It’s been awhile since I’ve done one of these posts, well, according to my frankly brilliant (ha!) memory. The target this time around is Jonathan, in honour of one of my favourite TV supersleuths: Jonathan Creek. It’s also good timing because my ‘Uncle’ Nathan recently celebrated his 21st birthday, again, so I suppose this post goes out to him as well, especially since his offspring got her very own post back in September. The next target will likely be my Grandfather, who has some strong opinions about names – especially his own. But let’s save that nugget for another post.
Growing up I knew one Jonathan my age, who usually went by the nickname Jonno. I didn’t know a John, but knew plenty of Jacks and even a Gianni, which is the Italian form of Johnny. John is one of those classics of yesteryear which have suffered of late, as between 2009/2010 John fell 11 places to #94, making him one of the furthest fallers inside the Top 100, whilst Jonathan ranked at #141 in 2010 in England&Wales. Another notable example of this kind of fall from grace being Margaret, which now ranks just outside the Top 500. One of the main factors may have been the embracing of Jack, and to a certain extent Jackson in recent years. Plenty, if not most, parents will likely know Jack started off as a nickname for John, whilst perhaps not knowing that Ian or even Sean are international variants. One thing is for sure: John is a solid classic that has been loved for centuries.
But he’s no relation of Jonathan. It’s close, but they originate from two different Hebrew names. For Jonathan it’s Yehonatan, whilst for John it’s Yochanan. Both meanings relate to Yahweh, but for Jonathan this relates to Yahweh has given, not Yahweh is gracious as is the case for John.
So, aside from the obvious nicknames such as John, Johnny et al, what other nicknames could you bestow upon your little Jonathan? Here’s my three favourite ideas to get the ball rolling for you:
Inspired by the final four letters – than – this name is technically a nickname for another popular choice: Alexander. The letter X is in vogue at the moment, even if X factor isn’t; Zeffy recently covered Xerxes, another quirky X name. I remember only knowing Benet Brandreth’s middle initial was X whilst initially drawing up the Brandreth post, and having to do some serious research to find out what the X stood for, it of course being for Xan. Only 3 Xans were born in England&Wales last year, but there were also 3025 Alexanders and a further 135 Xanders, both numbers of which may include a handful more Xans.
A nickname for Nathan, which makes up 3/4 of the name Jonathan is Nate, so why not take things a step further to Tate. We’ve mentioned this name a few times on this blog, going so far as to give him his own post back in the summer after my trip to Liverpool. I see Tate as a rising name, and I’m not just saying that because I love him. There are plenty of factors on his side, such as his compact nature which proved a successful formula for Jack and James – both Top 10 names in 2010. There is evidence to suggest that the name Tate is related to the old surname Tait, and thus have relations with the Old Norse word for cheerful.
A slightly off-the-beaten track suggestion, but don’t cast him aside just yet. O and T are both prominent letters in Jonathan, and the -o ending is one continually bleeted about being ‘the next big thing’. The name is related to the Germanic element od, which connotates wealth and fortune. He’s enjoyed relative popularity over in Germany, I believe, given that I know three Ottos, all of whom call Germany their home, plus when I did German at GCSE the textbook was constantly throwing Ottos, Sebastians and Helgas at us. As for his state of affairs on the other side of the English Channel, Otto currently sits at a fairly respectable #397, sharing it with Aden and Khalid.