Gianna is an Italian female name short for Giovanna, the feminine equivalent of Giovanni. The name Giovanni is essentially the Italian equivalent of the English name John both of which are linguistically derived from the Hebrew “Yochanan” meaning "Yahweh (God) is gracious" or "God is generous, merciful". All of the John names were made popular in the Middle Ages among Christians (during the Crusades) in veneration of two important New Testament figures: John the Baptist and John the Apostle. John the Baptist (like Jesus) was born under miraculous circumstances. The angel Gabriel appeared to his father (Zechariah) claiming that God will give his barren wife (Elizabeth) a son (John) to help prepare the way for the Messiah (Jesus). “And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and lived in the wilderness until he became manifest to Israel.” [Luke 1:80]. Because the baby was born to Elizabeth well past her childbearing years, the “John” names were often given to sons born to late-in-life parents. The other Biblical John, John the Apostle, was a fisherman, the brother of James, and a disciple of Christ. He is most known as one of the authors of the four gospels of the New Testament. John’s gospel focuses on Jesus as the “Eternal One of from heaven” and is considerably more theological and philosophical than the other three gospels. As John became one of the most successful names in Western Culture, it’s no surprise that the Johanna (Gianna) female equivalents flourished in their own right. Adding further religious important to Gianna is a female character from the New Testament called Joanna in Latin. She shows up variously in the Gospel According to Luke and the Acts of the Apostles as one of the very few women specifically named as “ministering women” who accompany Jesus on his travels. “And with him were the Twelve and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmaries: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, wife of Chuza, (king) Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for them out of their means.” (Luke 8:2-3). These women are also mentioned in Luke 24:10-11 as having witnessed the resurrection, but when they initially described the events to the apostles, they were not believed. It could therefore be argued that Joanna was among the quickest of hearts to believe in Jesus as Christ. This would undoubtedly make Joanna an extremely significant name among the Christians. Giovanna and Gianna (as well as Gia) are Italian forms of the Latin Joanna. Johanna, Joanne, Joan, Joanie, Janna, Jane, Janet, Jean, Jeanette, Ivana, Juana, Juanita and even Sinéad are all variants in other languages, as well.
Gianna is currently the most popular distinctly Italian female name in America right now, enthusiastically embraced by even non-Italian-Americans. The name first appeared on the U.S. popularity charts very recently; it made its debut on the Top 1000 list in 1989. Over the past twenty years, Gianna has increased an average of 40 positions on the chart each year, quickly ascending to America’s Top 100 list in 2006. She seems to be parking herself on the upper end of that list. We’ll have to wait and see if Gianna can maintain her popularity and continue to grow. Gianna is all-Italian and well-equipped with European sophistication. The name is bright and friendly by nature and a solid choice for American parents of Italian heritage, or just those with an appreciation for Italian culture. Gianna is a diminutive of Giovanna, but American parents are ten times more likely to name their daughter Gianna vs. Giovanna. Gia is a pet form that’s simple, shorter and still maintains that same Italian ethnic essence.