She’s short and sweet, but would this virtue name threaten a daughter’s happiness?
Thanks to Joy for suggesting her own given name as Name of the Day!
What happens when Patience can’t wait, when Hope despairs, when Honor cheats on her spelling quiz? Joy almost needs to come equipped with a personality that’s pure sunshine.
A handful of women were named Joy, Joie, Joya, and even Joyeuse in Medieval England. While the word dates to the 1200s and probably influenced the name, it also owes something to the unrelated – and originally masculine – Joyce, worn by a seventh-century saint.
Unlike many virtue names, Joy wasn’t in use among the often-dour Puritans. But modern Christians could adopt Joy as a spiritual name, thanks to its inclusion as one of the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit listed in the New Testament.
Joy comes from the Latin gaudia via the Greek gaio. It’s a synonym for happiness. High minded philosophers and pop culture gurus alike have posited how to best pursue it; Gretchen Rubin recently scored a #1 New York Times bestseller with The Happiness Project.
Joy is also a surname of debated origins, worn by:
- Silent film actress Leatrice Joy;
- World War II Vice Admiral C. Turner Joy, later head of the US Naval Academy and honored with the unlikely-named destroyer the USS Joy;
- Mary Joy penned housekeeping guides in the nineteenth century;
- Henry Bourne Joy was president of Packard Motor Company and an early advocate for highway construction;
- Brothers George and Albert Joy were both late nineteenth century artists.
A varied and international bunch have worn the first name, including:
- Indonesian Idol’s 2004 winner, Joy Tobing;
- The View’s Joy Behar, actually born Josephina;
- Joy Greshman is best known as the wife of CS Lewis, though she was a writer, too;
- Joy Morton founded the Morton Salt Company. The corporation is known for an iconic image of a little girl holding an umbrella, but this nineteenth century Joy was a he, wearing his mother’s maiden name in the first spot;
- Born Friederike, Born Free’s naturalist Joy Adamson is better known by her nickname;
- Among the Duggars’ 19 J-named kids, there’s no Joy, but there is a Joy-Anna;
- Joy Ogwu was a high-ranking Nigerian official, serving as foreign minister;
- Canadian writer Joy Fielding pens thrillers.
But it’s the small screen that hands us the fabulously trashy, endlessly manipulative and still somehow very funny Joy Hickey Turner, Earl’s cheatin’ ex on My Name is Earl. Actress Jaime Pressly has been much celebrated for the role, but it is hard to imagine parents naming a daughter after that particular Joy.
After ranking in the Top 200 from the 1920s into the early 1980s, today she’s fallen to #548. And yet, Joy never reached the Top Ten, or even the Top 100 – meaning that she’ll still strike many as a fresh and unexpected choice.