Jack (given name)

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Word/nameMiddle English, indirect diminutive of "John". It could be derived also from Jacques, the French form for Jacob or James
Meaning"God Is Gracious" or "Supplanter"
Other names
Nickname(s)Jackie, Jacky
Related namesJohn, Jacob, Jackie, James, Jackson, Johnny, Jacqueline, Jacques, Jake, Jay, Jaco, Jacobi, Johann, Johannes, Jan, Joachim, Séan.
Above is a map which shows where the name Jack is most popular in green.

Jack is a given name. Since the late 20th century, Jack has become one of the most common names for boys in many English-speaking countries. While Jack is now a proper name in its own right, in English, it was traditionally used as a diminutive form of Jackson. It can also be used as a diminutive for: Jacob, John, Jason, Jonathan, Jan, Johann, Johannes, Joachim and sometimes for James, from its French form Jacques, from the Latin Jacobus. It is also used as a female given name (often a shortened version of Jacqueline or Jackie)[1] and as a surname to a lesser extent.

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.


'Jackie' has been used among men (Jackie Coogan, Jackie Cooper, and Jackie Gleason were all formally named John). This diminutive of 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] Whatever its origins, 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]


Given name[edit]

Jack has become increasingly used as a formal, registered name, rather than a nickname, for boys in several English-speaking countries. It is now more popular in its own right than John, James and Jacob where it is originally derived from. In recent years, Jack has been the most common given name for baby boys in the United Kingdom, Ireland and Australia, and has grown in popularity in the United States. Jack was also the most popular baby boy's name in Scotland from 1999–2002, again in 2006, and from 2008 to the present; where it continues to be the most popular boy's name. From 2003–05 and again in 2007, Jack was reduced to second place after Lewis took the #1 spot.

Although the use of Jack as a formal given name is a recent phenomenon, John – from which Jack was often derived – was, along with William, the most frequent male name throughout the nineteenth century and in the first half of the twentieth century.[7] Jack was included on lists of the most frequently used male baby names in the UK for 2003–2007.[8][9][10] In 1994, Jack was the most popular name in London but was not among the 10 most popular in the preceding 970 years.[7][failed verification] A survey in December 2008 showed that Jack was the most popular name in the UK for the fourteenth consecutive year, since it overtook Thomas in 1994.[citation needed]

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.


The occurrence of Jack as a surname is much less frequent than its use as a male forename. In 1990, in the United States, this surname is shared by about 0.007% of the population, though the geographical distribution of the surname has been broad since at least 1840, at which time there was a modest concentration of Jacks in Pennsylvania.[13][16][17] Within the United Kingdom, the surname is considered almost exclusively Scottish.[18] In the late-nineteenth century, the geographic distribution of Jacks in England was also broad, with concentration in North East England, Yorkshire and the Humber, and southern North West England.[19] In 1891, the highest concentration of Jacks in the United Kingdom appeared 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]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Name search results". Search name files from 1990 Census. United States Census Bureau. 2007-09-07. Archived from the original on 1997-02-07. Retrieved 2008-02-09. 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.[unreliable source?]
  5. ^ a b JACK (Encyclopædia Britannica, 1910). Retrieved 2011-02-04.
  6. ^ "Dictionary entry, jack". Dictionary.com. Ask.com. Retrieved March 30, 2012.
  7. ^ a b Galbi, Douglas A. (2002-07-20). "Long-Term Trends in Personal Given Name Frequencies in England and Wales". 1.1. (self-published). Retrieved 2008-02-10. 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 2008-02-09.
  9. ^ "Jack and Katie are the most popular baby names in Northern Ireland". News. Department of Finance and Personnel, Northern Ireland. 2007-12-19. Archived from the original on 2012-04-12. Retrieved 2008-02-10. 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. 2004-01-02. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-09-29. Retrieved 2008-02-14. 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 2015-01-21.
  12. ^ "Australia's 100 most popular baby names". Kidspot. April 2, 2013. Archived from the original on January 10, 2014. Retrieved 2014-01-10.
  13. ^ a b 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. Archived from the original on 2012-04-12. Retrieved 2008-02-09.
  14. ^ "Name search results". Search name files from 1990 Census. United States Census Bureau. 2007-09-07. Archived from the original on 1997-02-07. Retrieved 2008-02-09. NAME(male):JACK ; RANK:53; %FREQ (CUMM FREQ):0.315 (48.102)
  15. ^ Popular baby names
  16. ^ "Name search results". Search name files from 1990 Census. United States Census Bureau. 2007-09-07. Archived from the original on 1997-02-07. Retrieved 2008-02-09. NAME(last):JACK ; RANK:1852; %FREQ (CUMM FREQ):0.007 (50.991)
  17. ^ "Jack Family History Facts 1840". Family Facts. The Generations Network, Inc. Retrieved 2008-02-10.
  18. ^ Retrieved 08–24–11
  19. ^ "Jack Families Living in England and Wales in 1891". Family Facts. The Generations Network, Inc. Retrieved 2008-02-10.