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Jean Name Meaning (Origin, Popularity & Nicknames)

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

Jean Overview

  • Meaning: Jean is the French equivalent to John and the English or Scottish version of Jane, all meaning “God (or Yahweh) is gracious.” It can also mean “Yahweh is merciful” or “God’s grace.”
  • Gender: Jean is unisex but is more traditional for girls since Gene is the English male spelling. Jean is still used for boys in French-speaking countries.
  • Origin: Jean is based on the Old French Jehan or Jehanne as the female Joan, Jane, and the male John. It’s linked to the Latin Johannes, Greek Ioannes, and Hebrew Yochanan, meaning “Yahweh is Gracious.”
  • Pronunciation: Jean is pronounced “JEEN” in English and “ZHAEN” in French.
  • Popularity: Jean peaked at 12th in the U.S. in 1926 and ranked in the top 1,000 – 1,400 U.S. girls’ names in recent years. It also recently ranked 100th for girls in France.
  • Nicknames: Jeanee, Jean Jean, Jeanni, Jeannie, Jee, Jenny, Jessie, Jey, JJ.
  • Variations: Jana, Janeczka, Janes, Janete, Janica, Janka, Janne, Jayne, Jeane, Jeanna, Jeanne, Jeen, Jenka, Jenne, Jinn, Joan, Kini, Siân, Síne, Zhanna.
  • Namesakes: Jean Harlow, American actress called the “Blonde Bombshell.”Jean Reno, French actor known for the film “Léon: The Professional” (1994).

What Does Jean Mean?

Jean is traditionally a French variation of the English John. It stems from the Old French Jehanne and the Greek Iohannes. These versions of John date back to the original Hebrew Yochanan, meaning “God is gracious.”

Jean is more commonly used for girls as an English and Scottish form of Jane, the female equivalent of John. Both gendered versions mean “Yahweh is merciful.” A similar meaning includes “God’s grace” and extends to similar names like Séan or Shóna.

What Is the Origin of the Name Jean?

Jean is the French equivalent of John for boys and the English and Scottish equivalent of Jane for girls. It derives from the Old French Jehan or Jahan. Jane also relates to other similar female names, including Joan and Jeanne (from the Old French Jehanne).

The Latin version of John is Johannes, while the Greek is Ioannes. Jean is associated with the Hebrew Yochanan, which is the original variation of John, meaning “Yahweh is Gracious.”

Jean appeared as the Old French Jehanne during the Middle Ages, though it has significantly decreased in popularity since then. It’s still somewhat common for girls in Scotland and England, especially after the 19th-century.

How Popular Is the Name Jean?

In the last century, Jean generally ranked in the top 100 names in the U.S. In the second half of the 20th-century, Jean became more popular as a middle name for American girls. Jean peaked at 12th in the U.S. in 1926 and was the most popular until the early 1930s.

Despite Gene usually representing the male spelling of Jean, the “J” spelling is more popular for boys in the U.S. post-1990. Jean ranked in the top 1,000 – 1,400 U.S. girls’ names in recent years, yet ranked 100th for girls in France in the last few years.

How Do I Pronounce Jean?

Jean is pronounced “JEEN” in English and “ZHAEN” in French.

Is Jean a Boy or Girl Name?

Jean is officially a unisex name, although it is usually preferred for girls. Gene is typically the English male spelling. In France, Jean is still the preferred spelling for boys.

Variations of Jean

Because Jean is based on Joan and Jane, many unique variations exist:

  • Jana (Polish)
  • Janeczka (Polish)
  • Janes (Swedish)
  • Janete(Portuguese)
  • Janica(Romanian)
  • Janka (German)
  • Janne (Finnish)
  • Jayne (English)
  • Jeane (English)
  • Jeanna (English)
  • Jeanne (French)
  • Jeen (English)
  • Jenka (Czech)
  • Jenne (Dutch)
  • Jinn (Celtic)
  • Joan (English)
  • Kini (Hawaiian)
  • Siân (Welsh)
  • Síne (Irish)
  • Zhanna (Russian)

Nicknames for Jean

Jean can be a nickname for Jeannette or Janet, but it also has a few cool nicknames of its own:

  • Jeanee
  • Jean Jean
  • Jeanni
  • Jeannie
  • Jee
  • Jenny
  • Jessie
  • Jey
  • JJ

Similar Names to Jean

There are many classy and short feminine names out there similar to Jean:

Middle Names for Jean

Jean may need a fanciful middle name to stand out properly:

Sibling Names for Jean

Jean’s brothers and sisters can also shine with these cool sibling names:

Famous People Named Jean

Both men and women named Jean have found fame the world over:

  • Jean Adam: Scottish poet known for “There’s Nae Luck Aboot the Hoose.”
  • Jean Brankart: Belgian bicycle racer who competed in the 1955 Tour de France.
  • Jean Carn: American singer of R&B, soul, and jazz.
  • Jean Fuller: American minority leader in the California State Senate.
  • Jean Hagen: American actress in “Singin’ in the Rain” (1952).
  • Jean López: American Taekwondo athlete competing at the 1995 Taekwondo World Championships.
  • Jean Maciel: Brazilian footballer for HKFC.
  • Jean Marsh: English actress known for the series “Upstairs, Downstairs” (1971 to 1975).
  • Jean M. Auel: American writer of the “Earth’s Children” books.
  • Jean Passanante: American scriptwriter known for daytime soap operas.
  • Jean-Paul Sartre: French writer known for existentialism.
  • Jean R. Yawkey: American owner of the Boston Red Sox from 1976 to 1992.
  • Jean Saunders: English writer of romance novels.
  • Jean Schmidt: American member of the Ohio House of Representatives.
  • Jean Sibelius: Finnish composer considered the most famous of all time.
  • Jean Simmons: English actress known for “Hamlet” (1948).
  • Jean Stapleton: American actress on the 1970s sitcom “All in the Family.”
  • Jean Stewart: New Zealand swimmer and bronze medalist at the 1952 Summer Olympics.
  • Jean Todt: French CEO of Ferrari.
  • Jean Westwood: English ice dancer inducted into the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame 1977.

Jean in Popular Culture

Jean is a name you’ll see everywhere, from Japanese manga TV series to classic novels:

  • Jean: Character from the English sitcom “Dinnerladies.”
  • Jean Abbott: Character in the ITV sitcom “Bless This House.”
  • Jean Brodie: Title character in “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” novel.
  • Jean DeWolff: Character appearing in the comic Spider-Man.
  • Jean Grey: Psychic character appearing in various Marvel Comics stories.
  • Jean Gunnhildr: Playable character in the Genshin Impact video game.
  • Jean Havoc: Character appearing in the manga series “Fullmetal Alchemist.”
  • Jean Hawkins: Character from the animated TV series “Static Shock.”
  • Jean Kujo: French character from the Virtua Fighter Game Series.
  • Jean Louise “Scout” Finch: Narrator of “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee.
  • Jean Nesbitt: Character in the English sitcom “Barbara.”
  • Jean Pierre Polnareff: Character in the manga series “Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders.”
  • Jean Randolph: Another personality of Victoria Lord in the U.S. soap opera “One Life to Live.”
  • Jean Slater: Character from the English soap opera “EastEnders.”
  • Jean Valjean: Main Character in Victor Hugo’s “Les Misérables.”
  • Jean Warboys: Character appearing in the “One Foot in the Grave” English series.

Jean FAQs

Jean has interesting links to biblical history, religion, and Gaelic figures:

Is Jean a Biblical Name?

The name Jean does not appear directly in the Bible but is linked to the biblical Hebrew Yochanan, meaning “Yahweh is Gracious.” Yochanan is the Hebrew version of John, originating from Yehochanan. The closest version of Jean in the Bible is John, belonging to the apostle John and, most famously, John the Baptist.

What Is Jean in Gaelic?

Since Jean is a variation of Jane, it appears as Sìne in Scottish Gaelic. Sine (and sometimes Sheena, Sneag, and Sìonagì) can also represent Jenny and Jeannie. The Irish Jean comes from the French Jeanette and English Janet. Sinéad is usually the most common version of Jean used by Irish women.

What Does St. Jean Mean?

St. Jean is a very popular place name in France, often appearing as Saint-Jean or Saint John. It was also a nickname typically used by French soldiers, along with the form Saintjean. Saintjean is a place name and surname in Haiti due to the French influence. The French St. Jean-Baptiste de la Salle is also a French figure and the patron saint of teachers.

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About the Author

Maryana Vestic

Maryana Vestic is a Brooklyn-based writer, editor, and food photographer with a background in entertainment Business Affairs. She studied film at NYU, Irish Theatre Studies at Trinity College Dublin, and has an MFA in Creative Writing Nonfiction from The New School. She loves cooking, baking, hiking, and horror films, as well as running a local baking business in Brooklyn with her boyfriend.