Rebecca (given name)

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Bartolomé Esteban Perez Murillo 022.jpg
The Biblical Rebecca and Eliezer in a painting by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo.
Pronunciation /rɨˈbɛkə/ rə-BEK
Gender Female
Word/name Hebrew
Meaning To Tie, Noose, To Bind, Captivating, Strong Combatant, Hearty
Other names
Nickname(s) Becky, Becca, Becks, Becs, Reba, Riva, Rebby
Related names Becca, Becky, Reba

Rebekah or Rebecca is a feminine given name originating from the Hebrew רִבְקָה (Rivkah). The name comes from the verb רבק (rbq), meaning "to tie firmly"; Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names and the NOBS Study Bible Name List suggest the name means "snare", "noose", "tied up", "secured", and even "beautifully ensnaring".[1] W.F. Albright held that it meant "star".[2]

The name's most famous bearer was the wife of Isaac and the mother of Jacob and Esau in the Hebrew Bible.


The Latin Vulgate uses the spelling Rebecca exclusively[3] and it is followed by (ex. gr.) Wycliffe and the Bishops' Bible. In the Authorized Version of the 1600,s the spelling Rebekah is used in the Old Testament (Genesis) and the Latin "Rebecca" (representing Greek Bible Ῥεβέκκα) was retained in the New Testament (see Romans 9:10). So the earlier western spelling is “Rebecca,” but both spellings (Rebecca and Rebekah) are used in the influential King James Version. Both are current in the English-speaking world today.


In the United Kingdom, a revival of Biblical names led to this name being ranked among the top 100 female names during the 1960s, the top 20 during the 1970s, and the top 10 during the 1980s; in 1995 it peaked as the 3rd most popular female name. A decline in popularity followed; it slid out of the top 10 in 2000 and by 2009 had fallen to 77th. In 2013, it was ranked 120th.

In the United States, the name was used beginning with the colonization of the Puritans in New England in the 17th century. The name Rebecca goes up and down in the popularity rankings, but has consistently ranked in the top 200 most popular names for girls since at least 1880 (the first year for which the Social Security Administration has documented name baby popularity). In the year 2011, the Social Security Administration ranked Rebecca at 148th in popularity. In 2013, it was ranked 178th.[4][5]



  1. ^ Arie Uittenbogaard (2011), Meaning and etymology of the name Rebekah (Rebecca), Abarim Publications 
  2. ^ Journal of Biblical Literature, vol.39, #3-4, (1920) pp. 165-66
  3. ^ See for example, Genesis 49:31:
  4. ^ Behind the Name
  5. ^ Social Security Online - Popular Baby Names