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 Welsh: patronymic from the Middle English personal name Jon(e) (see John). The surname is especially common in Wales and southern central England. In North America this name has absorbed various cognate and like-sounding surnames from other languages. (For forms, see Hanks and Hodges 1988).