Biblical name (meaning ‘ewe’ in Hebrew), borne by the beloved wife of Jacob and mother (after long barrenness) of Joseph (Genesis 28–35) and of Benjamin, at whose birth she died. In the Middle Ages and subsequently this was regarded as a characteristically Jewish name, but it is now also popular among Gentiles.
English and Scottish: patronymic from the personal name John. As an American family name, Johnson has absorbed patronymics and many other derivatives of this name in continental European languages. (For forms, see Hanks and Hodges 1988.)