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Joel Name Meaning: Origin, Popularity & Nicknames

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

Joel Overview

  • Meaning: “God is god”
  • Gender: Typically a male name.
  • Origin: Hebrew, as a biblical name.
  • Pronunciation: “JOHL”
  • Popularity: In the top 250 most popular names in the USA.
  • Nicknames: Jo, Joe, Joey.
  • Variations: Joe, Joen, Joey, John, Josiah, Joseph, Joshua.
  • Namesakes: Joel the prophet.

What Does Joel Mean?

The name Joel uses two of the names for God in Hebrew, though in a religious context, these are not written separately. It means [the Hebrew] “God is god” (1).

There seems to be a misconception that Joel means “God is willing” or “the Lord is willing,” but this is false. Perhaps this is mistaken from the meaning of “Jonathan” which means “God has given.”

What is the Origin of the Name Joel?

The name Joel is from the Bible. Specifically, it is the name of one of the prophets, but there are other places, especially in the Book of Chronicles, where other figures with this name are mentioned. Usually, these references are tribal leaders or princes.

Many people choose the name simply because they like how it sounds, or they are naming it after relatives. Alternatively, many people want to name their child because of the powerful messages in the Book of Joel about repentance and redemption.

No matter the reason, it is a strong and traditional name.

How Popular is the Name Joel?

In the United States, Joel is ranked 233rd presently (2). Its peak popularity in the country was about forty years ago and has steadily declined since 1980 when it was the 67th most popular boy’s name. By the early 1990’s it was no longer in the top 100 names but still considered popular.

In the United Kingdom, it is relatively more popular at present, ranking 161st out of all boys’ names.

How Do I Pronounce Joel?

The name Joel is pronounced “JOHL.” It rhymes with the word “toll” or “coal.”

Is Joel a Boy or Girl Name?

The name Joel is typically a boy’s name, but there is a feminine variant of “Joell” or else spelled ‘”Jöelle.” This feminine version is not from Hebrew nor any other traditional source. It is a modernization of a French adaptation.

The feminine entry is pronounced “joh-EL.” The traditional French pronunciation is “zhaw-EL.”

Variations of Joel

Aside from the feminine version, there are no other common forms of Joel in use. Occasionally, the name is spelled with two L’s at the end, Joell.

In Hebrew, the name is Yoel.

Nicknames for Joel

The only nickname for Joel would be those also shared as a nickname with the more popular “Joseph,” and its variants.

  • Joe
  • Joey
  • Jojo

Similar Names to Joel

If you came across the name Joel, and like certain elements, there are many others that you can find that might capture that similar feeling.

For girls’ names

  • Julie
  • Joelle
  • Jody
  • Jolene
  • Judy

Middle Names for Joel

Middle names can be a great way to include more memories of family members, traditional names, or even just for a nice-sounding middle initial. Although the options are boundless, here are just a few names that might go well after Joel.

Sibling Names for Joel

If you already have a child named Joel and are looking for other names, there are plenty that you might choose from. Other biblical names, especially the other twelve minor prophets, are thematic, or other male names beginning with J-.

For sisters:

Probably best to avoid rhyming names like Cole.

Famous People Named Joel

Joel has been an enduring name for thousands of years in one form or another. With such a lineage of Joels, there have been plenty of famous men with the name Joel in recent memory.

  • Joel Crawford: film director.
  • Joel Grey: actor.
  • Joel McCrea: actor in many classic Westerns.
  • Joel McHale: actor and entertainer.
  • Joel Osteen: evangelist and TV personality.
  • Joel Whitburn: author, and historian.
  • Joel Zumaya: a professional baseball player.
  • Billy Joel (as a surname): singer and songwriter.

Joel in Popular Culture

There have been numerous characters in film, TV, and literature that carry the name Joel. Here are just a few of the most famous uses.

  • Joel Barish: the main character in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
  • Joel Goodson: a character in the movie Risky Business.
  • Joel McTienna: a character in the comic series W.I.T.C.H.
  • Joel Miller: the protagonist in the video game, The Last of Us.
  • Joel Robinson: in the television series Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Joel FAQs

With such a long history, and with so many people who bear the name Joel throughout time, there are bound to be some questions about this name. You may have wondered:

Is Joel a Saint Name?

No, there is no Saint Joel, but some people may think that the prophet was a saint because in some liturgical calendars he is given a day to be commemorated.

Is Joel an Old Fashioned Name?

The name Joel will not make your child sound dated. Though it is a name from antiquity, it is still a popular name these days. Many people around the world still opt to name their children Joel.

How Old is the Book of Joel?

Joel lived around the 6th century BC, making the namesake quite an ancient one. This is not the first recorded instance of the name Joel, but it is the one most people will think about when they hear it.

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