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Scriptsיוֹסֵף Ancient Hebrew
PronouncedPron.JO-səf English
ZHO-ZEF French
YO-zef German

Meaning & History

From Ioseph, the Latin form of Greek Ιωσηφ (Ioseph), which was from the Hebrew name יוֹסֵף (Yosef) meaning "he will add", from the root יָסַף (yasaf). In the Old Testament Joseph is the eleventh son of Jacob and the first with his wife Rachel. Because he was the favourite of his father, his older brothers sent him to Egypt and told their father that he had died. In Egypt, Joseph became an advisor to the pharaoh, and was eventually reconciled with his brothers when they came to Egypt during a famine. This name also occurs in the New Testament, belonging to Saint Joseph the husband of Mary, and to Joseph of Arimathea.

In the Middle Ages, Joseph was a common Jewish name, being less frequent among Christians. In the late Middle Ages Saint Joseph became more highly revered, and the name became popular in Spain and Italy. In England it became common after the Protestant Reformation. This name was borne by rulers of the Holy Roman Empire and Portugal. Other notable bearers include Polish-British author Joseph Conrad (1857-1924) and the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin (1878-1953).
VariantJosef German
DiminutivesJo, Joe, Joey, Jojo English Jo, Sepp, Seppel German
Feminine FormsJody, Josepha English Josée, Josèphe, Joséphine French Josepha German
Other Languages & CulturesYousef, Youssef, Yusef, Yusuf Arabic Youcef Arabic (Maghrebi) Hovsep Armenian Yusif Azerbaijani Joseba Basque Ioseph, Ioses Biblical Greek Yosef Biblical Hebrew Ioseph Biblical Latin Jusuf Bosnian Yosif Bulgarian Josep Catalan Ghjaseppu Corsican Josip, Joško, Joso, Jozo Croatian Josef Czech Josef Danish Josephus, Jozef, Jef, Joep, Joop, Joos, Joost, Jos, Sjef, Zef Dutch Jozefo, Joĉjo Esperanto Joosep Estonian Jooseppi, Juuso Finnish Xosé Galician Ioseb, Soso Georgian Iosif Greek Yosef Hebrew Josephus History József, Jóska, Józsi Hungarian Jusuf Indonesian Seosamh Irish Giuseppe, Beppe, Peppe, Peppi, Peppino, Pino Italian Iosephus Late Roman Jāzeps Latvian Juozapas, Juozas Lithuanian Josif Macedonian Hohepa Maori Josef Norwegian Josèp Occitan Yousef, Yusef Persian Józef Polish José, , Zezé Portuguese Iosif Romanian Iosif, Osip Russian Seòsaidh Scottish Josif Serbian Jozef Slovak Josip, Jožef, Jože Slovene José, Josepe, Pepe, Pepito Spanish Josef Swedish Yusuf Turkish Ýusup Turkmen Yosyp Ukrainian Yusup Uyghur Yussel Yiddish


Joseph Makes Himself Known to His Brothers, by Gustave Doré (1866)Joseph Makes Himself Known to His Brothers, by Gustave Doré (1866)


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Entry updated May 31, 2018   Contribute