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Happy National Joe Day!

What a holiday!  On March 27th, if you don’t like your name, you can call yourself Joe….or Jo.

And why not?  Joe is one of the friendliest, most down-to-earth, and (in our opinion) most appealing names around.

I suppose I’m speaking for myself (it’s Pam), rather than taking an Official Nameberry Position.  I come from a long line of Joes – my father and grandfather were both named Joe – and I named my son Joe too, partly in honor of them but mostly because I love the name.

Despite the sophistication of many of the name tastes on Nameberry, and many of my personal name tastes as well, I see Joe as combining the best of modern simplicity and ancient roots. The modern Joseph derives from the Hebrew Yosef and the Greek and Latin Ioseph, meaning “he will increase.”

The name Joseph appears in both the Old and New Testaments. The Old Testament Joseph was the eleventh and favorite son of Jacob, exiled by his jealous brothers to Egypt, where he became an advisor to the pharaoh.The best-known New Testament Joseph was, of course, the carpenter husband of the Virgin Mary, but Joseph of Arimathea was a wealthy disciple who had Jesus buried in his own tomb.In the Middle Ages, the name Joseph was used mostly by Jews, though as the veneration of St. Joseph increased, his name increasingly became used by Christians.

Today, Joseph is used through the Western World.  Familiar variations include the Italian Giuseppe (which can be shortened to Beppe) and the Spanish Jose, with the diminutive Pepito.   But there’s also the Dutch Joop, the Irish Seosamh, and the Maori Hohepa.

Feminine variations include the lovely Josephine and the more obscure Josepha and Josette.  While Joanna and Joanne have often been used to honor ancestral Josephs, and can be shortened to Jo, they actually derive from John.

Joey of course is a common short form of Joseph, though some people (i.e. me) don’t like that.  My preference is Joe.

Joseph has always been in the US Top 20, dipping to its lowest point ever at #20 in the most recent year counted, 2010.  It’s the seventh most popular name of all time in the US.

Joe slang includes: cup of Joe (coffee), used from the 1940s; Regular or Average Joe; G.I. Joe; and Joe the Plumber. There’s Joe Cool, Joe Camel, and even a one-named R & B singer named Joe.

Famous Joes (and Josephs and Jos) include world rulers, athletes, and stars.  Here, our favorite iconic Josephs, Joes, Josephines and Josies.

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Biblical Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

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