English form of Iohannes
, the Latin form of the Greek name Ιωαννης (Ioannes)
, itself derived from the Hebrew name יוֹחָנָן (Yochanan)
is gracious". This name owes its popularity to two New Testament
characters, both highly revered saints
. The first is John the Baptist, a Jewish ascetic who was considered the forerunner of Jesus
Christ. The second is the apostle John, who is traditionally regarded as the author of the fourth Gospel and Revelation.
This name was initially more common among Eastern Christians in the Byzantine Empire, but it flourished in Western Europe after the First Crusade. In England it became extremely popular: during the later Middle Ages it was given to approximately a fifth of all English boys.
The name (in various spellings) has been borne by 21 popes and eight Byzantine emperors, as well as rulers of England, France, Sweden, Denmark, Poland, Portugal, Bulgaria, Russia and Hungary. It was also borne by the poet John Milton (1608-1674), philosopher John Locke (1632-1704), American founding father and president John Adams (1735-1826), and poet John Keats (1795-1821). Famous bearers of the 20th century include author John Steinbeck (1902-1968), assassinated American president John F. Kennedy (1917-1963), and musician John Lennon (1940-1980).