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Updated April 15, 2024

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Boy name origins & meanings

What does John mean and stand for?


  • Hebrew: God is gracious
  • English: The grace or mercy of the Lord

Gender: Male

Syllables: 1

Pronunciation: The name John is pronounced jahn

The name John is of Hebrew origin meaning "God is gracious." John is an English derivative of the Hebrew name Yochanan via the Latin name Iohannes. Along with its strong presence in Christianity, John was the name of countless kings and notables, making it the most popular name for 400 years.

How Popular Is The Name John

Family name origins & meanings

English, Welsh, German, etc.: ultimately from the Hebrew personal name yọ̄hānān "Jehovah has favored (me with a son)" or "may Jehovah favor (this child)." This personal name was adopted into Latin (via Greek) as Johannes, and has enjoyed enormous popularity in Europe throughout the Christian era, being given in honor of St. John the Baptist, precursor of Christ, and of St. John the Evangelist, author of the fourth gospel, as well as others of the nearly one thousand other Christian saints of the name. Some of the principal forms of the personal name in other European languages are Welsh Ieuan, Evan, Siôn, and Ioan; Scottish Ia(i)n; Irish Séan; German Johann, Johannes, Hans; Dutch Jan; French Jean; Italian Giovanni, Gianni, Ianni; Spanish Juan; Portuguese João; Greek Iōannēs (vernacular Yannis); Czech Jan; Russian Ivan.

Polish has surnames both from the Western Slavic form Jan and from the eastern Slavic form Iwan. There were a number of different forms of the name in Middle English, including Jan(e), a male name (see Jane); Jen (see Jenkin); Jon(e) (see Jones); and Han(n) (see Hann). There were also various Middle English feminine versions of this name (e.g. Joan, Jehan), and some of these were indistinguishable from masculine forms. The distinction on grounds of gender between John and Joan was not firmly established in English until the 17th century. It was even later that Jean and Jane were specialized as specifically feminine names in English; bearers of these surnames and their derivatives are more likely to derive them from a male ancestor than a female.

As a surname in the British Isles, John is particularly frequent in Wales, where it is a late formation representing Welsh Siôn rather than the older form Ieuan (which gave rise to the surname Evan). As an American family name this form has absorbed various cognates from continental European languages. (For forms, see Hanks and Hodges 1988.)

Famous people with this last name

John in Pop Culture

Do you know these fictional characters that share this first name?

  • John McClane from Die Hard - A resilient New York City police officer who consistently finds himself in the middle of dangerous crises.
  • John Watson from Sherlock Holmes - The loyal friend and biographer of detective Sherlock Holmes.
  • John Wick from John Wick - A retired hitman seeking vengeance for the loss of his loved ones.
  • John Smith from The Matrix - A skilled hacker who discovers the true nature of reality and joins a rebellion against sentient machines.
  • John Connor from Terminator - The leader of the human resistance against Skynet's army of machines, destined to change the course of humanity's future.

Popularity of the Name John

According to Social Security Administration data, the name John has been consistently popular throughout history, maintaining a strong presence in the United States. It has traditionally been a top-ranking name, often holding a position in the top 20 most popular names for boys.

The name John has deep historical significance, with notable figures such as John F. Kennedy, John Lennon, and John Adams leaving their mark on politics, music, and literature, respectively. Actors like John Travolta and writers like John Steinbeck and John Milton have further contributed to the name's cultural prominence. In fiction, characters named John can be found in various works, including John Wick, Pulp Fiction, and the biblical figure of John the Baptist. The enduring popularity and widespread usage of the name John highlight its timeless appeal and universal recognition.

Where Is the Name John Popular?

This name is most popular across certain states in the U.S., including those highlighted on the map below.

Nicknames for John

These shortened names can make great nicknames for your baby.

  • Jack
  • Johnny

John Pairs Well With These Middle Names

Looking for a middle name that fits perfectly? Consider these!

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