Jacob (name)

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Isaak zegent Jakob Rijksmuseum SK-A-110.jpeg
Isaac Blessing Jacob, 1638 Govert Flinck painting. The name Jacob comes from the Biblical story of Jacob's birth where he came out holding the heel of his twin brother, Esau.
Pronunciation /ˈkəb/
Gender Male
Word/name derived from Late Latin Jacobus, from Greek Ἰάκωβος Iakobos, from Hebrew יַעֲקֹב (Yaʿqob, Yaʿaqov, Yaʿăqōḇ)
Meaning "seizing by the heel", "supplanting"
Other names
Related names James, Jakob (Afrikaans, Danish, Dutch, German, Norwegian and Swedish), Jake, Jack, Jakobi (Albanian), Jaagup (Estonian), Yakub (Arabic), Yakup (Turkish)

Jacob is a common male first name and a less well-known surname. From 1999 through 2012, Jacob has been the most popular baby name for boys in the United States.[1] It is a cognate of James. Jacob is derived from Late Latin Iacobus, from Greek Ἰάκωβος Iakobos, from Hebrew יַעֲקֹב (Yaʿqob, Yaʿaqov, Yaʿăqōḇ), the name of the Hebrew patriarch, Jacob son of Isaac and Rebecca. The name comes either from the Hebrew root עקב ʿqb meaning "to follow, to be behind" but also "to supplant, circumvent, assail, overreach", or from the word for "heel", עֲקֵב ʿaqeb.

In the narrative of Genesis, it refers to the circumstances of Jacob's birth when he held on to the heel of his older twin brother Esau (Genesis 25:26). The name is etymologized (in direct speech by the character Esau) in Genesis 27:36, adding the significance of Jacob having "supplanted" his elder brother by buying his birthright.[2]

In a Christian context, Jacob – James as reduced English form – is the name for several people in the New Testament: (1) apostle James, son of Zebedee, (2) another apostle James, son of Alphaeus, and (3) James the Just, who led the original Messianic Community in Jerusalem.

Since Jacob is also venerated as a Prophet of Islam, his name is commonly used as a male first name in Arab and Muslim societies (Arabic Yakub, Turkish Yakup).

In modern English language, the term Jacobite refers to a follower of Jacobitism, the political movement dedicated to the return of the Stuart kings to the thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ U.S. Social Security Administration - Popular Baby Names
  2. ^ "And he said, Is not he rightly named Jacob? for he hath supplanted me (יַּעְקְבֵנִי) these two times: he took away my birthright; and, behold, now he hath taken away my blessing" (KJV)