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Category: Joe

Happy National Joe Day!

joecool

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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When Siblings Get Into the Baby-Naming Act

harry-potter-chamber-of-secrets

I had my three children over 11 years, and of all the disadvantages of spreading your kids that far apart, one of the biggest is that the older kids will insist on having a say in their baby brother or sister’s name.

When we found out our youngest child would be a boy, my husband and I were delighted that we had a name all ready for him: Edward, to be called Ned.  That had been our second-choice name for our older son, whom I insisted on naming Joseph after my dad.  But my husband and I both loved Edward and Ned, and we were thrilled and relieved to be set with our name.

Not so fast, said our older children.  Any kid named Ned, they claimed, would be sure to be called Nerd in the playground.  They weren’t too fond of the name either.  In fact, they said, if we named him Ned, they already knew they weren’t going to like him.

Sigh.  We couldn’t very well give the baby a name his older siblings hated, so we went back to the drawing board.  Luckily, my husband and I quickly found another name we both loved: Harry.

Even Harry Potter couldn’t sell our kids on that name.  No, they said.  If Ned was a nerd, Harry was “hairy.”

Well, we asked, what did they think we should name the baby?  Our son Joe, who was three at the time, loved the name Jim — but as a name book author I thought I would never to be able to tell interviewers I’d named my own sons the oh-so-plain pair of Jim and Joe.  That was like being a fashion editor and dressing in head-to-toe Gap.   Joe‘s next best idea: Rainbow Boy.

All I remember after that was holding my newborn son in my arms in the hospital, the other children at my bedside, still debating his name.  Finally we came up with Owen, my grandfather’s middle name and one that we all at least agreed on.  My husband and I hated giving up the names Ned and Harry.  But as difficult as it can be to arrive at a name two of you love, it can be almost impossible to please four people.

Did any of you have older children who had strong opinions about the baby’s name?  How did you consider their ideas and did you end up taking their advice?  We’d love to hear!

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2008 Names of the Year

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What are the names that gained the most attention this year, symbolizing how far we’ve come and where we’re heading next?   The election, of course, figured heavily in deciding on the most influential names of 2008, as did popular culture and the economy.  Here are our top ten picks for the Names of the Year.

1.    BARACKHow did an obscure Hebrew/Arabic/Swahili name that means thunderbolt, lightning, and/or blessing come to inspire a wave of baby namesakes?  The same way a self-professed “skinny black kid with a funny name” came to be the 44th president of the United States.  Barack is exactly the kind of singular, ethnic, family name that the next generation of parents is bound to celebrate.

2.    MILEY – It may be Destiny (which was her original given name) that little Miley Cyrus adopted the nickname given to her by her father Billy Ray because she was so smiley, which, thanks to the stupendous success of Hannah Montana, has become one of the fastest rising girl’s names, debuting on the popularity charts at number 278.  Over 2,000 baby girls were named Miley, Mylee or Mylie in the last year counted, and boy cousins Milo and Miles are also climbing the charts.

3.    JOEJoe – the Plumber, Six-Pack, and Biden – was 2008’s Everyman, hailed and scorned by candidates on both sides of the election.  The ultimate good guy name, Joe is short for Joseph – an important figure in both the Old and New Testaments – which has been among the Top 15 Boy’s Names since the Social Security Administration started keeping records in 1880.  It was rarely mentioned that the real Joe the Plumber’s name was actually Sam.

4.    RUBY – A new generation of hip mamas and cool dads has given rise to a whole new class of Hipster Baby Names: quirky choices long dormant and only now revived by adventurous baby namers bent on making parenthood and babies stylish.  Tops on the hipster favorites list, along with Ruby, are such choices as Oscar, Matilda, Rufus, and Sadie.

5.    EDWARD – The alluring vampire hero of Stephenie Myers’ Twilight series has single-handedly turned the slightly awkward, old-fashioned classic Edward into an unlikely candidate for the hottest, edgiest name in town.

6.    TRIG — Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin was a maverick baby namer, with the choices she made for her five children receiving nearly as much attention as her wardrobe and her televised gaffes.  Place names with personal meaning figured heavily in Palin‘s choices, with oldest son Track named for his parents’ love of running, daughters Bristol and Willow named for favorite Alaska places, and Piper chosen because, according to First Dude Todd Palin, “it was a cool name.” Infant son Trig‘s name is Norse for “strength” and middle name Paxson is another Alaska place name.

7.    JANUARY-  As Betty Draper, the heroine of the TV hit Mad Men set in the early 1960s,  gorgeous actress January Jones introduced her own thoroughly modern name that straddles old and new, a perfect choice as we enter a new age of Camelot.  January is also representative of a whole calendar-related genre of names, such as Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban’s little girl Sunday Rose and such newly-stylish choices as May, June, August, and Winter.

8.    BRONX- – The Crazy Starbaby Name of the Year Award goes to – no contest — Bronx Mowgli, newborn son of rockers Ashlee Simpson and Pete Wentz.  But Bronx—as opposed to the popular Brooklyn– is about as likely to catch on with non-celebrity baby namers as Kipling-Disney middle name Mowgli.

9.    SASHA- Everyone’s making a fuss over the names of older Obama daughter Malia and power-named mom Michelle, but we think Sasha is more worthy of being a Name of the Year.  In the second First Daughter’s case, Sasha is short for Natasha.  Russian names have quickly gone from heavy-footed to fashionable, thanks to the cadre of long-legged supermodels who’ve imported them to Western Europe and the U.S.  Usually a male nickname for Alexander, it was spelled Sascha by Jessica and Jerry Seinfeld, who used it for their daughter.

10.    CASH—The economy’s tanked and we’re cutting up our credit cards, so where should we turn but to Cash, the baby name choice of almost a thousand parents last year.  It has celebrity cred via Cash (real name) Warren, inamorata of Jessica Alba and baby-daddy of Honor Marie, and as son of actress Annabeth Gish.

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In Praise of Regular Guy Names

Fred

When I heard yesterday that former child star (I bet she hates that) Mayim Bialik had named her baby boy Fred (only to discover later in the day that it was actually Frederick) I must admit a warm comfy feeling swept over me.  Fred, I thought, what a great name!  And not just because it wasn’t yet another day-of-the-week name or a South American capital city name or an invented name starting with X–I’ve learned to adjust to those names over the years to the point where I can honestly say nice things about (some of) them and mean it.

It’s just that there’s something about Fred.  And Frank and George and Joe, and even Ralph–something so straightforward and honest and unfashiony and I have nothing to prove about them, it’s like the honking traffic suddenly comes to a halt for a minute on the naming superhighway and time stands still and dads are still smoking pipes and going bowling every Thursday night.  It’s probably  why so many pressured parents have named their kids Jack and Henry over the past few years–except that by trying to escape the trendy they unintentionally established a couple of trends of their own.

A few celebs have more successfully tried this path as a detour around the cleverness competition by choosing names like George (Kristen Scott Thomas, Eva Herzigova) and Frank (Diana Krall & Elvis Costello), Joe (Kate Winslet), and Ralph (Matthew McFayden)–except that, being British, it might be pronounced Rafe, thereby destroying my whole premise.

Strangely enough, I can’t think of any female names that produce quite the same feeling.  Classics like Margaret and Virginia are too buttoned-up, others like Ann and Jean are more cool than warm and fuzzy.

No, it’s definitely a guy thing.

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