Happiness is just a thing called Jo
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!
There are several names that can be shortened to Jo:
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…
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?
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on October 22nd, 2014 at 6:17 am
My name is Jo!! Well, it’s actually Josephine, but I go almost exclusively by Jo! I adore Jo, it’s short and sweet, and I was named after Jo March from Little Women. I have never met another a Jo (or Joe), and I constantly get compliments on my name. My DH’s middle name is Joseph, so Jo is extra special to us too.
on October 22nd, 2014 at 6:57 am
Love Jovienne or Jovianne too.
on October 22nd, 2014 at 4:37 pm
She forgot Johannah 🙂
on October 22nd, 2014 at 10:41 pm
This is a good post. My sister is a Josephine, nn Jo. I prefer that nickname over Josie—Jo seems more flexible to me.
on November 10th, 2014 at 11:38 am
My niece Joanna goes by Jo. My sister had always intended to call her by her full name, but Jo’s older brother, 22 months old when she was born, couldn’t say Joanna – he actually called her Baby Doe for a while. Now she’s Jo to everyone, and no one can imagine calling her anything else. It’s such a spunky nickname and fits her perfectly.
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