, Slovenian, and Croatian. The Slovenian nickname is Lojze.

30. Alojzij is Slovenian.

31. Alojzije is Croatian.

32. Aloysius is the Latinized form of Aloys, an archaic Occitan form of Louis.

33. Alois is German and Czech.

34. Alojzy is Polish.

35. Aloisio is Italian.

36. Alvise is Venetian.

37. Aloísio is Portuguese.

38. Alaois is Irish.

39. Aloxi is Basque.

40. Rewi is Maori.

41. Ruihi is also Maori.

42. Lajos is Hungarian.

Female:

1. Luisa is Spanish, Italian, Romanian, Czech, Slovak, German, Dutch, and Croatian. The variant Luísa is Portuguese.

2. Luiza is Russian, Romanian, Polish, and Brazilian–Portuguese.

3. Lujza is Hungarian and Slovak.

4. Louiza is Greek.

5. Liudvika is Lithuanian.

6. Loviise is Estonian.

7. Lovise is Norwegian and Danish.

8. Lovisa is Swedish.

9. Lluïsa is Catalan.

10. Ludwika is Polish.

11. Loviisa is Finnish.

12. Ludovica is Italian.

13. Luigia is also Italian, with nicknames including Gina and Luigina.

14. Luise is German.

15. Alojzia is Slovak.

16. Aloiziya is Bulgarian.

17. Alojzija is Slovenian and Croatian.

18. Lavīze is a rare Latvian form.

19. Loeiza is Breton.

20. Loïsa is Occitan.

21. Loisa is Galician.

22. Ludovique is a rare French form.

23. Luīze is Latvian.

24. Lüwiss is Alsatian.

25. Ruiha is Maori.

Pearly names (including the many forms of Margaret)

Pearl used to be quite a popular name in the U.S. In 1880, it was #47, and it remained in the Top 100 until 1926. Its highest rank was #24, in 1889, 1890, and 1900. It sank lower and lower, until it fell off the charts in 1977, In 1979, it returned, but fell off again in 1987. It returned briefly in 2007, and then returned yet again in 2009. In 2016, it was #567, and has been pulling up quite a bit in rank each year.

Margaret means “pearl,” from the Greek margarites, which in turn is probably ultimately derived from the Sanskrit manyari. Historically, the name has been enormously popular. From 1880–1930 alone, it was in the Top 5, and it was Top 10 from 1931–39. It was Top 20 from 1940–51, and then gradually began sinking. In 1976, it left the Top 100, though it returned from 1982–89. In 2016, it was #139.

Here, then, are both the many forms of Margaret and names whose meanings relate to the word “pearl.”

Unisex:

Alnilam means “string of pearls” in Arabic. This is the name of one of the stars in Orion.

Dar means “mother-of-pearl” in Hawaiian.

Durdana is Arabic and Urdu.

Hae-Ju can mean “ocean pearl” in Korean.

Hyeon-Ju, or Ju-Hyeon, can mean “virtuous/worthy/able pearl” in Korean.

Poema means “pearl of the deep seas” in Tahitian.

Yao can mean “mother-of-pearl” in Chinese.

Yong-Ju can mean “dragon pearl” in Korean.

Female:

Bermet is Kyrgyz.

Bisera is Bulgarian and Macedonian.

Bitxilore is Basque.

Châu is Vietnamese.

Darya means “pearl of God” in Hebrew. This isn’t to be confused with the Persian or Russian name. All three have different etymologies.

Dordana is Urdu.

Durar means “pearls” in Arabic.

Durdona is Uzbek.

Durrah is a rare Arabic name meaning “large pearl.”

Enku is Amharic.

Gohar is Persian.

Gyöngyi is Hungarian. The letter GY is sort of pronounced like a soft, quick D followed by a Y, the way people in certain parts of the English-speaking world pronounce the first syllable of “due” and “during.”

Gyöngyvér means “sister of pearl” in Hungarian.

Gyöngyvirág means “pearl flower” in Hungarian, and refers to the lily-of-the-valley.

Helmi is Finnish.

Hessa is Arabic.

Inci is Turkish.

Inju is Kazakh.

Inthurat is Thai.

Jinju is Korean.

Jua can mean “second pearl,” “apricot pearl,” or “Asia pearl” in Japanese.

Jumana is Arabic.

Krõõt is Estonian.

Leimoni means “pearl lei” or “pearl child” in Hawaiian.

Lulu is Arabic, and not to be confused with the (mostly) English and German nickname.

Maarit is Finnish.

Maighread is Scottish. The nickname is Maisie.

Mairéad is Irish. Without an accent mark, this is also a Scottish variation.

Makaleka is Hawaiian.

Mākere is Maori.

Makereta is Fijian.

Malghalara is Pashto.

Małgorzata is Polish, with the nicknames Marzena, Gosia, and Małgosia.

Marc’harid is Breton.

Maret is Estonian.

Margaid is Manx.

Margalit, or Margalita, is Hebrew.

Margareeta is Finnish.

Margareta is German, Scandinavian, Romanian, Slovenian, Dutch, Finnish, and Croatian. The variation Margaréta is Slovak and Hungarian. German nicknames include Greta, Grete, Gretchen, Gretel, and Meta; Swedish nicknames are Meta, Märta, and Greta; Norwegian nicknames are Mette, Meta, Grete, and Grethe; Danish nicknames are Merete, Mette, Meta, Grethe, and Grete; Dutch nicknames are Griet, Greet, Grietje, and Greetje; and Finnish nicknames include Reeta and Reetta.

Margarete is German.

Margaretha is Dutch and German.

Margarethe is German and Danish.

Margareto is Esperanto.

Margaretta is an English variation.

Margarida is Catalan, Portuguese, Occitan, and Galician.

Margarit, Markarid, or Margarid, is Armenian.

Margarita is Russian, Bulgarian, Spanish, Scandinavian, Greek, and Lithuanian.

Marged is Welsh, with the nickname Mared.

Margherita is Italian.

Margit is Hungarian, German, Estonian, and Scandinavian.

Margita is Slovak.

Margreet is Limburgish and Dutch.

Margrét is Icelandic. The nickname is Gréta.

Margrethe is Norwegian and Danish.

Margriet is Dutch.

Margrieta is Latvian and Dutch.

Margrit is German.

Marguerite is French. Nicknames include Margaux and Margot.

Marharyta is Ukrainian.

Marhata is Sorbian.

Marit, or Marita, is Norwegian and Swedish.

Marjan is Kazakh.

Marjeta is Slovenian.

MarjorieMargery, or Marjory, is Medieval English.

Markéta is Czech and Slovak.

Marketta is Finnish.

Mèrdgitte is Jèrriais.

Mererid is Welsh.

Merit is Swedish.

Momi is Hawaiian.

Momilani means “heavenly pearl,” “royal pearl,” “noble pearl,” and “spiritual pearl” in Hawaiian.

Morî is Kurdish.

Morvarid is Persian.

Mukda is Thai.

Penina is Hebrew.

Perla is Italian and Spanish.

Perle is French and Yiddish.

Perlezenn is Breton.

Poerani means “divine pearl” or “heavenly pearl” in Tahitian.

Poerava means “black pearl” in Tahitian.

Retha is Afrikaans.

Sadaf means “mother-of-pearl, seashell” in Arabic.

Sadap means “mother-of-pearl” in Turkmeni.

Shinju is Japanese.

Male:

Akinci means “white pearl” in Turkish.

Akincibay means “white pearl lord” in Turkish.

Xhevahir means “pearl, jewel, diamond, gem, precious stone” in Albanian. XH is pronounced like the J in Jupiter.

The many forms of Daniel

Daniel has been a steadily popular Top 60 name in the U.S. since at least 1880. Its lowest rank was #55, from 1914–16. It entered the Top 20 in 1952, and in spite of a somewhat fluctuating rank, eventually entered the Top 10. Its highest rank was #5, which it held in 1985, 1990, 2007, and 2008. In 2016, it was #13.

It’s also popular in Romania (#9), Spain (#2), Ireland (#3), Galicia (#5), Hungary (#8), Finland (#10), the Czech Republic (#12), Iceland (#10), Catalonia (#13), Austria (#26), Canada (#23), England and Wales (#24), Australia (#29), Chile (#33), Italy (#41), Mexico (#12), New Zealand (#28), Norway (#17), Scotland (#18), Northern Ireland (#5), Croatia (#63), Switzerland (#39), Portugal (#31), and Poland (#55).

The spelling Daniel is used in English, French, German, the Scandinavian languages, Romanian, Hebrew, Portuguese, Armenian, Georgian, Czech, Slovak, Polish, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Slovenian, Spanish, and Croatian. The variant Dániel is Hungarian and Faroese; Daníel is Icelandic; and Daniël is Dutch.

Other forms include:

1. Daniyel is the original Hebrew form, and means “God is my judge.”

2. Daniil is Russian, with the nickname Danya.

3. Danilo is Slovenian, Serbian, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Montenegrin, and Croatian.

4. Daniele is Italian.

5. Danijel is Serbian, Slovenian, and Croatian.

6. Danyal is Persian, Urdu, Arabic, and Turkish.

7. Taniel is Western Armenian.

8. Danielius is Lithuanian.

9. Daniels is Latvian.

10. Dánjal is Faroese.

11. Deniel is Breton.

12. Danail is Bulgarian. The nickname is Dancho.

13. Taneli is Finnish. The nickname is Tatu.

14. Deiniol is Welsh.

15. Taaniel is Estonian.

16. Tanel is also Estonian.

17. Tâniale is Greenlandic.

18. Daaniel is Estonian.

19. Dainéil is Irish.

20. Dánial is Faroese.

21. Daniello is Italian.

22. Danielo is Latin American–Spanish.

23. Danilbek is Chechen, and means “Lord Daniel.”

24. Danilis is modern Greek.

25. Danilos is also Greek.

26. Daniyal is Kazakh and Pakistani.

27. Dänu is Swiss–German.

28. Danyil is Ukrainian.

29. Danila is Belarusian.

30. Daniley is also Belarusian.

31. Danylo is Ukrainian.

32. Kaniela is Hawaiian.

33. Rāniera is Maori.