About Names: With French roots, famous Joannes (and Joannas) spread far and wide

Joanna Lumley

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his February 27th column, he looks at the history of the names Joanne and Joanna.

Joanne is a medieval French feminine form of John, derived from Jehohanan, Hebrew for “God has been gracious.” Joanne was common enough in the Alpine province Dauphiné to become a French surname. Adolphe Joanne (1813-1881) wrote the “Guides Joanne,” popular tourist manuals from the 1840s to the 1920s. By 1500, Joanne was eclipsed by Jeanne in France. It’s still very rare there.

Joanna became a regular English name after the Reformation. In the gospel of Luke, the King James Bible’s Joanna is one of the first witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection.

Want to know more? Read on to find out more about Joannes and Joannas in history!