Gender Masculine
Scripts יַעֲקֹב(Hebrew)
Pronounced Pron. JAY-kəb(English)
YAH-kawp(Swedish, Norwegian)

Meaning & History

From the Latin Iacob, which was from the Greek Ἰακώβ (Iakob), 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 the Latin New Testament form 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 [1], though the variant James was used among Christians. Jacob came into general use as a Christian name after the Protestant Reformation. In America, although already moderately common, it steadily grew in popularity from the early 1970s to the end of the 1990s, becoming the top ranked name from 1999 to 2012.

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.

Related Names

VariantsJaycob(English) Jacobus, Jakob, Sjaak(Dutch) Jakob(Swedish) Jakob(Norwegian) Jakob(Danish)
DiminutivesCoby, Jake, Jeb, Koby(English) Cobus, Coos, Jaap, Kobus, Koos(Dutch) Ib, Jeppe(Danish) Koppel, Yankel, Kapel(Yiddish)
Feminine FormsJacoba, Coba, Jacobina, Jacobine(Dutch) Jacobine(Norwegian)
Other Languages & CulturesYacoub, Yakub, Yaqoob, Yaqub(Arabic) Hagop, Hakob(Armenian) Jakes(Basque) Yakau(Belarusian) Iakob, Iakobos(Biblical Greek) Yaakov(Biblical Hebrew) Iacob, Iacobus(Biblical Latin) Yakov(Bulgarian) Jaume, Jaumet(Catalan) Jago(Cornish) Jakov, Jakša(Croatian) Jakub, Jákob(Czech) Jaagup, Jaak, Jaakob(Estonian) Jákup(Faroese) Jaakko, Jaakob, Jaakoppi, Jaska, Jimi(Finnish) Jaak, Kobe(Flemish) Jacques, Jacky(French) Japik(Frisian) Iago, Xacobe, Xaime(Galician) Iakob, Koba(Georgian) Jakob, Jockel(German) Iakovos(Greek) Yaƙubu(Hausa) Iakopa, Kimo(Hawaiian) Yaakov, Yakov, Akiba, Akiva(Hebrew) Jakab, Jákob(Hungarian) Jakob(Icelandic) Séamus, Shamus, Sheamus, Séamas(Irish) Giacomo, Giacobbe, Iacopo, Jacopo, Lapo(Italian) Iacomus, Jacobus(Late Roman) Jēkabs(Latvian) Jokūbas(Lithuanian) Jakov(Macedonian) Hemi(Maori) Jakub, Kuba(Polish) Iago, Jaime, Jacó(Portuguese) Iacob(Romanian) Yakov, Yasha(Russian) Hamish, Jamie(Scottish) Seumas(Scottish Gaelic) Jakov, Jakša(Serbian) Jakub(Slovak) Jakob, Jaka, Jaša(Slovene) Jacobo, Jaime, Yago(Spanish) Yakup(Turkish) Yakiv(Ukrainian) Iago(Welsh) Yacouba(Western African)
Surname DescendantsJacobsen(Danish) Jacobs, Jacobse(Dutch) Jacobs, Jacobson(English)
User SubmissionsJâcob, Jacòb

People think this name is

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Name Days

Denmark: May 1
France: December 20


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


Sources & References

  1. Withycombe, Elizabeth Gidley. The Oxford Dictionary of English Christian Names. Oxford, 1945, page 76.
Entry updated January 21, 2022