Writer’s Workshop: Oh Johnny, Oh Johnny, Oh Johnny, Oh!

Back in October, one of the prompts we had was “the first name you were almost given before your parents decided on the one you have.” Today we have the question, “The meaning of your name…does it suit you?”

I couldn’t very well answer this question without knowing what the name means, so I put “meaning of the name John” into DuckDuckGo (my favorite alternative to Google). It brought me to this page, which told me that the name is originally Hebrew, Yochanan (I have a friend named Yochana), which means “Yahweh is gracious.”

Does that suit me? Well, it’s been my name for almost 63 years, so I’m pretty used to it by now. I told the whole story of how I was named John in that earlier post, and got an interesting comment from my Uncle Jack, who said he’s been called Jack from the day he was born and prefers it to John, which was his given name (both he and I are named for the same man). As I explained there, they called me Johnny (and my aunts still call me that) to distinguish me from my grandfather, not that it would be that hard to tell us apart. I kind of like Johnny. On Dad’s side of the family, he has a brother John, also called Jack; he was named for his grandfather, my great-grandfather.

That’s a lot of Johns. Not surprising, considering that until the middle of the 20th Century it was the most popular given name for boys. At one time it was given to 1 in 5 British baby boys. By the time I came around, it had slipped to #5, behind Michael, James, Robert and David. William, by the way, was #6, with Richard, Mark, Thomas and Steven rounding out the Top 10. Had Mom gotten her way and I was named William (Old German for “determined protector”), that would have been fine, too, but I’d want to be called Willie, which, coincidentally, I named one of my cats.

Willie!

Here are a couple of Johnny songs, the first being the classic by The Andrew Sisters, the second by a young woman named Yemi Alade, who’s a Nigerian Afropop singer and songwriter. I didn’t even know there was such a thing as Afropop. The things you learn in this job…

22 thoughts on “Writer’s Workshop: Oh Johnny, Oh Johnny, Oh Johnny, Oh!

  1. My middle name is John (taken at Confirmation), which means “argued with his mother and took John to end it.” Now I wish I had done what she wanted. She used to tell everyone I took John because I could spell it. Oh, well.

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  2. You know I had to go watch the second Johnny video, as I never knew there was an Afropop either. Thanks for sharing something new!
    And love Willie too. We’re double digits with cats in the house, but no orange tabby’s, alas.

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  3. Willie was a beauty! It’s sad that out four-legged friends leave us but if they live into the double digits, that’s a good thing. I disliked my first name – Frances, so I changed it to Franci. Eugenia is my middle name (my grandmother’s name). My maiden name was O’Keeffe, which I have had several last names since then. Haha!

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    1. The three we have left are well into their senior years. Two are 16, one is 15 (those are estimates). We’ve had several that have lived to 20. Regardless of how long they lived, we remember them all, or at least most of them (there have just been so many…)

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