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Joseph Name Meaning: Origin, Popularity & Nicknames

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

Joseph Overview

  • Meaning: The name Joseph comes from the Hebrew “Yosef,” meaning “God will give” or “God will add.”
  • Gender: It is almost always used as a name for boys.
  • Origin: The origin of the name Joseph comes from the Latin form of the Greek lospeh, which is from the Hebrew name Yosef. It has a rich biblical history.
  • Pronunciation: The name Joseph is pronounced “J-OH-SUH-F” or “JOE-ZIF.”
  • Popularity: The name Joseph was popular in the early 1900s, but has slowly declined in popularity ever since. However, it is still very popular in the world. It’s in the top 30 names.
  • Nicknames: Joe, Joey, Jojo, Ossie, Jody, JoeBoy, and many more.
  • Variations: Giuseppe (Italian), Iosif (Russian), Jose (Spanish), Josef (German), and Jozef (Dutch)
  • Namesakes: Joseph Gordon-Levitt (actor, and Joseph “Joey” Tribianni (fictional character)

Learn more about the name Joseph, what it means, its gender, origin, popularity status, and who shares that name.

What Does Joseph Mean?

The name Joseph comes from the Hebrew Yosef. That in itself was derived from the Hebrew word “yasaf,” meaning “increase” or “to add. (1)” Joseph is translated as “God will give” or “God will add.”

What Is the Origin of the Name Joseph?

The origin of the name Joseph comes from the Latin form of the Greek lospeh, from the Hebrew boy’s name Yosef. Yosef means “He will add” and is from the root “yasaf.” Joseph has a rich history in the Bible.

Joseph was the 11th son of Jacob, who is the traditional ancestor of the people of Israel, and was given the name Joseph. He was sold into slavery and eventually became a highly-regarded advisor to the pharaoh of Egypt. His parents, Jacob and Rachel, considered him their favorite child. The story of Joseph inspired the hit Broadway musical, “Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat.”

How Popular Is the Name Joseph?

Joseph is one of the most popular names taken from the Bible. It frequently appeared in the early 1900s and was consistently used before that. Most data does not predate the late 1800s.

The name held a top ten spot from 1900 to 1935. In 1917, it was ranked number five and made up 2.6% of the male babies born that year in the United States.

It fell out of the top ten a decade later but continued to rank in the teens. The name saw a slight resurgence in the early 2000s but quickly dropped down (2).

Even though parents have slowly started to stop using the name, Joseph has maintained a spot in the top 30 baby names since 2000.

Joseph ranked No. 26 for most popular boy-baby names in the US in 2020.

How Do I Pronounce Joseph?

The name Joseph is pronounced “J-OH-SUH-F” or “JOE-ZIF.” In English, Joseph usually sounds like “JHOW-SahF.” The pronunciation will be different in other languages. In French, Joseph will sound like “ZHow-ZEHF,” and in German, it will be “YOW-ZehF.”

Is Joseph a Boy or Girl Name?

Joseph is almost always a boy’s name. It has been given to boys since Biblical times.

The shortened form of Joseph is “Joe,” and sometimes that is used as a girl’s name. It is sometimes spelled as “Jo” but has multiple other feminine variations. Other girl names that have stemmed from the name Joseph include Jody, Josephina, and Josephine.

Variations of Joseph

There are many different variations of the name Joseph, and they are in a variety of languages:

  • Giuseppe (Italian)
  • Iosif (Russian)
  • Jose (Spanish)
  • Josef (German)
  • Jozef (Dutch)
  • Jusuf (Bosnian)
  • Pepe (Spanish)
  • Pino (Italian)
  • Jose (Spanish)
  • Youssef (Arabic)
  • Yousaf (Urdu)
  • Yusuf (Turkish)

Nicknames for Joseph

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of nicknames for the name Joseph. Here are just a few:

  • Broseph
  • Dreamer
  • Dreams
  • Jepp
  • Jay
  • Jehoshaphat
  • Jody
  • Joe
  • Joey
  • JoeBoy
  • Jojo
  • Joker
  • Jophiz
  • Jossy
  • Joz
  • Ossie
  • Zeph
  • Zeppelin

Similar Names to Joseph

Many names are similar to the name Joseph. Here are a few:

Middle Names for Joseph

It can be hard to pick out a middle name for a baby. Here are some ideas for middle names for babies named Joseph:

Sibling Names for Joseph

Some parents who pick the name Joseph for one child like to stick with other biblical names for their other children as well. Others don’t! Here’s a list of potential sibling names for children named Joseph:

Famous People Named Joseph

Joseph is a very popular name and that becomes even more clear when seeing just how many famous people share that name. Here is a list of just a few famous Josephs (often shortened to Joe):

  • Joseph (“Joe”) Adam Jonas: Singer and band member of The Jonas Brothers.
  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Actor best known for his roles in “500 Days of Summer” and “The Dark Knight Rises.”
  • Joseph (“Joe”) Clifford Montana: American Former NFL football quarterback.
  • Joseph (“Joe”) Mantegna: Actor best known for his roles in “Criminal Minds” and “The Godfather.”
  • Joseph (Joe) R. Biden: President of the United States of America.
  • Joseph Smith: Founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the “Mormon” church.

Joseph in Popular Culture

When it comes to pop culture, there is no shortage of famous Josephs:

  • Joseph Joestar: protagonist in the anime “JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure.”
  • Joseph Seed: antagonist in the “Far Cry” video game series.
  • Joe Swanson: Character from “Family Guy.”
  • Joseph “Joey” Tribianni: One of the main characters from the television sitcom “Friends.”
  • Joseph Wilford: an antagonist in the fantasy series “Snowpiercer.”

Joseph FAQs

You may still have more questions about the name Joseph. Here are some of the most commonly asked.

What Region Did the Name Joseph Originate From?

The name Joseph first appeared in the Middle East amongst ancient Israelites. Scholars aren’t exactly sure when the name was first used.

What Nationality is the Name Joseph?

While it can be translated into many different languages, the name’s original language association is with Hebrew.

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