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User comments for John (Meaning / History Only)
I believe John is also a shortened version of Johnathon or Johnathan.
― Anonymous User
John means "A gift from God", despite the popularity of this name, it was a great meaning!
John and Jonathan are etymologically unrelated.
Derives from Greek: "Ιωαννης" deriving from "Ιων" and "Ιανος", who was the ancientest king of an ancient Greek colony in Italy. He also built a fortress on Rom's hill, the "Ianiculum". He was later deified, believing that he was son of Apollo and Kreusi, daughter of Athens' king Erehteus.
This name is also used in The Netherlands, where the name is a firm top 1000 name. It's one of those names that became increasingly popular in the country after World War II (i.e. a real "baby boomer" name), due to the country having been liberated by the Allied Forces (most of them American, Australian, British and Canadian). A lot of the soldiers that the Dutch natives met during the liberation were named John (which was a top 5 name in English-speaking countries at the time), so the name enjoyed quite some exposure in the entire country and thus many Dutch parents were inspired to give this name to their son. Quite often it would not be the name on the birth certificate, however: a lot of parents would officially name their son Jan or Johannes (which would thus be the name on the child's birth certificate), but they would simply call him John in daily life. I know many of these "baby boomer" Johns in my immediate environment - one of them being my mother's brother, who was born in 1958 (and he is one of those Johns who has Johannes on his birth certificate, but is always called John in real life).
The pronunciation for John varies in The Netherlands and the reasons for why that is are a bit complicated. For more information about this matter, please read this detailed post that I once wrote regarding that:
The pronunciation that I have always encountered in my immediate environment is ZHON (somewhat influenced by the French pronunciation from Jean). That is a fairly southern pronunciation (and I am from the south), as in the north of the country the pronunciation is usually DYON or SHON. All three pronunciations are "dutchized" pronunciations (which I talked about in my aforementioned post), but all of them closely resemble the British pronunciation of John. They don't sound anywhere near the American pronunciation of John at all.
An example of the Dutch pronunciation can be heard here:
Finally, well-known Dutch bearers of this name are media tycoon John de Mol (b. 1955) and the former soccer player John de Wolf (b. 1962).
The English name came as many- from a mistake. The Bible was first printed in Germany. When it was translated into English the name remained in the german form. So John should have been translated Ion since J is pronounced as I in german and h is silent.
Ps: usually the simplest solution is the correct one;
It is confusing when names like John, Jacob, Jonah, Joseph and Jude are referred to as biblical names.
The letter J was the last to be added to the English alphabet. Some have said it wasn't in use in the English language until the 1500s. Indeed, it is so new to our language, that it has been said that only the letters Q, X and Z are found less often than J, in English words. Other sources indicate that J and Q are the least often found and are about equally so.
When referring to biblical names, therefore, it would be useful to give the spellings for those names. As they were in biblical times. Without checking, my guess is than John may have been Yohanan.
The letters I and J have had the same meaning, hence Ian and Ivan seem to derive from John.
J may have come from the swash or 'decorative' style of the letter I, as seen in Roman numerals, e.g. XXIIJ rather than XXIII.
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