If you know anything about the Duggar family, you know all the kids’ names start with J. Yep, in a family that big, they managed to come up with 19 different names that begin with the letter J — and, honestly, it’s left some long-time fans and newcomers alike totally mystified. Is it a family thing? Is it to honor Jim Bob Duggar, the patriarch of the family, or grandpa Jim Lee Duggar, JB’s dad? Is it just Michelle Duggars‘ favorite letter of the alphabet? Of all letters, why J? And how did they get started? We looked into the Duggars‘ names to see exactly what the deal is.
They didn’t start out focusing on J names.
In fact, they kind of stumbled onto it by accident. They named Josh Duggar (Joshua, technically) first, inspired by a name in the Bible. And then the first set of twins came along and they were named John-David (John is another good Biblical name) and Jana (after Michelle’s grandma Ana, but with a J so it would be cute and match her twin). It only takes three to make a pattern or start a collection, so by the time they had Jill, they didn’t want her to feel left out as the only Duggar kid without a J name. “We thought, ‘Well, if this is the last baby that we have it would be terrible if we had Josh, Jana, John, and … Marianne.’ Because they might say, ‘Why didn’t you name me with a J?'” Michelle explained in a blog post for TLC. And, side note, can you imagine a world where they’d stopped at just four kids? Talk about The Twilight Zone.
Of course, once you’ve got four, it’s really a thing and so everyone else was suddenly just destined to have a J name. “It’s not something we planned,” the matriarch wrote. “We just didn’t want to leave anybody out after that, so the J names stuck.” Unfortunately for Michelle, that meant that she was the odd one out. Even her husband fit into the J name trend. But don’t worry, plenty of fans lovingly (and not so lovingly) refer to her as J’Chelle, so she’s still able to get in on some of the family tradition.
Where did all those names come from?
Some were clearly Bible inspired, and others were pulled from family names. Good ol’ James Duggar even shares a first name with his dad and grandpa, though we imagine he’s pretty relieved to not be forced to carry the nickname tradition on and go by Jim Andy or something like that. And plenty of the other Duggars’ names are recognizable as popular names among the rest of the population. Joseph, Jason, Justin, Jennifer. But others also illicit plenty of teasing from the fans. After all, Jana, Joy-Anna, and Johannah are kind of all just the same name. And they thought of spelling Jinger with a J a full 15 years before they came up with any version of the name Jordan?
Yep, the family gets plenty of playful ribbing about their names. Like, why not Jessica? Some fans pointed out that it might be too similar to Jessa, but then again, aren’t Jedidiah and Jeremiah also pretty dang similar? Jacob is a popular name — and a Biblical one, too — but that also got looked over in lieu of less popular names like Josiah. Julia and Jenna also got the boot for Josie and even Jubilee, the latter being the name of the Duggars’ 20th child who was sadly stillborn. But who knows? With so many popular J names left in the world, maybe one of the kids will pick up the mantle.
Are any of the kids following naming conventions?
So far, of the four couples on the Duggar family tree who’ve already had at least one baby and named them, there’s only one pattern emerging. Josh and Anna Duggar have gone with an M-name theme for their kids, naming them Mackynzie, Michael, Marcus, Meredith, and Mason. About time someone is finally giving Michelle her own faux namesakes so we can stop pretending like J’Chelle is a thing! Unfortunately, now Anna’s the one left out — but she’s not in such bad company these days when other Duggar family names are even more out of left field (yes, Spurgeon, we’re looking at you).
Technically, though, not all the kids were given a J name.
And we don’t just mean Tyler Duggar, the grand-nephew that Jim Bob and Michelle adopted. No, we’re talking about Caleb. Not sure who that is? We’ll refresh your memory. Back when the couple was young and wild and wearing shorts and kissing before marriage, they weren’t nearly as conservative as they are now. In fact, their values differed so much at the time that they even used birth control — we know, it’s hard to believe. But after welcoming their first son, Josh, they decided to go back on the pill. They were apparently all about family planning at the time and it seemed weren’t ready to have another kid yet.
When Michelle found out she was pregnant anyway, despite being on the pill, she and her hubby came up with the name Caleb. After all, Joshua and Caleb “hung out together in the Bible, and they were great guys” according to Michelle’s blog. But, allegedly because of the fact that she took the pill, Michelle suffered a miscarriage and Caleb left them early. If Caleb had made it to term, though, we probably wouldn’t even recognize the Duggars as we know them today. Who knows, maybe they would’ve only had a small handful of children named Aaron, Elizabeth, or Stephen. You know, Biblical names but starting with all kinds of letters. We can only imagine.
Love the Duggars? Be sure to join our Duggars Facebook group to chat about all the latest updates and juicy gossip!