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Names beginning with J

October 9, 2019

At this time of year I get sent lists of the new students on the Open University courses I teach. We’re talking about a hundred-plus names here. I was struck, and not for the first time, how many English first names, for both men and women, begin with the letter J. And what’s more, they include the most common names.

Here’s what I mean. Let’s start with the women (including diminutives): Jane, Jean, Joan, June (if only there was a Jine, that would take care of all 5 vowels). Jacqueline (Jackie). Janet. Janice. Jasmine. Jennifer. (Jen, Jenny). Jessica (Jess). Jezebel. Jill. (Jilly). Joanna. Josephine. (Jo.) Judith (Judy). Julia. Julie. Juliet. Julia-Anne. Justine.

And now for the guys: Jacob (Jake). Jack. Jago. James (Jim, Jimmy, Jamie). Jared. Jason. Jeffrey (Jeff). Jeremy (Jerry). Jeremiah.  John (Johnny). Jonah. Jonas. Jonathan (Jonty). Jordan. Joseph (Joe, Joey). Joshua (Josh). Jude. Julian. Justin.

Now, maybe you could do that with any initial; yet the point about the J’s is that so many of them are popular names, classic names, and in many cases Biblical names. Does any one know if there is a reason for this?

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3 Comments
  1. Holly F permalink

    Because Jehovah! And at one point Biblical J names were pronounced like a Y. Yehowah (Jehovah, but don’t step on the J tile as per Indiana Jones). Yeshwa (Joshua and possible original name for Jesus). Yerimah (guess as Jeremiah). Yozef (common middle easterner form of Joseph). Yonah (Jonah possibilty) Etc.for men
    Or Yeshvel (Jezebel) . Yeshkah (Jessica with kah being a diminutive). Yazmeen (middle eastern version of Jasmine). Yochannah (Joanna with Hannah the palindrome incorporated into it using the Hebrew guttural/glottal “ch” for the beginning of Hannah) Etc for women.
    Middle Eastern languages bring a lot of light to the J names.

    • Thank you, Holly.

      • Holly F permalink

        I know. Your question was probably rhetorical, but I couldn’t resist, being interested in the etymology of names and all.

        I love your blog. You and I share many of the same thoughts on the English language though we live on opposite sides of the pond.

        I’m amazed at how many native English speakers can’t write it out properly: all the grammar, spelling, syntax, diction, et al has been ruined by the lack of concern in the school systems (here in the USA anyway) and texting abbreviations and shortcuts haven’t helped much. I constantly see misspellings and the wrong forms of words (your and you’re; or there, their, and they’re; or the worst ones: would of, could of, and should of). Clearly, students are not being drilled enough on contractions and homonyms.
        When someone uses incorrect language either verbally or written, I correct them aloud and, consequently, get on their nerves.

        Keep up your fascinating blog posts. I definitely learned something new about pints in glasses or jugs.

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