Jumping Joan

My name is fairly uncommon. According to Baby Names Hub, records indicate that only 477,217 girls in the United States have been named “Joan” since 1880.  That’s about 10% compared to the 4,107,757 girls who have been named “Mary” since 1880.

J - Jumping JoanAs a child, I don’t remember any other girls with my name. By the time I reached high school, I was still the only Joan. But, I did come across my name in works of literature. The first time, I found it in a poem, in The Real Mother Goose book.  I asked my mom to read it to me every night. Looking back, the subject matter seems quite depressing; but, I guess since I thought I was the star I didn’t pay much attention to the words.




Here am I, little jumping Joan,
When nobody’s with me
I’m always alone.


J - Jumping Joan 2The second, also a poem, just about ruined my high school days. Once the teacher read it, I was forever known as “Greasy Joan.” The chiding was terrible. The kids thought it was hilarious, I was devastated. Looking back, I should have been honored since it was penned by William Shakespeare.




(From “Love’s Labour’s Lost”)

When icicles hang by the wall,

And Dick the shepherd blows his nail,

And Tom bears logs into the hall,

    And milk comes frozen home in pail,

When blood is nipp’d and ways be foul,

Then nightly sings the staring owl,


Tu-who, a merry note,

While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.


When all aloud the wind doth blow,

    And coughing drowns the parson’s saw,

And birds sit brooding in the snow,

    And Marion’s nose looks red and raw,

When roasted crabs hiss in the bowl,

Then nightly sings the staring owl,


Tu-who, a merry note,

While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.


Have you had similar experiences with your name? Maybe from a song or being mentioned in print? Share in the comments.

7 thoughts on “Jumping Joan

  1. Hi, Joan! Natually, I had a particular interest in this post! I agree…we have what I think of as an old-fashioned name. In fact, many younger people don’t even seem to know the name. Unless I pronounce it very carefully, they will call me “Jo”…and if they do hear me say “Joan,” they will write on my Starbucks cup, “Jone”! And if I spell it for them, they are likely to call out, “JoAnn, your order is ready!” Grrrr!

    I am very familiar with the two poems you included, although I did not have the unhappy high school experience you had with Shakespeare’s lines. As a huge Beatlemaniac in the 1960’s, I didn’t know whether to be delighted or not when Paul and John included my name in their song, “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer.” I was happy that my name was in a Beatles song, but since Maxwell’s silver hammer bashed poor Joan in the head, the impact was perhaps not as happy as having my name in a love song!

    Thanks for a fun post!

    • Joan says:

      Yes, we are fortunate to have an old-fashioned name – until it’s misspelled or mispronounced. Stay tuned for a future blog post on just that very subject!

      I forgot about the Beatles’ song. We have had a few mentions, but some, as you pointed out, were not that positive.

  2. My name’s a weird case. I’ve met a few people named Mandy. But, really, their names were Amanda and people only sometimes called them Mandy. My mother, for some reason, named me just Mandy. On my birth certificate. Sometimes I think I have only half a name.

    Funny extra, my mom’s name is Penny. Not Penelope, which Penny is usually short for. It’s a family trend of doomed potential.

    Nicknames for me usually revolved around my hair color. Carrot-top and fire-crotch come to mind. Neither were much appreciated. Well, everyone else thought they were funny 🙂

  3. My name is Anna. Anna Banana. Anna-Anna-Bo-Banna-Fee-Fi-FoAnna-Anna. People loooove to name-game my name. As for the choosing, my mother likes to say she saved me from the alternatives. 🙂

  4. Terry Redman` says:

    “Joan,” one of the first names I ever knew. my older sister is Joan. Once it grade school she mentioned in a writing assignment that Joan was popular the year she was born; she had 2 or 3 classmates with the same name. I once asked where they got the name and got a great answer. “She’s a great warrior and a saint!” She fought for France against England, saved the city of Orlean, and for this she is called “The Maid of Orlean.” New Orleans is named for the city. Captured by the English (betrayed by other French officers) she was died and burned as a witch. That’s how they handled upstart women then. Hey, she demanded an army, a good horse and authority. The Church declared her a saint and a martyr. One tough chick!
    I thought I was the only Terry for a long time. The first year I taught at North HS I had 5 (yes 5) students named Terry/Terri in one period. Years later a girl stopped me and asked if I remembered the class and I said I did. Two of the Terry s married, her parents and they named her Terry.
    Terry Owen G…. was the first Terry I ever met. As kids we used to sit in a dugout and he told me hundreds of jokes I did not understand and one day he asked my middle name. When I said Owen we were both amazed–not just 2 Terry s but 2 Terry Owen s.

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