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.
Word/namederived from Late Latin Jacobus, from Greek Ἰάκωβος Iakobos, from Hebrew יַעֲקֹב‎ (Yaʿakov)
Meaning"seizing by the heel", "supplanting", "may God protect"
Other names
Short form(s)Jack, Jake
Related namesJames, Jakob, Jakov, Jakub, Ya'koub, Yakub, Yakup, Ya'qoub

Jacob is a common male given name and a less well-known surname. It is a cognate of James, derived from Late Latin Iacobus, from Greek Ἰάκωβος Iakobos, from Hebrew יַעֲקֹב‎ (Yaʿaqōḇ), 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. It can also be taken to mean "may God protect."[1][2]

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 a direct speech by the character Esau) in Genesis 27:36, adding the significance of Jacob having "supplanted" his elder brother by buying his birthright.[3]

In a Christian context, Jacob – James in English form – is the name for several people in the New Testament: (1) the apostle James, son of Zebedee, (2) another apostle, James, son of Alphaeus, and (3) James the brother of Jesus (James the Just), who led the original Nazarene Community in Jerusalem. There are several Jacobs in the genealogy of Jesus.

Modern usage[edit]

From 1999 through 2012, Jacob was the most popular baby name for boys in the United States.[4]


People with the name[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jonathan Z. Smith, Map is Not Territory: Studies in the History of Religions, University of Chicago Press (1978), p. 33.
  2. ^ "Meaning, origin, and history of the name Jacob". Behind the Name.
  3. ^ "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)
  4. ^ U.S. Social Security Administration – Popular Baby Names