Giotto di Bondone, Legend of St Joachim, Meeti...

It’s a name worn by an Oscar-nominated actor – and maybe the father of Mary.

Thanks to Christina for suggesting Joaquin as our Baby Name of the Day.

Joaquin: Celebrity Boost

The first time I really wrestled with Joaquin was when Kelly Ripa gave the name to her son.  Ripa’s husband is Mark Consuelos.  Their kids are Michael, Lola, and Joaquin – the last honoring Consuelos’ Mexican heritage.

The couple met on All My Children, and Consuelos can now be seen on Alpha House, but Ripa’s Live with Kelly and Michael keeps her more squarely in the public eye.  She became co-host of the show in 2001, and her son was born in 2003.

I taught myself to say wah KEEN instead of joe ah KIN.  

Then along came the actor formerly known as Leaf Phoenix.

He made waves as Emperor Commodus in 2000, and then scored another Oscar nomination as Johnny Cash in 2005′ Walk the Line.

River’s baby brother was born Joaquin in 1974.  He briefly adopted the name Leaf to fit in with his nature-named siblings.  The actor was born in Puerto Rico, and while he’s wrestled with having his name mangled, he’s stuck with it – and we all slowly got used to hearing non-Spanish speakers say wah KEEN.

Joaquin: Biblical Boy

Back in the sixth century BC, Jehoiakim – “he whom Jehovah has set up” – ruled Judah as king.  His son, Jehoiachin, briefly succeeded him.  Joachim is a contracted form of the name.

In the apocryphal Book of James, the author fills in the blanks about Mary’s early life, including naming her father: Joachim, husband of Anne.  It’s said that he was a successful man, known for his piety and charity.  But the couple was childless, and this was a Very Big Deal, a sign of divine disfavor.

So Joachim set off for the desert, fasting for 40 days and nights.  On his return, angels appeared and promised the couple that they’d have a child.  The illustration above is a famous depiction of Joachim and Anne meeting at Jerusalem’s Golden Gate, after Anne learns that, against all odds, she’s expecting.

While the stories are legend, not history, Joachim is considered a saint – and the patron saint of grandfathers.

The name never took off in English, but you’ll find forms of Joachim in most European languages – including Spanish.

Which brings us back to Joaquin.

Joaquin: Unconventional & Traditional

All of this makes Joaquin a Biblical(ish) classic, a name that should fit in with Jacob and Joshua.

The name was on the fringes of the US Top 1000 for years, ranking every year from 1922 to 1932, and again from 1944 through today.

Joaquin peaked at #283 in 2006 – credit Phoenix – and ranked #340 in 2013.

Baby Center’s Top 100 Latino names puts Joaquin at #19, suggesting that those high numbers are thanks to Spanish-speaking families.

Many an English-Spanish crossover catches on because it is nearly identical in both languages: think of Isabella, Sophia/Sofia, or Mateo.  Santiago is easy to say and spell in English, though English speakers may not immediately recognize it as a form of James.

In English, I’ve heard multiple pronunciations for Joachim, including yo ah kim and YO ah keem.  Possibly that’s why we’ve avoided the name.

And yet, thanks to Mr. Phoenix, we’re learning to say Joaquin correctly in the US.  This one might join Sofia and Mateo as a classic English-Spanish crossover possibility yet.

What do you think of Joaquin?  Could it catch on in English?  What if your family isn’t of Spanish heritage?

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. I love Joaquin. It feels like it already crossed over to usable quite awhile ago? I would have said it was fairly classic – I’ve met men/boys by that name all my life, and only about 1/2 were Latino.

    But this is in a city? It’s certainly far more usable where I grew up on the east coast than in Australia where I live now.

    I really like it. I ponder it as a middle name even out here. August Joaquin?

    I’m surprised the Duggars never got around to it.

  2. Contrary to what a lot of people think, Isabella isn’t actually a Spanish form — it’s an Italian (or Latin) form; the standard Spanish form of the name is Isabel.

    1. Very true, Sara – and a good point. But Isabella is VERY popular with Spanish-speaking Americans, and it’s that crossover possibility that helps keep Isabella near the top of the charts. There aren’t any official numbers of which I’m aware, but Baby Center does maintain a Spanish-language site with a big US following. They rank Isabella #2, right behind Sofia.