Spotlight on: Josephine and Josepha

I was recently reading about St. Josephine Bakhita, whose feast just passed (February 8) — what a woman! I’d never known much about her, but was blown away by the little I read of her life here. So her name was already on my radar when I read the snippet in the Baby Name Wizard about the name Josephine:

How many names can be all this for you: elegant as an empress, familiar as an old friend, and ready to kick back with fun little nicknames? The answer is exactly three: Victoria, Catherine, and Josepine. The first two are perennially popular, but the third still manages to sound creative. Ahhh.”

I love that! And, you know me, being Nickname Girl (it might be one of my best superpowers 😉 ), I just loved all the suggestions offered: Jo, Josie, Joey, Josette, Fifi, Jody, and Posy. It didn’t list one that I read once though, that I thought was totally inspired and still do: Sophie. Amazing, right? I admit Josephine has never been my favorite name, and Sophie’s my favorite of the Soph- names (I do prefer it to Sophia) but it doesn’t totally fit my personal style … but Josephine nicked Sophie? I could totally get behind that!

Josefa was the entry right before Josephine the BNW, so I thought I’d include that here as well. I’ve known exactly one person with the name Josefa (or maybe she spelled it Josepha?), but she was cool so she made the name cool to me, and I’ve liked it ever since. The Josephine nicknames aren’t all totally right for Josefa in my opinion — Sophie draws as much from the “een” end of Josephine as it does from the “f” in the middle and the long strong “o” in the beginning; Fifi also wouldn’t be as natural for Josefa — but the Jo- ones are all great. I could also see something like Effie working, with the stress in Josefa being on the “ef.”

And of course, we can’t forget our good St. Joseph and what a great way to honor him either Josephine or Josepha/Josefa is.

What do you think of Josephine and Josepha/Josefa? Do you know anyone with these names? Do they like their name? Do they go by a nickname?


29 thoughts on “Spotlight on: Josephine and Josepha

  1. I love Josephine! It’s my daughter’s middle name, and coincidentally her first name is Catherine. 🙂 We don’t use any nicknames in our family but I love Jo for Josephine (huge Little Women fan here!)


  2. I am not a fan of Josepha. I would prefer a son to be Joseph, or a daughter be Josephine. However, I am Joanna and Josephine is almost too close for that to be in our line up. Our girls all have Marian titles for middle names, so maybe if we did a Marian first name, we could follow it up with Josephine. My paternal grandmother was Joan and she went by Joie with those closest to her. I go by Jo or Joney with those I have known since I was a teenager, and some of my siblings-in-law call me Jo, too. But all my immediate family, my husband, and friends I have made since I was 19 or 20, call me Joanna. My ears perk up in a funny way whenever I hear my actual name because I usually am only called Mom, Babe, and Mrs Schaper. 😉 haha

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  3. I love Josephine! I know a little Josephine who goes by “Josey.” I suggested it as a name for our DD. Josefa sounds pretty to me.. I like the “Effie” nickname suggestion. I also like “Jo” or “Jo Jo” as an affectionate name, and St. Joseph is a real favorite around here (interceded for Hubby’s job in a big way not long ago!). Odd side note: I once worked at a horse back riding camp for girls. I kid you not, half the women on staff in my unit were named “Jo.” They were mostly British, so female “Jo” names must have been huge in the 1980’s in the UK. It has taken me over a decade to get over my association with that camp, haha.

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  4. p.s. I heard about a Josefa today! Josefa was the name of Blessed Miguel Pro’s mother. (How do I know this? Is it because I was immersed in profound Lenten readings on the lives of the Saints? Kind of. We were listening to Holy Heroes’ Glory Stories in the car… my toddler loves them! Blessed Miguel Pro’s story is pretty amazing and also sad. I can’t help but think of how hard Josefa must have had it as a mother!).


  5. I love the name Josephine—one of my favorites for many years—but then my sister stole it from me for a baby who ended up being a boy (so she didn’t actually use it). Then I had a baby (who also ended up being a boy) and was really struggling with girls’ names, and she threw a huge fit and got our mom to intervene on her behalf when I was considering Josephine. She has since had another boy but continues to call Josephine “HER name” and it makes me so mad! Ok, thanks for letting me vent!

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  6. PS: I have used the names Elisabeth and Catherine so Josephine, as another 9-letter, old-fashioned, elegant name goes well with our sibset. Oh well. It’s an argument I will probably lose.

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    • Ah such a bummer, Elisabeth, Catherine, and Josephine do go together well! I wonder if it might all work itself out — maybe your sister will never have a girl? Maybe you won’t? If it helps … Dominique and Charlotte both came to mind as 9-letter elegant names … especially Charlotte. Or Juliette, which isn’t 9 letters, but was Elisabeth Leseur’s beloved sister’s name. I know I know, you didn’t ask … 😉 You have lovely taste!


      • Aww, thanks! We’ve used Julian, too, so Juliette is a no-go, and Charlotte was my other top choice with my last pregnancy but it’s feeling too trendy for me now. We settled on Iris, in the end…hard to break the 9-letter thing, but we felt like we’d looked at every name in the universe a thousand times. I came across a list of Edwardian names when looking for things similar to Josephine, and that led us to Iris. We had also strongly considered Edith and Alice. Anyway, we had a boy, so oh well! I’m still mad at my sister. 😉

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  7. I love Josephine *and* Josefa/Josepha and they were both strong contenders as middle names for the baby I’m expecting (if a girl). I also considered Marie-Joseph for the middle name slot. Recently found out about a secular Carmelite Blessed Josepha, who taught embroidery and modeled the faith for young women, which just made me love the name more. However, I have a completely different name for a girl picked out now!

    I know a darling baby Josey too. And my grandmother’s middle name was Josephine, though I remember her saying she didn’t like it much and wished her middle name had been Elaine (which I always though would suit her perfectly).


  8. Toying with adding Josephine Maria to honor St Josemaria to my list. It would mean a lot to my husband. The one drawback is we tend to prefer short names and most of my kids names have short names though we do have a Katharine.

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    • Ooh I like it! What a beautiful name and honor! Kind of nice to add a longer name so Katherine isn’t the only one? (I assume the shorter Josepha or Josefa doesn’t appeal?) How great too that it would mean a lot to your husband, that’s lovely.


      • Yeah Josepha doesn’t appeal and it doesn’t feel that much shorter.

        Do you think the 3-3 pattern of Josephine Maria works? I could use Mary or Marie although it wouldn’t be quite as close to St. Josemaria’s name.

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      • I love Josephine Maria, I think it’s gooorgeous!!! It reminds me a lot of those amazing royal names I posted the other day — really reverent and beautiful. I love Maria so much more than Marie or Mary with this combo, it’s just perfect.


  9. Cool! It came to me at Mass on his feast day 2 weeks back and I can’t believe we never considered to it before.


  10. The Danish royal family have a little Princess Josephine, which I think goes beautifully with her big sister Princess Isabella (their brothers are Christian and Vincent). To me its fitting they used Josephine for a princess, because the name is very elegant and regal. Don’t know how I’d feel about using it though. Its slightly too long for every day use for me, and I’m not a huge fan of nicknames in general.

    How would you pronounce Josepha? Prounced Joe-seffa, I love it. Pronounced ‘Joseph-with an a at the end’, I’m not keen on. It just sounds too masculine and not special enough for a girl.

    Also, I’ve never heard of Sephina or Sepha being used as derivatives of these names. I think Sephina is lovely. It reminds me of Sophina and is a perfect length for me while still retaining the essence of Josephine.

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  11. I should have said that Sephina would be a derivative of Josephina, which I like even better than Josephine since I love names ending in ‘a’, but would be even longer for me to use!

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