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Sunday, February 9, 2014

Harry Potter Alphabet: J is for Janus

When I was younger, J was one of my favorite naming letters. It is the reason I love the name Benjamin. Now, a bit older, and I actually find J to be a challenge for naming, and it appears that I am not alone - JK Rowling only used six "J" names in her books, and some of these are a stretch - one is a surname, and one is a middle name.

Justin - Justin is an old Latin name, related to the name Justus, and the word Justice. It means "just, upright, and righteous". Most popular in the late 80s/early 90s, the name is still in the top 100, but on the decline.  (Justin Finch-Fletchley)

Jack - American is no stranger to Jack. This exact variant has been in the top 100 since 1996, and other versions (Jackson, Jax, Jaxon, etc) also all have had recent popularity. Jack is originally a nickname for John, but broke off on its own a long time ago. (Jack Sloper)

Jane (Deloris Jane Umbridge) - Jane is very popular as a middle name currently. (So popular I have feared when making my own name decisions that it is this generation's version of Lynn. You would be astounded by how many women my age have the middle name Lynn). Despite its middle name popularity, it is ranked rather low (mid 300s) as a first name. The saying tied to the name is "Plain Jane", and I have seen several women worry that they "like the name, but is it too boring?". I don't think its boring at all. I think its classy, and sometimes, simple is exactly what we need.

Jordan (Lee Jordan) - So, Jordan is actually used as a surname in Harry Potter, but fans now that this character rarely goes by his first name Lee. The voice of Professor McGonnagal shouting Jordan still echoes in my ears. Jordan is one of my favorite gender-neutral names. (OK... it actually might be one of the only gender-neutral names I like!). It has been in the top 1000 for awhile, but really took off as a boy's name in the 80s (right around the time Michael Jordan entered the scene... coincidence? I think not...).

James (James Potter) - Regal, Biblical, and overall, classic. James reached its all time low of popularity in 2010... when it hit 19th. That's right, since 1880, James has never fallen out of the top 100. Talk about a perennial.

Janus (Janus Thickey) - This boys name Janus is an old Latin name, also the Roman god of doors. It means "gateway". Similar sound female names, like Janet, Janice, and Janelle are a bit out of fashion. Does that mean Janus is outdated, or due for a comeback? (Janus Thickey)

So what do you think? Is there a James or Jane in your future? What about the more unique Janus? Did Rowling do "J" justice?


  1. It's surprising there's so few, considering J is one of the most popular initials for boys names. And many of these are fairly "normal". I could see Jupiter being a great name for a Harry Potter character!

    I went to high school with a Janus. I wouldn't recommend it as a name, as you only have to remove the J to find a major source of teasing....