Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Joseph

Joseph is the anglicized form of the Hebrew name “Yosef” which translates to “(God) shall add (another son).” This is a fitting translation, as Joseph was the eleventh son of Israel’s (nee Jacob) from the book of Genesis. Joseph was Israel’s most favored son that “he made him a robe of many colors” because he was “the son of his old age” (Genesis 37:3). This inspired jealousy from Joseph’s brothers who eventually sold him into slavery to Egypt. Joseph rose to become chief steward to Pharaoh in Egypt and was eventually reconciled with his brothers when they came to buy corn from him during a seven-year famine. In the New Testament, Joseph is the name of the husband of the Virgin Mary who essentially becomes Jesus’ foster father. Lastly, the name is borne in the Bible by a rich Jew (a secret disciple of Jesus) who took Jesus down from the cross and buried him. According to medieval legend, this Joseph (Joseph of Arimathea) brought the Holy Grail to Britain.

All About the Baby Name – Joseph

Personality

OF THE BOY NAME JOSEPH

The number one personality is a leader - strong and competitive. They are willing to initiate action and take risks. One personalities work hard toward their endeavors and have the ability to apply their creative and innovative thinking skills with strong determination. They believe in their ability to succeed and are too stubborn to be hindered by obstacles. Ones meet obstacles head-on with such mental vigor and energy that you better step aside. They resent taking orders, so don't try telling them what to do either. This is an intensely active personality, but they are also known as starters rather than finishers. They have a propensity to become bored and will move quickly to the next project if not properly challenged.  They are the ones to think up and put into action new and brilliant ideas, but they are not the ones to stick around and manage them. This personality has an enthusiastic and pioneering spirit. They are distinctly original.

Popularity

OF THE BOY NAME JOSEPH

The lowest ranking the name Joseph has had in the United States in the past 100+ years is 16. Every other year, the name has always remained in the Top 15 most popular boys’ names in America, and in the past decade, it has averaged at position #10. While the name owes much of its popularity since the 17th century to Biblical significance, its staying power in modern times can be attributed to its timelessness and flexibility. This is an “everyman’s” name – a regular Joe – that has a strong, humble sound to it; while the full name Joseph brings a dignified resonance. It is also a name that goes well with almost any surname, middle name or sibling name.

Quick Facts

ON JOSEPH

GENDER:

Boy

ORIGIN:

English

NUMBER OF SYLLABLES:

2

RANKING POPULARITY:

20

PRONUNCIATION:

JO-sehf

SIMPLE MEANING:

God shall add (another son)

Characteristics

OF JOSEPH

Independent

Individualistic

Ambitious

Strong-willed

Inventive

Successful

Cultural References to the Baby Name – Joseph

Literary Characters

OF THE BABY NAME JOSEPH

Pamela appears once again in Henry Fielding’s 1742 novel, Joseph Andrews, being part of Fielding’s response to what he considered worthy of satire in Samuel Richardson. (He had done this to great effect a year earlier in his pamphlet, Shamela.) Pamela, of course, is sister to Joseph, who finds himself in a similarly distressing position – he is being pursued by one Lady Booby, for whom he works as her footman. He, of course, is in love with another, the poor but beautiful Fanny. Nothing like a little broad humor, right? In addition to being a good fellow, Joseph is also intent on remaining chaste until his marriage vows are spoken. At any rate, Pamela doesn’t play too much of a part in these proceedings, except to provide the linkage for Mr. Fielding to have his fun with Mr. Richardson, and we’re fine with that. And in the end, it turns out that little Fanny and Joseph were conveniently switched at birth - so while Joseph loses a sister in Pamela, at least he cannot be accused of incest in marrying Fanny (which had actually been a concern in this very complicated plot). What a relief!

Joseph K. is the central figure in Franz Kafka's unfinished masterpiece, “The Trial,” written around 1915 and posthumously published in 1925. As hero and protagonist of the novel, Joseph K. is the Chief Clerk of a bank. Ambitious and shrewd, he is on the fast track to success until he is arrested one morning at the age of 30. Neither reader nor K. is given a reason for the arrest which culminates into his execution one year later. In “The Trial” and through K., Kafka explores the dangers of an over-bureaucratized society that ignores the personal, emotional and subjective needs of individual human beings.

Popular Songs

ON JOSEPH

Joseph & Joe
A song by John Denver

Joseph's Lullaby
A song by MercyMe

Famous People

NAMED JOSEPH

Joseph Stalin (Russian)
Joseph McCarthy (politician)
Joseph Heller (author)
Joseph Brodsky (Nobel Prize winner/ Literature)
Joe Biden (politician)
Joseph Harry Fowler Connick, Jr. (musician)
Joseph Conrad (author)
Joe DiMaggio (baseball hall of famer)
Joe Jonas (musician)
Joseph Haydn (composer)
Joseph Heller (author)
Joe Lieberman (politician)
Joseph Carey Merrick (the "Elephant Man")
Joseph Ratzinger (given name of Pope Benedict XVI)
Joe Satriani (musician)
Joseph Simmons (rapper)
Joseph Smith, Jr. (founder of the Latter Day Saints)
Joseph Stalin (Russian communist party leader)
Joseph Stalin (Russian)
Joseph McCarthy (politician)
Joseph Heller (author)
Joseph Brodsky (Nobel Prize winner/ Literature)
Joe Biden (politician)
Joseph Harry Fowler Connick, Jr. (musician)
Joseph Conrad (author)
Joe DiMaggio (baseball hall of famer)
Joe Jonas (musician)
Joseph Haydn (composer)
Joseph Heller (author)
Joe Lieberman (politician)
Joseph Carey Merrick (the "Elephant Man")
Joseph Ratzinger (given name of Pope Benedict XVI)
Joe Satriani (musician)
Joseph Simmons (rapper)
Joseph Smith, Jr. (founder of the Latter Day Saints)
Joseph Stalin (Russian communist party leader)
Joseph Stalin (Russian)
Joseph McCarthy (politician)
Joseph Heller (author)
Joseph Brodsky (Nobel Prize winner/ Literature)
Joe Biden (politician)
Joseph Harry Fowler Connick, Jr. (musician)
Joseph Conrad (author)
Joe DiMaggio (baseball hall of famer)
Joe Jonas (musician)
Joseph Haydn (composer)
Joseph Heller (author)
Joe Lieberman (politician)
Joseph Carey Merrick (the "Elephant Man")
Joseph Ratzinger (given name of Pope Benedict XVI)
Joe Satriani (musician)
Joseph Simmons (rapper)
Joseph Smith, Jr. (founder of the Latter Day Saints)
Joseph Stalin (Russian communist party leader)

Children of Famous People

NAMED JOSEPH

Jenny McCarthy;

Historic Figures

WITH THE NAME JOSEPH

We cannot find any historically significant people with the first name Joseph