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Category: Josephine

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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berry

Back in February, a topic was posted on the Girls’ Names section of our Message Boards suggesting that people list their current Top Ten favorite names for girls, and it’s been running ever since.  What’s especially nice about this for us is that  it’s given Pam and me a fascinating look into the specific likes and loves of the nameberry community.  After all, for a long time, through our books and on the site,  you’ve gotten to know our opinions on both general categories of names and specific examples–and now the tables have been turned.

And we’re so gratified to see that we’re almost universally in synch (we’ll be dealing with dislikes and ‘heresies’ tomorrow), and that for the most part you love the names we love, affirming  to us that we have the most enlightened, most thoughtful, most tasteful, group of name lovers in existence.

Proof to us was in the pudding of names that showed up most frequently on your Top Ten lists, all possessing both substance and style.  So even though the thread is still alive, I couldn’t resist tallying up the Top Names of the Top Tens to date.

The most popular three are, in order:

BEATRIX

PENELOPE

CLEMENTINE

Followed by:

WILLOW and

DELILAH, and then:

ADELINE

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sweetadeline

Here at nameberry, we’ve been known to scrutinize trends down to a single letter (are V names in?) or syllable (la-beginnings) or sound (oo), as in Talllulah.  The other day, thinking about  the names that are emerging as as among the hottest for girls right now, I suddenly realized that several of them have something in common–and that is that they are all three-syllable names ending in the suffix ine:

ADELINE

CLEMENTINE

EMMELINE

EVANGELINE

GERALDINE

JOSEPHINE

OTTOLINE

This is a pattern that hasn’t been seen in the US for a long time–if you don’t count classics like Caroline and Madeline.  The ones that are feminizations of boys’ names, such as Geraldine and Ernestine, fell out of favor at a time when a) women didn’t want to be thought of as appendages of men even in their names, and b) the particular male names they derived from were sounding particularly fusty.

But this doesn’t seem like such a burning feminist issue these days, when many parents are  eager to honor their dads and forefathers as namesakes for their kids of either gender.  And besides–who knows?–names like Gerald and Ernest could make a return at any time.

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