Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name 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.

All About the Baby 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.



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…

Quick Facts













God is gracious










Cultural References to the Baby Name – Jean

Literary Characters


Hermione is the spirited young girl of the famous and beloved Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowland, making her debut in the first novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, published in 1997. Hermione is a scholarly little girl, a fellow student at Hogwarts with Harry and Ron, to whom efficiency and dependability are second nature. Well, she’s also a rather insufferable little know-it-all who goes about memorizing textbooks and outshining her classmates. We all know what’s beneath such a veneer – right – insecurity. Hermione has it in spades, but her heartfelt love for her friends, Harry and Ron, and her own inherent goodness, further her developing character and endear her to us over the years. Young English actress Emma Watson plays her to a tee in the movie series.

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.

Scout is the six-year old narrator of Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize winning 1960 novel, To Kill A Mockingbird, which was also adapted into a highly successful movie of the same name in 1962. She is a delightful child, although she would hate being called that. A full-fledged tomboy, Scout prefers air rifles to dolls and denims to dresses. She is bright, precocious and questioning, earnestly set upon understanding the mysterious ways of the world she is growing up in. Scout’s mother is dead, so it is her father, Atticus, who is her guide as she struggles with issues both large and small. For example, her first response to trouble is to fight – she is no shrinking violet when it comes to using her fists and feet. He gently admonishes her not to fight, but to try and imagine the other person’s point of view. Scout’s immense respect for her father helps her to heed his advice (most of the time). Over the three year period of the novel, Scout reaches the age of nine, and while she may not yet have the perspective of an adult, she has come a long way toward comprehending the shades of good and evil and appreciating and respecting the differences between people. She has been exposed to the many nuances of human behavior, and is well on her way to becoming a person who will embrace life with an open mind and a generosity of spirit. But she probably still won’t wear dresses except when she has to!

Childrens Books


We cannot find any childrens books with the first name Jean

Popular Songs


Shirley Jean
a song by The Foghat

Jean Harlow
a song by Leadbelly

Bobby Jean
a song by Bruce Springsteen

Debra Jean
a song by the Queers

Emma Jean's Guitar
a song by Chely Wright

Ruby Jean and Billie Lee
a song by Seals & Crofts

Amber Jean
a song by Neil Young

Famous People


We cannot find any famous people with the first name Jean.

Children of Famous People


We cannot find any children of famous people with the first name Jean

Historic Figures


Jean Harlow was an extremely popular star of American film during her short life, which was cut short at the age of twenty-six due to kidney failure. During that span, she made forty-one movies, married three times (and was on the verge of a fourth), wrote a posthumously published novel, and won critical acclaim for her body of work, being ranked one of the greatest movie star of all times by the American Film Institute. The first “blonde bombshell”, Jean had an earthy and healthy sex appeal, and was successfully paired with such screen giants as Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy and James Cagney. Born Harlean Harlowe Carpenter in Kansas City, Missouri, and affectionately called “Baby”, Jean made her first marriage to Charles McGrew, heir to large fortune, at the age of sixteen, and she and her young husband headed to Los Angeles, where Jean had appeared in bit parts. When her first marriage failed, Jean moved in with her mother and her second husband, who had also moved to Los Angeles. Ever the stage mother, Jean Harlow Carpenter Bello (Mama) pushed and encouraged her daughter to audition frequently, and Jean made her first big hit in Hell’s Angels in 1930. She became an overnight sensation and went on to become a superstar at MGM, boosting their sales at a critical time during the Depression. During this time, her second husband, producer Paul Bern, committed suicide amidst a mysterious scandal. When Jean went on to have an affair with the married boxer, Max Baer, the ever-protective studio prevailed upon her to marry Harold Rossom, a cinematographer and friend, in order to avoid bad publicity. They were quietly divorced seven months later. She and actor William Powell were slated to marry, when she became seriously ill on the set of Saratoga. After summoning a doctor and recalling Jean’s mother from vacation, Powell finally arranged to have her hospitalized at Good Samaritan, where she fell into a coma and died on June 7th, 1937. A stunned industry and public saw her to her burial, and Saratoga was finished with stand-ins and opened to the public as the highest grossing picture of 1937. An extraordinary life, extraordinarily short, extraordinarily fulfilled.