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Jack - The Meaning, Origin And Other Facts About The Name

14/08/2014 17:00 | Updated 20 May 2015

Jack Nicholson winning an oscar

Although now usually treated as a distinct name, the name Jack was originally a diminutive of John, from the Dutch nickname 'Jankin'. The name John comes from Greek and Latin transformations of the Hebrew name Yochanan, meaning 'God is gracious'.

Historically, John was such a common name in the UK (one fifth of all men were called John during the Middle Ages), that the nickname Jack came to mean any generic person, the man in the street. This resulted in still-common expressions like 'jack of all trades', 'lumberjack' and 'jack the lad'.

Famous people called Jack:

Jack Nicholson, Oscar-winning actor (born John Joseph Nicholson)

Jack Dee, comedian (born James Andrew Innes Dee)

Jack Kerouac, author (born Jean-Louis Kerouac)

Jack Lemmon, Oscar-winning actor (born John Uhler Lemmon III)

Jack Nicklaus, golfer (born Jack William Nicklaus)

Jackie Chan, martial arts film star (born Chan Kong-sang)

Jack Bauer, fictional tough-guy from TV's 24

Can be shortened to: Jackie. John can be shorted to Johnny/Johnnie. Surnames to avoid Jack with:

Surnames beginning with a 'c' or 'k' sound, ie. Corby or King, might cause problems as when said aloud this combination of sounds may result in elision – when two words are slurred together and end up sounding like one.

Similar names:

Foreign variants include Juan (Spanish), Giovanni (Italian), Hans (German), Jean (French) and Ifan (Welsh) as well as the Scottish version, Jock.

Similar English names include Jake, James, Jacob and Jay.

Female variations:

English variations include: Jacqueline, Joan, Joanne, Joanna, Jane, Janet, Janis, Jean

Celebrities who named their baby Jack:

Meg Ryan

Bob Hoskins

Susan Sarandon

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