Classic Boy Names: John’s Extended Family
By Linda Rosenkrantz
Let’s say you come from a family that has an abundance of male members named John—unsurprising for a name that for four centuries ruled as the Number 1 boys’ Christian name and is still in the US Top 30 with one of its nicknames, Jack, almost as high. And there’s one particular John you want to honor, yet you’re not keen on your son being John IV or one of seven cousin Jacks or eight Jacksons. Well, here are 30 plus related names from around the world that would still pay tribute to Grandpa John.
Evan—Welsh variation, now gender fluid, with a soft, pleasant image. Actor/singer Evan Ross is the son of Diana Ross, and Bruce Springsteen named a son Evan, which was as high as #35 for boys in the US in 2009 and is 45 in Ireland. Ifon is another Welsh form of John, Sion (pronounced SHON) yet another and Bevan means son of Evan.
Gianni—The Italian equivalent of Johnny, diminutive of Giovanni, sometimes used on its own. Gianni Mastropietro is the son of actress Jill Hennessy. Gianni ranks at #528 in the US, after entering the list in 1997.
Hans—A readily importable German, Dutch and Scandinavian diminutive of Johannes, familiar to all since childhood via Hans Brinker and Hans Christian Andersen, not to mention Hans and Franz on SNL. It lingered on the US list until 1998. Diminutive Hansel is too tied to sister Gretel,
Ian—This simplified Scottish version has had a much stronger presence in the US, now ranking at #76 and 92 on Nameberry. After being introduced to Americans by Ian Fleming, creator of James Bond, it’s been steadily in the Top 100 ever since, thanks to its jaunty charm. Contemporary bearers include actor Ian McKellan and novelist Ian McEwan, and there have been Ians on Shameless, Criminal Minds and Pretty Little Liars.
Ivan—This Russian form of John is one Slavic name that has been fully assimilated into the American name-bank, found on the SSA list every year since records have been kept. It’s currently #135 in the US. Ivans figure in many of the great Russian works by Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Chekhov and others, and real-life notables range from Writer Turgenev to tennis star Lendl. Great nicknames include Vanya, Vanni, Van, Vanusha ,Vanka, Ive and Ivie. For historical reference, better to think of Ivan the Great than Ivan the Terrible.
Jan—Pronounced yahn, as opposed to Brady Bunch Jan, the classic Dutch version of John is pandemic across many parts of Europe, though it fell off the US list a decade ago. Flemish Old Master painters Breughel and van Eyck bore the name. Variations include the Polish Janek, the Slovak/Czeck Janos and the Serbian Ivo, Jovan and Janko.
Jock –The Scottish take on Jack, Jock has nothing to do with sports but is used as a generic name for a Scotsman. A prominent bearer was Jock (born John) Whitney, multi-millionaire publisher and US Ambassador to the UK.
Johan, Johann—This Old-World German version (Bach’s name is spelled with the double n), ranks at a surprisingly high #501 in the US. Heidi Klum and Seal named their son Johan Riley Fyodor Taiwo in 2006. Johannes is a Latin form used in Germany, Netherlands, and Scandinavia, associated with many great cultural figures, from Brahms to Vermeer. It’s currently #27 in Norway and has made its way onto the Nameberry 900s.
Juan—Ubiquitous across the Spanish-speaking world and familiar to all ethnicities via cultural icons like Don Juan and tons of sports figures, Juan currently ranks at #137 in the US (down from 46 in 1999) and is 27th in Spain.
Sean—Familiar to all, Sean has long been an American favorite. It entered the US list in 1943, was in the Top 100 from 1965 to 2009, peaking at #33 in 1972, and now occupies the 251st spot, replaced by fresher sounding Irish names for boys like Liam and Finn.