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Gender: F Meaning of Joan: "God is gracious" Origin of Joan: English variation of Johanna

Popularity: this week.

Joan was the perfect name choice for one of the leading characters on Mad Men, being a quintessential girls' name of the period. A Top 10 name in the 30s, a Top 50 name from the 40s through the early 60s, it was the fifth most popular name in the country for three years running. But alas, Joan hasn't even appeared in the Top 1,000 for a dozen years, and these days it's primarily associated with Joans of the generation of Joan Crawford, Joan Collins and Joan Rivers--just a few of the noted Joans whose ranks also include the singers Joan Sutherland, Joan Baez, Joan Armatrading and Joan Jett. But it's possible that modern parents who are reviving Jane might move on to Joan, inspired by Joan Hollaway Harris.

The first English bearer of the name was Henry II's daughter, Jhone, but the modern spelling was soon established, which is why Saint Jeanne d'Arc was translated as Joan, making her the most illustrious wearer of the name. By Shakespeare's time, Joan had become so overused that it was ripe for replacement by the newly coined Jane, the reverse of what happened in twentieth-century America.

Some livelier foreign versions of Joan include Giovanna, Siobhan, Ione and Juana.

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Famous People Named Joan

Joan Crawford, American actress
Joan Fontaine, American actress
Joan Plowright, English actress
Joan Rivers, American comedian
Joan Jett, American musician
Joan Didion, American author
Joan Ganz Cooney, American TV producer; creator of Sesame Street
St. Joan of Arc, French heroine
Joan Armatrading, West Indies born British singer
Joan Baez, American folk singer, songwriter, musician & philanthropist
Joan Collins, British actress
Joan Allen, American actress
Joan Cusack, American actress
Joan Plowright, British actress and widow of Laurence (Lord) Olivier
Joan Sutherland, Australian soprano
Melissa Joan Hart, American actress
Joan Smalls (Rodriguez), Puerto Rican supermodel
Joan of Kent, "The Fair Maid of Kent," medieval English princess
Joan Letitia "Joanne Dru" LaCock, American film & TV actress

Pop Culture References for the Name Joan

Joan Harris (nee Holloway), "Mad Men"
"Little Jumping Joan" of the nursery rhyme
Joan Campbell played by Kari Matchett, "Covert Affair"s
"Joan of Arcadia," TV series
Joan Watson (based on John Watson), from "Elementary"
Joan, from the movie "The Way Way Back"
Pope Joan

Joani, Joanie, Jonee, Jonette, Joni

Joan's International Variations

Jone (Basque) Siobhán (Irish Gaelic) Seonag (Scottish Gaelic) Sion (Welsh)