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Happy National Joe Day!

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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 Names: From The Baby Name Bible

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When we finally finished researching and writing our encyclopedic name book, the day came when we had to decide what to call it. (The working title of Big Baby Name Book just wasn’t going to cut it.)

This turned out to be almost as laborious a task as writing the book. Dozens and dozens of lists of possibilities were emailed back and forth. Our book editor and even our agent entered the fray, offering their own suggestions. (We actually chronicled this painful process in an article we wrote for Publishers Weekly magazine, called Naming the Name Book.) We finally settled on The Baby Name Bible because, well, we hoped people would make it their baby naming bible.

It never entered our minds that some people would take it literally as a book of biblical names. But on our earlier, smaller website, before nameberry was born–babynamebible.com– many visitors did come to search solely for Old and New Testament names. And of course they found them, but a lot more besides.

Biblical names have a long history in this country. They came to colonial America with the early Puritans, who scrutinized the Good Book for names of righteous figures, believing that such names could shape the character of their offspring, and often using extreme examples, like Zelophehad and Zerubbabel. Over the centuries and decades since then, there has been a steady stream of biblical names: individual Old Testament examples, in particular, have drifted in and out of fashion, for both boys and girls.

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Christmas Baby Names: More, please!

elfbaby

Last week our guest blogger Elisabeth Wilborn offered a great yuletide menu of names that was both inclusive and imaginative, covering all the bases from religious to seasonal to spiritual.  At the risk of being accused of overkill, I thought I’d offer a few quirkier ideas, which are tied less directly to the holiday.

One of them is to look at some first and last names that have appeared in classic Christmas movies, ranging from the vintage It’s a Wonderful Life to the more recent Elf. Some examples:

BAILEY ……..It’s a Wonderful Life

BELLE ………A Christmas Carol

CLAIRE …….Scrooged

CLARENCE ..It’s a Wonderful Life

DUDLEY ……Christmas in Connecticut

ELIOT ……….Scrooged

FAN ………….A Christmas Carol

FELIX ……….Christmas in Connecticut

FRED ……….Miracle on 34th Street

GEORGE ……It’s a Wonderful Life

JACOB ………A Christmas Carol

JEFFERSON ..Christmas in Connecticut

JOVIE ………..Elf

MARLEY …….A Christmas Carol

PRESTON …..Scrooged

RALPH ……….A Christmas Story

TIM …………..A Christmas Carol

VIOLET ……..It’s a Wonderful Life

ZUZU ………..It’s a Wonderful Life

Another possibility, even more of a stretch, could be various shades of the Christmas colors, red and green:

ALIZARIN

BERYL

CARMINE

CELADON

CRIMSON

EMERALD

JADE

NILE

SCARLET

VERDE

VIRIDIAN

Then, in addition to the Cedar and Pine that Elisabeth mentioned, there are several other Christmas tree names:

BALSAM

CAROLINE

CYPRESS

DOUGLAS

FRASER

SAPPHIRE

SPRUCE

VIRGINIA

And finally Christmas-season baby namers can consider one of the more exotic variations of Mary or Joseph:

MAIRE

MAIRI

MALIA

MANON

MARIELLE

MARIETTE

MARIKA

MARISKA

MARJAN

MIRJAM

MITZI

MOIRA

or

GIUSEPPE

JOOSEF

JOSE

JOSEBA

JOSEF

JOZA

JOZIO

Oh, and what about Santa‘s reindeer’s names?  Where did those funky names come from?  It seems that the Night Before Christmas poet Clement C. Moore gave a lot of thought to his choices,  picking names that imply speed, grace, power, and strength.  We wouldn’t recommend Donner or Blitzen or Prancer.  Comet, Cupid, Vixen–barely possible.  A little more conceivable: Dasher and Dancer.

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