Parents love the letter J. It starts John, Joseph, and James, the most evergreen of classic boy names.
But it’s also the first letter of chart-topping modern inventions, like Jayden and Jax. Tally up all of the spellings of Jackson, and it might claim the #1 spot in the US.
Every style in between is represented, too. Biblical favorites, like Joshua and Jacob, to imports like Javier, word names like Justice, and, of course, the oh-so-cool, but still traditional Jack.
No surprise, then, that J is the most popular letter for boy names in the US.
Read on for more boy names starting with J, from the most popular of the moment, to the rarities you might consider for a son.
MOST POPULAR BOY NAMES STARTING WITH J
A Biblical name, worn by saints and kings, as well as many other notables. It’s hard to overstate this name’s classic status. What has changed? Nicknames! An early generation answered to Jimmy and Jim, but more recently James are likely to be Jamie … or, more and more often, just James.
Believe it or not, James and Jacob are twins, separated at birth – or maybe shortly thereafter. They’re both ultimately derived from the Hebrew Ya’aqov, which became Iakob, Iacobus, and Iacomus. Now they’re reunited in the US Top Twenty.
A surname name associated with artists (Pollock) and presidents (Andrew), and found all over the map.
The name of action heroes from fairy tales to Hollywood blockbuster, this traditional nickname for John stands on its own nicely.
Along with James, one of the most evergreen of boys names. And thanks to nickname Joe, one of the most approachable, too.
The long-running top name in the US has fallen from its perch, but remains in steady rotation. Factor in all the John-derived and related names, and it’s clear the name’s influence has not waned.
A sophisticated, longer boy name just right for our age of Sebastian, Oliver, and Adrian. The spelling Julien is on the rise, but remains far less common.
As the Aidan names surged in popularity, Will and Jada Pinkett Smith named their son Jaden in 1998. But by 2003, it was the Jayden spelling that headed towards the US Top Ten. After five years there, it’s fading now, but there are still lots of newborns whose names end in the -aidan sound.
A twenty-first century spin on Jackson.
An Old Testament name with a long history of use, from the eighteenth century Josiah Bartlett, signer of the Declaration of Independence, to West Wing’s fictional president Josiah “Jed” Bartlet – named after the original.
It’s easy to dismiss Joshua as a faded 80s favorite. But Joshua ushered in an entire generation of boy names, from Noah to Sebastian.
It looks like a John-Nathan smoosh, but it’s an independent name. Gulliver’s Travels author Jonathan Swift lends it some literary appeal.
Jeremy was long the popular form of Jeremiah, but lately it’s the full Old Testament original that appeals to parents – and fits right in with favorites like Elijah and Isaiah.
A surname name in the key of Jackson.
The name of the river where Christ himself was baptized, Jordan might be a deeply spiritual choice. But it was also a smash hit of the 1990s, helped in part by Jordan Knight, frontman of chart-topping 90s boy band New Kids on the Block.
Another possible Jackson/Jaxon spelling.
The Spanish form of the classic Joseph.
A twenty-first century take on 70s favorite Jason.
A Top Ten name from 1971 through 1983, Jason has faded slowly. In Greek myth, Jason led the Argonauts and searched for the Golden Fleece. If it hadn’t been so big back in the late twentieth century, it would be a smash hit today, thanks to ancient roots and a cool, modern sound.
Bright and energetic Jonah comes with a built-in whale of a (Biblical) tale, but this Old Testament name is broadly popular.
STYLISH and MODERN STAPLE J NAMES FOR BOYS
A rock star surname name with swagger to spare.
Once upon a time, every James became Jim. Now they’re more likely to be Jamie – if they use a nickname at all, which is no longer automatic. And just like Charlie, Jamie also stands alone.
The masculine answer to Ruby and Pearl.
Jack meets Max.
JAXTON and JAXTYN (#375 and #585)
Now take that Jack/Max combo and layer in favorites like Braxton to arrive at this trendy synthetic surname.
A 90s favorite with multiple spellings, Jaylen probably jumped thanks to several talented athletes by the name.
Another on-trend Old Testament option.
A former favorite, Jesse feels more classic than dated. Another bonus? The meaning: gift.
A high-flying, energetic name for a son.
A generation of Jennifers might inspire sons named Jensen in their honor; or perhaps this Scandi surname related to John is yet another Jackson-inspired possibility.
A Spanish classic, Joaquin is far more familiar than Joachim, said to be the father of the Virgin Mary.
A short and strong sound, Jude is familiar to the world thanks to the Beatles’ “Hey Jude.”
An Old Testament name, Judah is a longer form of Jude – or simply a slightly different alternative.
Back in the day, Jordan shortened to Jud. Give our love of Jackson and Hudson, Judson feels quite current.
An ancient name, the original form of Julian and all the other Jul- names we know so well.
SURPRISING TOP 1000 BOY NAMES BEGINNING WITH J
A name with Arabic roots and a weighty meaning: serious.
An Old Testament name with an upbeat meaning: he shines.
Cousin to names like Jabari and Jamari.
JAKOBE and JACOBY (#838 and #909)
Jacboy – a surname based on Jacob – has long appeared in the Top 1000. But now the spelling Jakobe is white hot, almost certainly in tribute to the late Kobe Bryant.
Josiah meets Jase.
It sounds angelic – thank Raphael, Gabriel, Castiel. And Jahzeel is an Old Testament figure, though this spelling feels modern.
A surname name that owes something to Jameson, and maybe a little more to Hamilton.
Edgy in its anonymity, Jones is a newcomer to the US Top 1000 – but seems poised to follow Hayes and Wells up the charts.
WIth the Italian Gioavnni poised outside of the US Top 100, no surprise this phonetic spelling is also catching on.
Traditional Jules respelled, thanks to musician Juelz Santana.
Sometimes a nickname for a boy named for his dad – think James Smith Jr. – Junior has a long history of use as a given name, too.
A virtue name popular for boys and girls alike since the 1990s.
RARE BOY NAMES STARTING WITH J
In Sanskrit, Jaya means victory. Jay reads masculine in US, but spelling it Jai emphasizes Indian heritage.
If you know your Avengers, Jarvis is Iron Man’s AI butler. But long before that, Jarvis was an English version of the Germanic Gervais, meaning spear.
As in Star Wars. If we name our kiddos Anakin and Kylo, why not Jedi, too?
Embraced by African American parents, Jelani appears to have Arabic roots. It rose originally thanks to a basketball player in the late 1990s. A more current influence might be author and journalist Jelani Cobb.
A surname name related to John, Jennings peaked in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. That tracks with the career of populist politician William Jennings Bryan. Today it feels like an unexpected surname name.
An Old Testament name meaning abundance, Jethro could be a cool o-ending boy name. Two possible roadblocks: classic rock band Jethro Tull, named for an eighteenth century agriculturalist, and The Beverly Hillbillies character.
It could be short for Jordan, but in Cornish, Jory is the equivalent of George.
Another Old Testament rarity, Jotham appears twice – as a King of Judah, as well as one of Gideon’s sons. It’s made more wearable by easy nickname Joe.
With Julian in the Top 100 and Julien rising fast, why not Jules? It’s the French form of Julius, made literary by trailblazing author Jules Verne.
The masculine equivalent of goddess name Juno, made familiar by writer Junot Diaz.
What are your favorite boy names starting with J?
First published on June 8, 2020, this post was revised and updated on June 21, 2021.