Boys’ Name Joe Gets Its Own Holiday
In the news, former Vice President Joe Biden is now the presumptive Democratic Party nominee for President, having won recent primaries in states such as Illinois and Florida. Interestingly enough, despite the name’s centuries of commonality, the US is yet to have a President Joe.
And viewers are riveted to the Netflix television series Tiger King, which tells the story of the Joe Exotic, jailed for animal abuse and murder-for-hire.
Contributing to Joe’s ubiquitous flavor is the enduring popularity of the name and its most common full form, Joseph. Joseph has always been in the US Top 20, dipping to its lowest point ever at #23 in the most recent year counted, 2018. It’s the seventh most popular name of all time in the US. We all know somebody named Joe — probably more than one.
Joe combines the best of modern simplicity and ancient roots. Its parent name Joseph derives from the Hebrew Yosef via the Greek and Latin Ioseph, meaning “he will increase.” Joseph is featured in the Bible three times over, 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, the name holds no ties to a single religion, and is widely used through the Western World.
Joseph variations have long been popular in Italy and Spain, where the Italian Giuseppe (which can be shortened to Beppe) and the Spanish Jose, with the diminutive Pepito, will sound familiar to American ears. But other languages have their take on Joseph as well. Unique cultural variations of Joseph include the Dutch Joop, the Irish Seosamh, and the Maori Hohepa.
Feminine versions 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 and less often, Josephine. As unisex names rise in popularity, Joey could become a more appealing option on its own. Young actress Joey King is a notable bearer.
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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on March 27th, 2012 at 12:55 am
That is a HORRIBLE picture of Joseph Smith. Seriously.
on March 27th, 2012 at 8:16 am
I know way too many Joe/Joey/Joseph’s to actually use it, but I read a book where the character went by Seph instead of Joseph. It really worked!
I do love Johanna a lot though!
on March 27th, 2012 at 8:29 am
I too love Joe. I don’t like Jo, however & my Josephine defaults to Josie. (she rotates through the rest of her nicknames on a weekly basis but will always answer to Josie as well).
We have a dear friend named Joseph, goes by Joey still, even though he’s 48. I have 12 cousins named Joseph, all named in honor of my crazy, coal miner Gagi. My Mother’s oldest sister was also Josephine in honor of Gagi.
A Joseph could be anything, &
I think Joseph is fabulous while of course, I love Josephine. What a great name! 😀
on March 27th, 2012 at 9:39 am
It remember me of Joey Tribbiani fictional character in Friends 🙂 I loved that show. My grandpa is named Jose, and so is one of my uncles, so I have some affection to that name too. 🙂
on March 27th, 2012 at 9:40 am
I agree, bad bad bad picture of Joseph Smith.
on March 27th, 2012 at 10:05 am
Joseph seems to be one of those names that you can have multiples in the family and it is okay.
Our family does that with Robert. There are so many Roberts!
on March 27th, 2012 at 10:27 am
My late grandfather was a Joseph who was called just Joe. No one ever called him anything else. My brother’s middle name is also Joseph. I think it’s a down-to-earth solid citizen kind of name that never goes out of style.
on March 27th, 2012 at 11:56 am
I like Joe. This seems like a rather worthless blog post, though, with all respect.
on March 27th, 2012 at 9:12 pm
My ex-husband was Joseph, called Joe.
I love the name Joseph, although I prefer the Catalan form Josep and the nn Pepe.
I also like Jossi, the Yiddish nn for Josef/Yosef and Joss, which is a nn for both Joseph and Josiah.
I don’t think this is a wasted blog, although it would have been nice if it had been posted on St Joseph’s Day.
on April 2nd, 2012 at 11:17 pm
With all the trendy baby names I keep hearing, Joe is music to my ears.
March Holidays | Holiday Favorites Said
on January 8th, 2015 at 9:37 pm
[…] National “Joe” Day Everyone who hates their name can be called Joe this day. […]
on March 27th, 2020 at 2:44 pm
There’s also Dr. Jo Harding (played by Helen Hunt) in the movie Twister, pretty cool character.
Pamela Redmond Said
on March 27th, 2020 at 4:45 pm
Happy National Joe Day!!
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