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Jane Name Meaning: Origin, Popularity & Nicknames

Learn about the name Jane including the meaning, gender, origin, popularity, and more.

Jane Overview

  • Meaning: Jane means “God is gracious.”
  • Gender: Jane is traditionally a female name.
  • Origin: Jane is an English name, but is based on the Old French name Jehanne. That comes from the Hebrew name Yochanan.
  • Pronunciation: Jane is pronounced, “JAYN.”
  • Popularity: Jane is always somewhat popular, and tends to stay in the top 500 baby names in the United States. It ranked 265th for girls in 2021.
  • Nicknames: Janee, Janey, Jani, Janie, Jany, and Jay.
  • Variations: Gianna, Hanna, Ioanna, Ivanna, Jaana, Janae, Janelle, Janes, Janet, Janete, Janina, Janne, Jean, Jeanette, Jehanne, Joan, Joanna, Johanna, Vanna, Yochanna.
  • Namesakes: Jane Austen (British author), Jane Fonda (American actress), Jane Seymour (British actress).

What Does Jane Mean?

Jane is a surprisingly ancient name. It means “God is gracious” or “God is merciful” (1).

Jane is a feminine version of the name John. John traces back to the Hebrew names Yochanan and Yehochanan, which both mean “Yahweh is gracious.” “Yah” is one name for God in Judaism, and “hanan” is a verb that means “to be gracious.”

What Is the Origin of the Name Jane?

Jane originates from the Hebrew boy’s name Yochanan. However, Yochanan was translated into several languages and introduced to a myriad of cultures before arriving at the name Jane.

Yochanan, which can also be spelled Yohanan, frequently appears in the Hebrew Bible. Yochanan became Ioannes. When Christians started reading the Bible in Latin, the Latinate version of the name, Joannes, became more common.

Between Joannes and the Old English Iohannes, English speakers eventually started using John (2).

In English, Joan is the common feminized version of John. However, during the 16th Century, English-speaking parents started wanting a more unique feminine version of John. They drew inspiration from the Old French feminine form of Joannes, Jehanne. Using English pronunciation and spelling norms, the name Jehanne then became Jane.

How Popular Is the Name Jane?

Generally, Jane and Joan tend to alternate in popularity during different eras. Over the last hundred years, Jane has maintained relatively consistent popularity, always staying within the top 500 most popular baby girl names in the United States (3).

The most recent popularity peak was in 1946 when Jane was the 35th most popular girl name in the United States. Since the mid-20th Century, Jane has gradually declined in popularity. However, there has been a slight increase in favor of the name in the past decade. It held the 265th spot in 2021.

How Do I Pronounce the Name Jane?

The name Jane is pronounced, “JAYN.” It should rhyme with the word “rain.”

Is Jane a Boy or Girl Name

Traditionally, Jane is a girl’s name as it is the feminine version of the male name John. However, some people do choose to use it as a masculine or gender-neutral name.

Variations of Jane

Since Jane is the feminine version of John, there are many variations from different cultures and languages. Variations of the name Jane include:

  • Gianna (Italian)
  • Hanna (Dutch)
  • Ioanna (Greek)
  • Ivanna (Slavic)
  • Jaana (Finnish)
  • Janae (English)
  • Janelle (English)
  • Janes (Danish)
  • Janet (English)
  • Janete (Portuguese)
  • Janina (Polish)
  • Janne (Norwegian)
  • Jean (English)
  • Jeanette (French)
  • Jehanne (French)
  • Joan (English)
  • Joanna (English)
  • Johanna (Danish, Dutch, German)
  • Vanna (Italian)
  • Yochanna (Hebrew)

Nicknames for Jane

In the many years that Jane has been a name, there have been several common nicknames. Examples of nicknames for Jane are:

  • Jan
  • Janee
  • Janey
  • Jani
  • Janie
  • Jany
  • Jay
  • Jayni

Similar Names to Jane

If you are looking for a name similar to Jane, consider one that is short and shares comparable aesthetic qualities. Possible options could be:

  • Jackie
  • Jada
  • Jade
  • Jamie
  • Jayce
  • Jayda
  • Jenny
  • Jewel
  • Jolie
  • Josie
  • Joy
  • Joyce
  • Judy
  • Julia
  • Julie
  • Juno
  • Justine

Middle Names for Jane

When choosing a middle name for Jane, it can be a good idea to pick a slightly longer name to create some balance. Middle name ideas for Jane include:

Sibling Names for Jane

Jane is a classic name that makes it easy to find sibling names that pair well with it, such as:

For a brother:

For a sister:

Famous People Named Jane

The name Jane has a long history, and there have been many famous people named Jane, from renowned novelists to legendary actresses:

  • Calamity Jane: American sharpshooter.
  • Jane Addams: American social worker and co-founder of Hull House.
  • Jane Austen: British novelist noted for works such as “Pride and Prejudice” and “Emma.”
  • Jane Fonda: American Actress.
  • Jane Goodall: English primatologist.
  • Jane Krakowski: American actress.
  • Jane Lynch: British actress.
  • Jane Seymour: Queen of England and wife of King Henry VIII.
  • Jane Seymour: British actress.
  • Lady Jane Gray: Queen of England in 1553.

Jane in Popular Culture

The name Jane appears quite often in popular culture. Some examples of fictional characters named Jane include:

  • Jane Banks: Character in “Mary Poppins.”
  • Jane Bennett: Character in “Pride and Prejudice.”
  • Jane Eyre: Titular character in the novel “Jane Eyre.”
  • Jane Foster: Character in Marvel Comics.
  • Jane Jetson: Character in “The Jetsons.”
  • Jane Lane: Character in the animated series “Daria.”

Jane FAQs

Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the name Jane.

Is Jane a Biblical Name?

Jane is a name that originates from the Hebrew language. The name John, from which Jane comes, is used several times in the Christian Bible. John the Evangelist and John the Baptist are both prominent biblical figures.

Is Jane an Old-Fashioned Name?

Jane first gained popularity in the mid-16th Century when English speakers wanted an alternative to Joan. However, that does not make it old-fashioned. Jane is a timeless name evocative of the past, present, and future.

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