Quick Facts on Jean
- Number of syllables:
- Ranking popularity:
God is gracious
Etymology & Historical Origin - Jean
Jean is the French form of John. Both names are ultimately derived from the Latin “Iohannes”, the Greek “Iōannēs” and the Hebrew “Yochanan” all of which translate to “Yahweh (God) is gracious” or “God is generous”. John is a name that originated in the Old Testament (or Hebrew Bible) as one of King David’s mighty men. However, John owes most of his popularity in usage to two prominent New Testament figures: John the Baptist (Jean-Baptiste) and John the Apostle (Jean l'Apôtre). Therefore, John/Jean has traditionally been a name of great importance since early Christianity. 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]. John the Baptist had the distinction of baptizing Jesus himself in the River Jordan. John the Apostle was a fisherman, the brother of James, and a follower 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. John is a name with many forms: John (English), Sean (Irish), Ian (Scottish), Giovanni (Italian), Jean (French), Juan (Spanish), Johann (German), Jan (Dutch), and Ivan (Russian). The name was reintroduced to Western Europeans after the First Crusade (11th century) by the Eastern Christians from the Byzantium Empire. From that point on, Jean became a wildly popular choice among the French where it remains on the Top 100 list of most favored boy names.
Popularity of the Name Jean
In the United States Jean is obviously not as popular as John but he’s held remarkably moderate positions for well over 100 years. That is, until now. Today the French Jean is coming dangerously close to falling off the American male naming charts. To be honest, we were actually surprised to see the name in circulation here in the states – it’s just so, well, French. Jean is also a name that begs to be paired with another masculine name, for instance Jean-Jacque, Jean-Paul, Jean-Claude, Jean-Luc, Jean-Pierre or even Jean-Baptiste. They all sound so noble and dignified. For instance Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) was a famous French artist and Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) was a renowned French existentialist. And let us not forget the Belgian-born martial artist Jean-Claude Van Damme who made a name for himself in America. Historically speaking Jean-Baptiste was the name given to Sacagawea’s baby boy with French-Canadian explorer Toussaint Charbonneau, both of whom accompanied Lewis & Clark on their famous westward expedition. From a cultural perspective, Jean Valjean is the central character in Les Misérables written by Victor Hugo in 1862. And Jean-Luc Picard captained the Enterprise in the Star Trek Next Generation series. What a cool name to give a boy in America, but we strongly urge you to pair it with another French name. It just gives Jean that extra je ne sais quoi…
Popularity of the Boy Name Jean
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Cultural References to the Baby Name - Jean
Literary Characters of the Baby Name Jean
Jean Valjean (Les Misérables) Jean Valjean is the protagonist of Victor Hugo’s classic 1862 novel, Les Misérables, which has also been made into several films, as well as the extremely popular Broadway version of 1987, based off of the Schonberg/Boublil French treatment of 1980. Jean Valjean is a generally law abiding man who is jailed for stealing bread for his sister’s children. Sentenced to five years, Jean adds insult to injury by repeated escape attempts, and ends up serving nineteen years in all. A good man who had struggled with the extremes that a life of poverty can bestow on one, Jean Valjean emerges from prison a hardened man, expecting and receiving scorn and abuse from all around him. It is the action of a kindly bishop, a man of God, who turns Jean around and sets him on the path to salvation. Under an assumed name, Jean becomes the industrious mayor of a small town and begins to become the embodiment of human kindness and neighborly good intentions. He champions the poor and disenfranchised, especially the doomed prostitute, Fantine. When she dies, Jean becomes responsible for her young daughter, Cosette, and gives the loving care of a father to the child. All this while, Inspector Javert has been seeking the man he knows as the criminal Jean Valjean, becoming more obsessed with his quarry, coming tantalizingly close at times, and determined to find and deal with him appropriately. Just as Jean Valjean is growing in love and compassion, so is Javert expanding ever farther into dreams of spite and retribution. When the final reckoning arrives, and Javert is given first-hand knowledge of the transformation of Jean, he is devastated at the emptiness and futility of the search to which he had devoted his life. In his despair, he commits suicide. Jean is also ready to leave the mortal coils, but he does so in the bounty of his deep love for Cosette, his knowledge that she is happy and fulfilled, and in the satisfaction of having finally attained that peace that all mankind so desperately need and strive for.
Personality of the Boy Name Jean
The Three energy is powerful and enthusiastic. These personalities are cheerful, full of self-expression, and often quite emotional. They have an artistic flair and "gift-of-gab" that makes them natural entertainers. Their joyfulness bubbles over, and their infectious exuberance draws a crowd. The Three personality is like a child - forever young and full of delight. They are charming, witty, and generally happy people. The Three personality lives in the "now" and has a spontaneous nature. Threes seem to live with a bright and seemingly unbreakable aura that attracts others to them. In turn, they are deeply loyal and loving to their friends and family. Luck also has a tendency to favor number Threes.
Variations of the Baby Name - Jean