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Happiness is just a thing called Jo

Happiness is just a thing called Jo

By Kelli Brady, of  Name Freak!

My middle name is Joyce. I absolutely love it, not only because it is after my beloved grandmother, but also because it is lovely, versatile, and has a delightful meaning. And while I think it is perfectly splendid as a first name, as many parents in the 1930s and 1940s did, I personally love it in the middle spot. It is short, sweet and lends itself to be even shorter for nicknames… Sammy Jo, Sarah Joy, D.J., etc.

My family has loved to play around with it as a middle name. Grandma was born Natalie Joyce, but her name was changed to Maxine after she was adopted. My great-grandparents kept Joyce as her middle name because she brought them joy. She was actually named after my great-grandfather, Max, but ended up going by Joyce her entire life. My mom is Debra Joyce, but has been called Debby Jo by family, and almost exclusively Jo or Joey by her siblings (and therefore subsequently called Aunt Jo by my cousins). I am often called Kelli Jo or K.J. by family. My daughter is Rachel Joyce, and while she is not around my extended family often, she is getting used to being referred to as Ray Jo when she is around them.

But enough about me.

Maybe because of my experience though, I have always seen Joe/Jo as a truly unisex name. It is simply masculine as well as beautifully tomboyish. As seen in Name-alytics, Jo is the shortest name to ever be in the girls’ Top 100; it reached #51 in 1947 and the highest in its popularity in the 1950s. Joe, on the other hand, reached its highest rank at #20 in 1880 and the highest in its popularity in the 1900s. Jo has been given to boys and Joe has been given to girls, so they are not mutually exclusive.

For the purposes of this post, however, I am going to concentrate on the girl Jo‘s. In looking at the names given over the years, there is a lot of love for the *jo*s. Let’s take a look at the options out there!

Names Ending in Jo (or cases when Jo can be given as a middle name)

There have been many names in the SSA database that have ended in “jo”, but we would more commonly see them as a combo or hyphenated name…

Amandajo

Kellyjo

Amberjo

Kristijo

Amyjo

Kyliejo

Annajo

Lillyjo

Barbarajo

Lindajo

Bettyjo

Lisajo

Billiejo

Lorijo

Bobbiejo

Margaretjo

Bonniejo

Maryjo

Caroljo

Nancyjo

Cathyjo

Patriciajo

Debrajo

Pattijo

Donnajo

Peggyjo

Ellajo

Rebeccajo

Emilyjo

Sallyjo

Emmajo

Samanthajo

Evajo

Sammyjo

Haileyjo

Sarahjo

Hannahjo

Shelbyjo

Kathyjo

Tammyjo

Katiejo

Taylorjo

Kayleejo

Terrijo

Other Great Combos

These are some first and middle combos that I’ve heard or thought sounded sweet…

Ada Joy

Louisa Joyce

Alexa Joy

Mila Joy

Arabella Joy

Molly Jo

Clara Joyce

Nora Joyce

Elsie Jo

Penelope Joyce

Everly Joyce

Stella Joyce

Finley Joy

Summer Joy

Harper Joy

Thea Joy

Hattie Jo

Violet Joyce

Isla Jo

Vivian Joy

Lorelei Jo

Wilhelmina Jo

If you are interested in celebrities who have used the wonderful Jo as a middle name for their babies, American volleyball player Gabrielle Reece has a daughter named Brody Jo, and musician John Cougar Mellencamp has a daughter named Teddi Jo.

What do you think of Jo? Would you use it by itself? Would you prefer to use any of its forms as a first name or a middle name?

Originally posted at NameFreak! on October 3, 2014 and revised for Nameberry.

About the Author

Kelli Brady

Kelli Brady is a stay at home mom of two who needed an outlet for her name obsession. She found it at NameFreak!, a blog dedicated to a wide variety of name-related whims and fancies. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter. Her eBook, Name-alytics, is a look at the history of the Top 100 names in the United States. Check it out at https://gumroad.com/l/name-alytics!