Jack (given name)

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Journeys through Bookland - a new and original plan for reading applied to the world's best literature for children (1922) (14783256495).jpg
Illustration of Jack from the English fairy tale Jack and the Beanstalk
Word/nameMiddle English, indirect diminutive of "John"
Meaning"God Is Gracious" or "Supplanter"
Other names
Nickname(s)Jackie, Jacky
Jack is popular in the countries shown in green

Jack is a given name which was originally a diminutive of John or Jacob. Since the late 20th century, Jack has become one of the most common names for boys in many English-speaking countries. Jack is also used to a lesser extent as a female given name, often as a shortened version of Jacqueline.[1]

The word "jack" is also commonly used in other contexts in English for many occupations, objects and actions, linked to the use of the word as a metaphor for a common man.


Jack is thought by some to have hailed from the earlier Jackin (from the name Jankin).[2][3] Alternatively, it may be derived from the name Jacques, the French form of the name James or Jacob.[2] There is also a theory that it is Celtic in origin, meaning "healthy, strong, full of vital energy" (compare the Welsh word iach, "health"), from a putative Ancient British Yakkios.[4][unreliable source?] Both the name and the word "jack" were long used as a term to refer to any man, especially of the common classes.[5][6]


In several English-speaking countries, Jack has become increasingly used in its own as a formal registered name, rather than being a mere nickname as it traditionally has been. It is now more popular in its own right than John, James and Jacob. In recent years, Jack has been the most common given name for boys in the United Kingdom, Ireland and Australia, and has grown in popularity in the United States.

John – from which Jack was often derived – was, along with William, the most frequent male name throughout the 19th century and in the first half of the 20th century.[7] Jack appeared on lists of the most frequently used male baby names in the UK for 2003–2007.[8][9][10]

In 2014, Jack was again the most popular name for baby boys in Ireland.[11]

In 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2013, Jack was the most common name given to boys in Australia.[12]

According to the United States Census of 1990, Jack is an uncommon American name, the given name for 0.315% of the male population and 0.001% of the female population.[1][13][14] However, the frequency of Jack as a baby name has steadily increased from the 160–170 rank prior to 1991 to a rank of 35 in 2006.[15]

Jock is a common diminutive of the name John in Scotland.

Other uses in English[edit]

The name Jack is unusual in the English language for its frequent use as a noun or verb for many common objects and actions, and in many compound words and phrases.

Examples include implements, such as a car jack, knucklebones (the game jacks), or the jack in bowls.

The word is also used in other words and phrases such as: apple jack, hijack, jack of clubs (playing card), jack straw (scarecrow), jack tar (sailor), jack-in-the-box, jack-of-all-trades, jack o'lantern, jackdaw, jackhammer, jackknife, jackpot, lumberjack, Union Jack, etc.

The history of the word is linked to the name being used as a by-name for a man.[5]

People with the given name[edit]

Fictional characters[edit]

Folklore and nursery rhymes[edit]

Films and novels[edit]


Video games[edit]



  • Dr. Jack Bright, a character featured in several stories and articles produced for the collaborative fiction project SCP Foundation

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Name search results". Search name files from 1990 Census. United States Census Bureau. September 7, 2007. Archived from the original on February 7, 1997. Retrieved February 9, 2008. NAME(female):JACK ; RANK:3217; %FREQ (CUMM FREQ):0.001 (88.832)
  2. ^ a b "Jack". Thinkbabynames.com. n.d. Retrieved March 30, 2012.
  3. ^ Campbell, Mike (n.d.). "Behind the Name: Meaning, Origin and History of the Name Jack". Behind the Name. Mike Campbell. Retrieved March 30, 2012.
  4. ^ "English words of British origin – dexsowā". Google Sites. n.d. Retrieved March 30, 2012.
  5. ^ a b Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Jack" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 15 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 106–107, see lines six and seven. “Jack” was early used as a general term for any man of the common people, especially in combination with the woman’s name Jill or Gill, as in the nursery rhyme
  6. ^ "Dictionary entry, jack". Dictionary.com. Ask.com. Retrieved March 30, 2012.
  7. ^ Galbi, Douglas A. (July 20, 2002). "Long-Term Trends in Personal Given Name Frequencies in England and Wales". 1.1. (self-published). Retrieved February 10, 2008. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  8. ^ "Top 100 names for baby boys in England and Wales". National Statistics Online. Office for National Statistics. 2007. Archived from the original on May 22, 2011. Retrieved February 9, 2008.
  9. ^ "Jack and Katie are the most popular baby names in Northern Ireland". News. Department of Finance and Personnel, Northern Ireland. December 19, 2007. Archived from the original on April 12, 2012. Retrieved February 10, 2008. Jack has been the most popular boys name since 2003....
  10. ^ "Jack and Emma were the most popular first names in Northern Ireland in 2003" (PDF) (Press release). Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency. January 2, 2004. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 29, 2006. Retrieved February 14, 2008. Jack and Emma were the most popular first names given to children whose births were registered in Northern Ireland in 2003
  11. ^ "So, what were the most-popular baby names in Ireland last year?". Kidspot. January 9, 2015. Retrieved January 21, 2015.
  12. ^ "Australia's 100 most popular baby names". Kidspot. April 2, 2013. Archived from the original on January 10, 2014. Retrieved January 10, 2014.
  13. ^ The male, female, and total populations of the United States in the 1990 census were 121,239,418; 127,470,455; and 248,709,873, respectively. Information from "General Population and Housing Characteristics: 1990". 1990 Summary Tape File 1 (STF 1) – 100-Percent data. United States Census Bureau. Retrieved February 9, 2008.[dead link]
  14. ^ "Name search results". Search name files from 1990 Census. United States Census Bureau. September 7, 2007. Archived from the original on February 7, 1997. Retrieved February 9, 2008. NAME(male):JACK ; RANK:53; %FREQ (CUMM FREQ):0.315 (48.102)
  15. ^ "Popular Baby Names". www.ssa.gov.