baby name JonasThe baby name Jonas starts out in the belly of a whale, then rode a wave of popularity thanks to the Disney Channel.

Thanks to Anna for suggesting our Baby Name of the Day.


Jonah comes from the Hebrew word for dove.

In the Old Testament, the prophet Jonah fled his responsibilities. He boarded a ship to cross the ocean, only to find himself caught in a storm. His fellow passengers suspected Jonah’s duplicity caused the weather, and tossed him overboard.

Instead of drowning, Jonah was swallowed by a big fish. We interpret this as a whale today.

Despite the odds, he escaped unscathed, landing on the shores of Nineveh. And Nineveh? That was the city Jonah fled in the first place.

It’s a great story, one rich with lessons about faith and duty.

When Protestant parents turned to the Bible for appropriate names, Jonah made an obvious choice.

The baby name Jonas is the Greek form of Jonah, but also widely used throughout Europe. It’s the Dutch, German, Czech, and Scandinavian version, and it’s heard in French-speaking countries, too.

In fact, a notable Jonas served as Bishop of Orleans way back in the late 700s and early 800s.


Fun fact: Jonas Bronck immigrated to the New World in 1639, arriving in New Netherland.

His farm inspired the name of the local river.

And from the river, the entire borough became known as the Bronx.


Both Jonah and Jonas coexist in English.

In our age of Noah and Elijah, Jonah feels like the more fashionable choice.

But s-ending boy names are rising. Jonas fits right in with Silas and Wells.

In fact, the baby name Jonas has ranked in the US Top 1000 every year since the data was first compiled for 1880.

Notable men have answered to the name. Jonas Salk, the virologist who developed the first polio vaccine, is among the most famous.

At #486 in 2020, the baby name Jonas isn’t especially well-used.

Jonah, on the other hand, feels like a style star. As of 2020, the name rose to #128 in the US.


Another place that parents might hear the baby name Jonas?

Lois Lowry’s award-winning novel The Giver featured a hero called Jonas.

The book’s 1992 publication helped lift the name just a bit. The dystopian novel imagines a society dominated by sameness. Only one person is trusted with the memories from an earlier time. For his generation, Jonas is chosen to fill the role of the Receiver of Memory.

It’s a bleak and scary story, but one that ends on a hopeful note.


Lowry’s Jonas is eclipsed by another association.

The Jonas Brothers launched their careers on the Disney Channel. Nick, Kevin, and Joe guest starred on Hannah Montana. They later headlined original movie Camp Rock and landed their own series.

The three graduated to full-on pop stardom, and each brother has recorded solo music since then.

Grammy nominations aside, the brothers’ success has not helped their surname catch on.

In fact, it’s probably hurting the baby name Jonas. If only because it’s impossible to hear Jonas and not automatically add “Brother” after it.


Of course, the musicians don’t own the baby name Jonas. With centuries of history and a stylish sound, it’s easy to imagine this sleek, traditional name wearing well on a son born right now.

What do you think of the baby name Jonas?

First published August 25, 2011, this post was revised substantially and re-posted on December 14, 2021.

baby name Jonas

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


    1. That is close! There is a family in my ‘hood with five boys, all with Biblical names, and I kind of think that includes a Noah and a Jonah … but in a group of five, it isn’t so obvious.

  1. Jonas makes me pause, I too think of Dickens first & foremost. but Jonah, I love. So soft & friendly. Those Jonas brothers scare me. 🙂

  2. Jonas is on my favorites list! With images of the Jonas brothers everywhere I completely forgot about Jonas/ Jo in Anne of Green Gables! Thanks ‘Waltzing’ for another reason to love it! Also, I think the Jonas brothers craze has already died down a good bit, so that doesn’t bother me anymore.

  3. Jonas is a handsome name … and seriously how much longer can the Jonas Brothers last? I mean they’re old enough to grow beards now.

    I think of the lovely minister Jonas who married Anne Shirley (of Green Gables) college friend Phillipa – even though he was poor and “ugly”, the pretty and wealthy Phil could not resist her Jo!

    1. Hmmm, I’d forgotten about Montgomery’s Jonas. He’s certainly a more sympathetic character than Dickens’ is.

  4. Never heard of the boy band . . . Friends (who live in France) have boys named Jonas and Mathis. i think that is such a great “sibset”!

  5. I believe the German surname Jonas does come from John (well, Johann), while Jonas the first name is from the Greek form of Jonah as you say — so as an English speaker, especially one in that lovely cultural mixing pot of America, you could run with the meaning you prefer!

  6. I do like Jonas – and Nineveh for a girl, actually! I also like Jonah/Jona for a girl too. Addiionally, I’d name my son Jonas just for the Weezer song.

  7. We named our son Jonas in 2007, and yes, we got his name from “The Giver”, one of the few books both my husband and I loved. If only we’d known what was coming….:p
    He just turned 4, and people have finally stopped asking if he was named after the band.

    1. Oh dear! Still, it is a lovely name, and the Lois Lowry association is almost certainly far more enduring.

  8. My issue with the name Jonas comes by way of Dickens. In the author’s _Martin Chuzzlewit_ Jonas features as the murderous, wife-abusing villain, spectacularly portrayed by a slimy Keith Allen (father of Lily Allen) in the 1994 BBC production. Now whenever I hear the name Jonas I think of Allen’s portrayal and cringe.