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24th Jun 2024

People are confused about what the ‘H’ In Jesus H. Christ actually stands for

Ryan Price

It’s something we’ve all pondered.

There are few names as well-known as that of our lord and saviour Jesus Christ.

While many of us just refer to the great redeemer as Jesus, many historical documents refer to him by his full name – Jesus H. Christ.

So, where did the ‘H’ come from? And what does it stand for?

We can rule Harold or Henry out for a start. According to, it all stems from the language of Koine which was used by the Ancient Greeks.

Jesus’ name in his native language Aramaic was Yeshua. Greeks had the habit of translating/transcribing foreign names that they found hard to pronounce.

The New Testament was written by the Ancient Greeks, and the Koine spelling of Jesus is:ΙΗΣΟΥΣ (IESOUS)

It was often abbreviated in scrolls, books, letters but also for decorative elements, frescos and paintings in churches and illustrated bibles. The abbreviation is: ΙΗΣ (iota eta sigma = IES).

However in Greek the letter Σ (Sigma) has another variation called Lunate Sigma, which coincidentally looks like the Latin letter C. So over time the abbreviation became: IHC

CHIMAYO, NEW MEXICO – DECEMBER 24, 2019: A spray-painted portrait of Jesus welcomes visitors to the small hispanic village of Chimayo, home of the Santuario de Chimayo, a Roman Catholic church located between Santa Fe and Taos. The adobe church and shrine, founded in 1816, is a contemporary pilgrimage site famous for the supposedly curative powers of the ‘holy dirt’ found in its sacristy. (Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images)

As many people forgot over the centuries that this comes from Greek, they started assuming that it is an abbreviation for a Latin phrase, assuming the eta (H) is a Latin H and the sigma (C) is a Latin C.

So instead of seeing IHC representing the Greek letters iota eta sigma, they thought it was literally IHC.

Sometime later they also turned the I into a J – J is a variation of I: JHC

And that’s how we get meanings like:

  • Jesus Hominum Salvator (Jesus, Saviour of Men)
  • Jesus Hierosolymae Salvator (Jesus, Saviour of Jerusalem)
  • In Hoc Signo (Vinces) – (in this sign (conquer) – a message heard alongside a cross vision by Roman emperor Constantine the Great before winning the battle of the milvian bridge)
  • In His Service
  • and Jesus H. Christ

Long story short: the H doesn’t mean anything.

It used to be the letter eta in “Iesous”, which coincidentally looks like a Latin H.

A combination of the Ancient Greek’s struggle to translate foreign languages and short-term memory loss on behalf of later generations led to the mysterious H that we often see in the middle of Jesus Christ’s name.

In recent centuries, Catholic Christians watched their priests celebrating the eucharist with the symbol ‘IHS’ on their back and assumed it stood for something like Jesus H. Saviour.

Thus, many imagined that the ‘H’ after the ‘I’ for Jesus – was actually Jesus’ middle name.

There you have it.