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PronouncedPron.JAHN American English
JAWN British English

Meaning & History

English form of Iohannes, the Latin form of the Greek name Ιωαννης (Ioannes), itself derived from the Hebrew name יוֹחָנָן (Yochanan) meaning "YAHWEH is gracious", from the roots יוֹ (yo) referring to the Hebrew God and חָנַן (chanan) meaning "to be gracious". The Hebrew form occurs in the Old Testament (spelled Johanan or Jehohanan in the English version), but this name owes its popularity to two New Testament characters, both highly revered saints. The first is John the Baptist, a Jewish ascetic who is considered the forerunner of Jesus. He baptized Jesus and was later executed by Herod Antipas. The second is the apostle John, who is traditionally regarded as the author of the fourth gospel and Revelation. With the apostles Peter and James (his brother), he was part of the inner circle of Jesus.

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).
VariantsIan, Jon English Jan, Johan, Johannes, Jon Swedish Jan, Jens, Johan, Johannes, Jon Danish Jan, Johan, Johannes, Jon Norwegian
DiminutivesJohnie, Johnnie, Johnny English
Other Languages & CulturesDeshaun, Deshawn, Keshaun, Keshawn, Rashawn, Rashaun African American Gjon Albanian Yohannes Amharic Yahya, Yuhanna Arabic Hovhannes, Hovik, Hovo, Ohannes Armenian Xuan Asturian Ganix, Ion, Jon, Iban Basque Ivan, Yan Belarusian Ioannes Biblical Greek Yehochanan, Yochanan Biblical Hebrew Iohannes Biblical Latin Yann, Yanick, Yannic, Yannick Breton Ioan, Ivan, Yoan, Ivo, Vancho, Yanko Bulgarian Joan, Jan Catalan Jowan Cornish Ghjuvan, Ghjuvanni Corsican Ivan, Ivica, Ivo, Janko, Vanja Croatian Ivan, Jan, Honza, Janek Czech Jan, Johan, Johannes, Hanke, Hanne, Hannes, Hans, Jo, Joop Dutch Johano, Joĉjo Esperanto Jaan, Johannes, Juhan Estonian Jóannes, Jóhannes, Jón Faroese Jani, Janne, Johannes, Joni, Jouni, Juhana, Juhani, Hannes, Hannu, Juha, Juho, Jukka, Jussi Finnish Jean, Yann, Yoan, Yoann, Jeannot, Yanick, Yannic, Yannick French Xoán Galician Ioane, Ivane, Vano Georgian Jan, Johann, Johannes, Hannes, Hans, Jo German Giannis, Ioannis, Yannis, Yiannis, Gianni, Yanni, Yianni Greek Keoni Hawaiian Yochanan Hebrew Iván, János, Jancsi, Jani Hungarian Jóhann, Jóhannes, Jón Icelandic Yohanes Indonesian Eoin, Seán, Sean, Shane Irish Giovanni, Ivan, Ivano, Gian, Gianni, Giannino, Nino, Vanni Italian Johannes, Joannes Late Roman Jānis Latvian Sjang, Sjeng Limburgish Jonas Lithuanian Ivan, Jovan, Ivo, Vancho, Vančo Macedonian Ean, Juan Manx Hann, Jan, Jon, Hankin, Jackin, Jankin Medieval English Jehan Medieval French Zuan Medieval Italian Joan Occitan Yahya Persian Iwan, Jan, Janusz, Janek Polish João, Joãozinho Portuguese Ioan, Ion, Iancu, Ionel, Ionuț, Nelu Romanian Ioann, Ivan, Vanya Russian Juhán Sami Giuanne, Juanne Sardinian Eoin, Iain, Ian Scottish Ivan, Jovan, Ivica, Ivo, Janko, Vanja Serbian Ivan, Ján, Janko Slovak Ivan, Jan, Janez, Žan, Anže, Janko Slovene Jan Sorbian Iván, Juan, Ibán, Juanito Spanish Yahya Turkish Ivan Ukrainian Evan, Iefan, Ieuan, Ifan, Ioan, Iwan, Siôn, Ianto Welsh


Saint John the Evangelist, by Alonso Cano (1636)Saint John the Evangelist, by Alonso Cano (1636)
Icon depicting Saint John the BaptistIcon depicting Saint John the Baptist


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Entry updated May 31, 2018   Contribute