Geneanet > Resources > Family Names > JOHN

Origin and popularity of the name JOHN


John : 1: English and Welsh: ultimately from the Hebrew personal name Yoḥanan ‘Jehovah has favored (me with a son)’ or ‘may Jehovah favor (this child)’. This personal name was adopted into Latin (via Greek) as Johannes and has enjoyed enormous popularity in Europe throughout the Christian era being given in honor of Saint John the Baptist precursor of Christ and of Saint John the Evangelist author of the fourth gospel as well as the nearly one thousand other Christian saints who bore the name. Some of the principal forms of the personal name in other languages are: Welsh Ieuan Evan Siôn and Ioan; Scottish Ia(i)n; Irish Séan; German Johann Johannes; Dutch and Slavic Jan; French Jean; Italian Giovanni; Spanish Juan; Portuguese João; Greek Iōannēs (vernacular Giannis Yannis); Russian Ivan. There were a number of different forms of the name in Middle English including Jan(e) a male name (see Jayne); Jen (see Jenkin); Jon(e) (see Jones); and Han(n) (see Hann). By the beginning of the 14th century John rivalled William in popularity and has always been a favorite name. Johan became Jo(h)n and another Old French form Jehan was shortened to Jan and Jen giving rise to Old French and Middle English diminutives such as Jonin Janin and Jenin. More common in Middle English were Jankin Jonkin and Jenkin which were Middle Dutch pet forms introduced after the Conquest by Flemish and Picard settlers. The most common pet form of John was Jack another borrowing from Flemish and Picard usage. Han may sometimes have been a short form of Johan but was more usually a pet form of Henry. There were also various Middle English feminine versions of this name (e.g. Joan Jehan) some of which were indistinguishable from masculine forms. The distinction on grounds of gender between John and Joan was not firmly established in English until the 17th century. It was even later that Jean and Jane were specialized as specifically female names in English; bearers of these surnames and their derivatives are more likely to derive them from a male ancestor than a female. As a surname in the British Isles John is particularly frequent in Wales where it is a late formation representing Welsh Siôn rather than the older form Ieuan (which gave rise to the surname Evan). In North America the English form of the surname has absorbed many cognates from other languages e.g. Assyrian/Chaldean Youkhana French Jean Hungarian János (see Janos) Slovenian Janež and Janeš (see Janes) Czech Jan Albanian Gjoni and their derivatives (see examples at Johnson). The name John is also found among Christians in southern India (compare Ninan and Yohannan) but since South Indians traditionally do not have hereditary surnames the southern Indian name was in most cases registered as such only after immigration of its bearers to the US.2: German: from a North German and Silesian variant of the personal name Johannes. This surname is also found in France (Alsace and Lorraine). Compare Yohn.


Source : DAFN2 : Dictionary of American Family Names 2nd edition, ©2022 by Patrick Hanks and Oxford University Press
FANBI : The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain, ©2021, University of the West of England
FANBI : The Oxford Dictionary if Family Names in Britain and Ireland, ©2016, University of the West of England

Subject to the Terms and Conditions of Ancestry

Last name frequency

Geographic distribution of the 125,413 individuals with the name JOHN on Geneanet.


Most found places for the name JOHN:

    This last name in the family trees

    See below the Geneanet members' family trees which contain the last name JOHN

    (822 individuals)
    (721 individuals)
    (690 individuals)
    (615 individuals)

    Search another name

    Search 8 billion individuals

    Search 8 billion individuals

    Search the name of your ancestors and your family in a database of 9 billion indexed individuals on Geneanet.

    Search JOHN

    Start your family tree

    Start your family tree

    Create your family tree and take advantage of valuable tips to help you search your ancestors.

    Start your family tree