Pronunciation/ˈzɪf, -sɪf/
Name day19 March
MeaningHe will add
Region of originuncertain
Other names
Related namesJoe, Joey, Joel, Jojo, Jos, Joss, Josh, John, Jose, Josephus, José, Josué, Joseba, Jože, Dodô, Doido, Joep,Posie, Bapi, , Giuseppe, Yoseph, Ouseph, Peppa, Yusuf, Seph, Sepp, Jo, Josie, Josephine, Josephina, Juuso

Joseph is a common masculine given name, derived from the Hebrew. Yosef is used mostly in English, French and partially German-speaking (alongside "Josef") countries. This spelling is also found as a variant in the Nordic countries. In Portuguese and Spanish, the name is "José". In Arabic, including in the Quran, the name is spelled يوسف or Yūsuf. In Persian the name is "Yousef".

The name has enjoyed significant popularity in its many forms in numerous countries, and Joseph was one of the two names, along with Robert, to have remained in the top 10 boys' names list in the US from 1925 to 1972.[1] It is especially common in contemporary Israel, as either "Yossi" or "Yossef", and in Italy, where the name "Giuseppe" was the most common male name in the 20th century. In the first century CE, Joseph was the second most popular male name for Palestine Jews.[2]

In the Book of Genesis[3] Joseph is Jacob's eleventh son and Rachel's first son, and known in the Hebrew Bible as Yossef ben-Yaakov.[4] In the New Testament the most notable two are Joseph, the husband of Mary, the mother of Jesus; and Joseph of Arimathea, a secret disciple of Jesus who supplied the tomb in which Jesus was buried.


The Bible offers two explanations of the name Yosef: first it is compared to the word asaf from the root /'sp/, "taken away": "And she conceived, and bore a son; and said, God hath taken away my reproach"; Yosef is then identified with the similar root /ysp/, meaning "add": "And she called his name Joseph; and said, The LORD shall add to me another son."[5] The Jewish Encyclopedia says that it is a theophoric name referencing YHWH.[6]

Variants, diminutives and familiar forms in other languages

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Variations for males include:

Female forms


Biblical figures



Arts and entertainment






Fictional characters


See also


  1. ^ Frank Nuessel (1992). The Study of Names: A Guide to the Principles and Topics. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. p. 10. Retrieved 11 September 2013.  – via Questia (subscription required)
  2. ^ Ilan, Tal (2002) Lexicon of Jewish Names in Late Antiquity: Palestine 330 BCE–200 CE (Texts & Studies in Ancient Judaism, 91), Coronet Books, pp. 56–57; Hachili, R. "Hebrew Names, Personal Names, Family Names and Nicknames of Jews in the Second Temple Period," in J. W. van Henten and A. Brenner, eds., Families and Family Relations as Represented in Early Judaism and Early Christianity (STAR 2; Leiden:Deo, 2000), pp. 113–115 (note: Hachili placed Joseph in the third place after Yohanan based on narrower basis on data than Ilan's, whereas Bauckham's calculation, based on Ilan's data, places Joseph at the second place); apud Bauckham, Richard (2017). Jesus and the Eyewitnesses (2nd ed.). Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. pp. 68–72. ISBN 9780802874313. Quote (p. 71): 15.6% of men bore one of the two most popular male names, Simon and Joseph; (p. 72): for the Gospels and Acts... 18.2% of men bore one of the two most popular male names, Simon and Joseph.
  3. ^ Genesis 30:24
  4. ^ "JACOB, also called Israel". Retrieved 10 March 2015.
  5. ^ Friedman, R.E., The Bible With Sources Revealed, (2003), p. 80
  6. ^ "JOSEPH". Retrieved 10 March 2015. "like all other Hebrew names beginning with the syllable "Jo," it has Yhwh as its first element"
  7. ^ In Portuguese, Flavius Josephus, the author of the Jewish Antiquities is known as Flávio Josefo.