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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

Saint Joan of Arc, French national heroine
Joan, Princess of Wales and Lady of Snowdon
Joan of Kent, "The Fair Maid of Kent," Princess of Wales
Joan Crawford (born Lucille Fay LeSueur), American actress
Joan Fontaine, American actress
Joan Ann Plowright, Baroness Olivier, English actress
Joan Alexandra Rivers, American comedienne
Joan Marie Jett, American musician
Joan Didion, American author
Joan Ganz Cooney, American TV producer; creator of Sesame Street
Joan Anita Barbara Armatrading, Kittitian-British singer
Joan Chandos Baez, American singer-songwriter
Joan Henrietta Collins, English actress and novelist
Joan Allen, American actress
Joan Cusack, American actress
Joan Alston Sutherland, Australian operatic soprano
Melissa Joan Hart, American actress
Joan Smalls (Rodriguez), Puerto Rican supermodel
Joan Letitia LaCock, birth name of American actress Joanne Dru
Joan Benoit Samuelson, American Olympic marathoner
(Beatrice) Joan Caulfield, American actress
Joan Bogle Hickson, English actress
Joan Alison Turner Jara, British-Chilean dancer, widow of dancer Victor Jara
(Virginia) Joan Bennett Kennedy, wife of U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy
Joan Marie Laurer aka Chyna, American pro wrestler and actress
Joan Lindsay, Lady Lindsay, Australian novelist
Joan Orenstein, British-Canadian actress
Joan Beaufort, Countess of Westmorland
Joan Olivia Wyndham, English memoirist
Joan Shakespeare, sister of William Shakespeare

Pop Culture References for the Name Joan

Joan, mythical female pope
Joan Holloway Harris, character on TV's "Mad Men"
Joan Campbell, character on TV's "Covert Affairs"
Joan Watson, character on TV's "Elementary"
Joan, character in movie "The Way Way Back"
Joan Girardi, main character on TV's "Joan of Arcadia"
"Little Jumping Joan," nursery rhyme

Joani, Joanie, Jonee, Jonette, Joni

Joan's International Variations

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