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Jonah Name Meaning

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

Jonah Overview

  • Meaning: Jonah is a name meaning “dove” or “pigeon.”
  • Gender: Jonah is a traditionally masculine name.
  • Origin: From the Hebrew word יוֹנָה or “Yonā.” Jonah is a significant figure in the Hebrew Bible, and the Book of Jonah is named after the Jewish prophet.
  • Pronunciation: “JOW-nuh”
  • Popularity: Jonah has had a resurgence in the last few decades and ranked 140th in the United States in 2021.
  • Nicknames: Joe, JoJo, Jon, Joni.
  • Variations: Giona, Ionas, Jonasz, Yonah, Younes.
  • Namesakes: Jonah Goldberg, Jonah Hill, Jonah Peretti.

What Does Jonah Mean?

Jonah is a name meaning “dove” or “pigeon.” It is most commonly associated with doves and, therefore, peacefulness and harmony. It was originally a Hebrew name יוֹנָה, or “Yonā,” from the Hebrew Bible.

The name was translated into Latin and later English in the Christian New Testament. Its original meaning of “dove” remains in every variation.

What Is the Origin of the Name Jonah?

Jonah is a very important figure in both the Hebrew Bible, the Christian Old Testament, and the Quran. The Book of Jonah tells the story of the man and his relationship with God. Perhaps the most famous story from the book is Jonah and the Whale. Jonah is swallowed by a whale or large fish but manages to survive.

In Judaism and Islam, Jonah is an important prophet, and Christians see Jonah as a symbol of Jesus. To Jewish people, Jonah represents God’s forgiveness. As a religious figure, Jonah has a significant role in all three major Abrahamic religions, bridging Judaism, Christianity, and Islam together (1).

How Popular Is the Name Jonah?

Jonah has consistently ranked in the top 200 boys’ names in the USA for decades (2). It ranked 140th in 2021. While it is an ancient name with religious significance, it has only been in the top 1000 consistently since the 1970s. Jonah is also popular in Europe and the Middle East in several variations.

How Do I Pronounce Jonah?

Jonah is most commonly pronounced “JOW-nuh” in English-speaking countries.

Is Jonah a Boy or Girl Name?

Jonah is traditionally a name for boys, and there are few, if any, instances of it being given to a girl. However, Toibah, a Yiddish translation of “dove,” is predominantly feminine.

Variations of Jonah

Jonah has been a symbolic name for millennia and therefore has many geographic variations, including:

  • Giona (Italian)
  • Ionas (Greek)
  • Jonas (German, Swedish, Lithuanian, Portuguese)
  • Jonasz (Polish)
  • Joona (Finnish)
  • Yonah (Hebrew)
  • Younes (Arabic)
  • Yunus (Turkish)

Nicknames for Jonah

Jonah has lots of cute nicknames because of its two syllables and vowel placements, such as:

  • Jo
  • Joe
  • Joey
  • Johnny
  • JoJo
  • Jon
  • Joni

Similar Names to Jonah

If you like the name Jonah and are looking for something similar, try looking at other religious names. A few favorites include:

Middle Names for Jonah

If you’ve chosen the name Jonah for your future son and are looking for a middle name, here are some options that pair well. These names sound particularly good based on both the sounds and the number of syllables:

Sibling Names for Jonah

If you already have a son named Jonah and are looking for some possible sibling names, here are some excellent options:

For a Brother:

For a Sister:

Famous People Named Jonah

The most famous Jonah is, of course, the man swallowed by the whale in the Hebrew Bible. Many parents have been inspired by the original Jonah, so it’s little surprise there are several notable namesakes:

  • Jonah Bolden: Australian-American NBA player who played for the Philadelphia 76ers and then the Phoenix Suns.
  • Jonah Goldstein: American conservative political commentator notable for founding “National Review Online.”
  • Jonah Hill: American actor famous for his comedy movies including “21 Jump Street”and “Superbad.
  • Jonah Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole: The last prince of the Kingdom of Hawai’i and member of the American congress once Hawai’i became a US territory.
  • Jonah Peretti: American journalist and entrepreneur famous for co-founding Buzzfeed and The Huffington Post.
  • Jonah Ray: American actor, comedian, and writer who hosts the TV show “Mystery Science Theater 3000.”

Jonah in Popular Culture

Jonah has been a meaningful name for thousands of years. The original Jonah has his book, and there have been many others since:

  • Jonah Byrde: Major character in the Netflix TV drama “Ozark.”
  • Jonah Hex: Bounty hunter antihero in various DC Comics.
  • J Jonah Jamieson: Journalist appearing in many Spider-Man comic books.
  • Jonah Simms: Character in the popular American sitcom “Superstore.”
  • Jonah Wizard: Character in the successful book franchise “39 Clues.”

Jonah FAQs

We’ve covered all the basic information about the name Jonah. Here are some answers to a few more frequently asked questions.

Is the Name Jonah Bad Luck?

This might seem like a strange question, but for centuries sailors would use the phrase “a Jonah” to refer to a passenger who would bring bad luck to the ship’s voyage. Of course, this association is outdated and Jonah is not an unlucky name.

Why Is the Name Jonah Associated With Peace?

Jonah is associated with peace because the dove has long symbolized peace and harmony. This comes from the story of Noah’s Ark, where a dove brought Noah an olive branch to symbolize life.

Does the Name Jonah Symbolize Second Chances?

In Judaism, people believe that Jonah symbolizes second chances because God gave Jonah a second chance when he saved him from the whale after being swallowed. That shows that even at a person’s lowest, they can overcome.

Is Jonah Common in Israel?

Although Jonah is somewhat popular in many Jewish communities, the name and its Hebrew variant Yona are not that common in Israel. However, the Chief Rabbi of Israel in the early 2000s was Yona Metzger, while the first leader of the Ethiopian Jewish community was Yona Bogale.

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