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Scriptsיַעֲקֹב Hebrew
PronouncedPron.JAY-kəb English
YAH-kawp Dutch

Meaning & History

From the Latin Iacobus, which was from the Greek Ιακωβος (Iakobos), which was from the Hebrew name יַעֲקֹב (Ya'aqov). In the Old Testament Jacob (later called Israel) is the son of Isaac and Rebecca and the father of the twelve founders of the twelve tribes of Israel. He was born holding his twin brother Esau's heel, and his name is explained as meaning "holder of the heel" or "supplanter", because he twice deprived his brother of his rights as the firstborn son (see Genesis 27:36). Other theories claim that it is in fact derived from a hypothetical name like יַעֲקֹבְאֵל (Ya'aqov'el) meaning "may God protect".

The English names Jacob and James derive from the same source, with James coming from Latin Iacomus, a later variant of Iacobus. Unlike English, many languages do not have separate spellings for the two names.

In England, Jacob was mainly regarded as a Jewish name during the Middle Ages, though the variant James was used among Christians. Jacob came into general use as a Christian name after the Protestant Reformation. A famous bearer was Jacob Grimm (1785-1863), the German linguist and writer who was, with his brother Wilhelm, the author of 'Grimm's Fairy Tales'.
VariantsJaycob English Jacobus, Jakob, Sjaak Dutch Jakob Swedish Jakob Norwegian Jakob Danish
DiminutivesCoby, Jake, Jeb, Koby English Cobus, Coos, Jaap, Kobe, Kobus, Koos Dutch Ib, Jeppe Danish Kapel, Koppel, Yankel Yiddish
Feminine FormsJacklyn, Jaclyn, Jacqueline, Jacquelyn, Jaqueline English Jacoba, Jacobina, Jacobine, Jacomina, Coba Dutch Jacobine Norwegian Jacobine, Bine Danish
Other Languages & CulturesYakub, Yaqoob, Yaqub Arabic Hagop, Hakob Armenian Jakes Basque Iakobos Biblical Greek Yaakov Biblical Hebrew Iacobus Biblical Latin Yakov Bulgarian Jaume, Jaumet Catalan Jago Cornish Jakov, Jakša Croatian Jakub Czech Jaagup, Jaak, Jaakob Estonian Jákup Faroese Jaakko, Jaakob, Jaakoppi, Jaska Finnish Jaak Flemish Jacques, Jacky French Japik Frisian Iago, Xacobe, Xaime Galician Iakob, Koba Georgian Jakob, Jockel German Iakovos Greek Yakubu Hausa Iakopa, Kimo Hawaiian Yaakov, Yakov, Akiba, Akiva Hebrew Jakab, Jákob Hungarian Jakob Icelandic Séamus, Shamus, Sheamus, Séamas Irish Giacomo, Iacopo, Jacopo, Giacobbe, Lapo Italian Iacomus, Jacobus Late Roman Jokūbas Lithuanian Jakov Macedonian Hemi Maori Jakub, Kuba Polish Iago, Jaime, Jacó Portuguese Iacob Romanian Yakov, Yasha Russian Seumas, Jamie Scottish Jakov, Jakša Serbian Jakub Slovak Jakob, Jaka, Jaša Slovene Jacobo, Jaime, Yago Spanish Yakup Turkish Yakiv Ukrainian Iago Welsh


Jacob Wrestling with the Angel (1659), by RembrandtJacob Wrestling with the Angel (1659), by Rembrandt


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Entry updated December 8, 2017   Contribute