masc. proper name, from Hebrew Yoh'el, name of a minor Old Testament prophet, literally "the Lord is God;" the same name as Elijah (q.v.) but with the elements reversed.
The personal name that became common in Devon and Cornwall and the Breton districts of Yorkshire and the Eastern Counties immediately after the Conquest is from Old Breton Iudhael, from Iud- "chief, lord" + hael "generous." It is the source of the modern British surname Joel, as well as Jewell, Joule, and Jolson.
updated on October 10, 2017