Everything You Want to Know About the Name Jacob

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Jacob has a special meaning for me because, of course, it's my son's name and I happen to think it's a wonderful name for a young man -- strong and sturdy, but also sensitive, just like my guy. But what about the history of the name Jacob? 

Meaning of Jacob:

The name Jacob is from the Hebrew name Ya'aqov. In the Old Testament, Jacob was the second born twin son of Isaac and Rebecca. He later became the father of the 12 founding tribes of Israel.

The story of Jacob's birth and the meaning of his name is recorded in Genesis 25. He was born grasping the heel of his older brother, Esau. In Hebrew, the name is translated as meaning "holder of the heel" or "supplanter".

During the Middle Ages in England, Jacob was considered a Jewish name, whereas James was the Christian equivalent. It was not until the Protestant Reformation that Jacob came into use as a Christian name.

Popularity of Jacob:

Up until the 1970s, Jacob was not all that common of a name. Finally, in 1974 Jacob cracked into the top 100 boy names. 1978 marked his appearance in the top 50. In 1993 he made the top 10 list. Then in 1999, Jacob had the honor of unseating Michael who reigned at #1 for 38 years straight. Jacob has yet to be dethroned from the top billing.

However, something to consider is that Jacob only has a few alternative spellings, Jakob, and Jaycob. If you compile the name lists to group similarly pronounced names together, Jacob and Jakob fall back to the 3# spot, being beaten by Aiden and Jayden (each which have at least 10 variant spellings).

Looking at the big picture of popularity, when you consider the most popular names of the past century, Jacob falls way down on the list. It only ranks at position #37.

Jacob tends to be less popular in other countries

  • #2 in Canada (Alberta)
  • #3 in Canada (British Columbia)
  • #4 in Canada (Ontario)
  • #8 in Canada (Saskatchewan)
  • #12 in New Zealand
  • #15 in Canada (Quebec)
  • #19 in Australia (New South Wales)
  • #20 in England
  • #20 in Wales
  • #24 in Australia (Victoria)
  • #26 in Denmark
  • #31 in Germany
  • #61 in Norway
  • #80 in Scotland

Pronunciation of the Name Jacob:

In English, it is pronounced JAY-kəb. The Dutch pronunciation is YAH-kawp.

Middle Names for Jacob:

Jacob flows well with many middle names. Some that might appeal to you are:

For an even longer list of names: See What Are Some Good Middle Names for Jacob?

  • Jacob Michael
  • Jacob Adam
  • Jacob Matthew
  • Jacob Reece
  • Jacob Christopher
  • Jacob Patrick
  • Jacob Landon
  • Jacob Tyler
  • Jacob Connor

Related Names and Nicknames for Jacob:

  • Feminine versions: Jacoba, Jacobina, and Jacobine.
  • Nicknames: Coby, Jake, Jeb, Koby
  • Variants: Jacobus,Jakob

Baby Name Trends:

Currently, biblical names seem to be very popular, more so for boys than girls.

Suggested Sibling Names:

If you are looking for a well-paired sibling set of names, you might consider choosing another biblical name, a name beginning with the letter "J", or a name with two syllables. Some suggestions might be:

  • For girls: Abigail, Elizabeth, Ella, Molly, Jessica, Josephine, Sarah
  • For boys: Adam, Benjamin, James, Jordan, Joshua, Lucas, Nathan

Famous People Named Jacob:

Famous people named Jacob include Jake Gyllenhaal, Jacob Miller, Jakob Christiansen, Jakob Nielsen, Jacob Perkins, and Jacob Teitelbaum.

Celebrity Baby Names:

  • Jacob Dick, (1990) son of Andy Dick
  • Jakob Danger Armstrong (1998), son of Billie Joe Armstrong
  • Jacob Bernstein (mid-1970s), son of Carl Bernstein and Nora Ephron
  • Jacob Raye (1985), son of Collin Raye
  • Jacob Emerson Fishman (2008), son of Courtney Thorne-Smith
  • Jacob Daniel DeVito (1987), son of Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman
  • Jacob Edward Hoffman (1981), son of Dustin Hoffman
  • Jacob Nicholas Caan (1998), son of James Caan
  • Jacob Hurley Bon Jovi, son of Jon Bon Jovi (whose wife's maiden name is Hurley)
  • Jacob Nolan Moritt (1997), son of Krista Allen

Behind the Name
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