Jacob Name Meaning

red haired toddler

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What Does Jacob Mean?

Jacob is a classic and popular boy name. It comes from the Old Testament and means “supplanter,” which is often interpreted as someone who seizes, circumvents, or usurps. 

In the book of Genesis, the twins Jacob and Esau were born to Isaac and Rebecca; Esau came first, making him the first-born son. When Jacob was born he was holding onto Esau’s heel. This foreshadows two future Biblical events where Jacob usurps or seizes Esau’s birthright as the first-born son. 

  • Origin: The name Jacob comes from the Hebrew name Ya’aqov, later translated into Latin as Iacobus. It is first introduced in the book of Genesis in the Old Testament.
  • Gender: Jacob is traditionally used as a boy name. Sometimes feminine suffixes, like -ina or -ine, are added to create Jacobina or Jacobine, though this is not common in the United States.
  • Pronunciation: JEY-kub 

Although many baby names are separated by gender, Verywell Family believes that sex does not need to play a role in your name selection process. It’s important to select a name that you feel suits your new baby the best.

How Popular Is the Name Jacob?

A decade ago, Jacob was an extraordinarily popular name: it sat in the number one spot for 13 years from 1999 to 2012. It slipped to spot number two in 2013 and then began to slowly drop down the charts. At the height of its popularity in 2012, nearly 1% of all male babies born that year were named Jacob.

Jacob was ranked in 2020 as the thirteenth most popular name for boys in the U.S., proving it’s still a fan-favorite among parents looking for a strong but traditional boy name. In 2021, the name was ranked 24th. However, the intense popularity of Jacob for more than 10 years has probably left some newer parents feeling oversaturated by the name and looking toward alternatives.

Prior to 1999, the name enjoyed some popularity in the mid-1970s, when it moved from spot number 122 down to 87 on the popularity charts and kept advancing from there.

Name Variations 

There are many translations of the name Jacob in several other languages, including some stemming from its Hebrew origins.

  • Iacobus (Latin)
  • Jaco (Portuguese)
  • Jacoby
  • Jacopo (Italian)
  • Jago (Spanish/Cornish)
  • Jakob
  • Jakub (Polish)
  • Kubo (Japanese)
  • Yaakov (Hebrew)

Similar Names 

Other boy names from the Old Testament:

  • Aaron
  • Abraham
  • Adam
  • David
  • Ephraim
  • Jesse
  • Moses
  • Noah
  • Solomon

Other boy names starting with J:

  • Jackson
  • James
  • Jason
  • Jonathan
  • Jayden
  • John
  • Joseph
  • Joshua
  • Judah
  • Julian
  • Justin

Common Nicknames

Common nicknames for Jacob include:

  • Cubby: The last syllable sound of Jacob, "kub" can lend itself to the nickname Cubby. This would be super cute for a little boy, but it also wasn't unusual to hear of men nicknamed Cubby in the 50s and 60s, so it could last a lifetime.
  • Jack: This nickname is less common but definitely happens. Jack is a nice alternative to Jake if you want to shorten Jacob. It can also work if you like the name Jack but want to honor a family member named Jacob.
  • Jake: Many children named Jacob will go by the nickname Jake. It's short and sweet, but also carries a clear gravitas. Some parents even choose to legally name their child Jake, skipping Jacob entirely.
  • Jay: You may not set out to call your Jacob by his first initial, but many parents end up there. Since Jay is a common nickname for other names, like John and James, it's won't seem unusual to choose it as a nickname for Jacob.
  • Kobe/Kobi/Koby: This is more unusual, but some other languages, like Dutch, Swahili, and Polish, shorten the name to this kind of diminutive.

Suggested Sibling Names

Potential sibling names could include:

  • Abigail
  • Alexandra
  • Benjamin
  • Daniel
  • Elijah
  • Ethan
  • Grace
  • Hannah
  • Leah
  • Lucas
  • Rebekah
  • Silas

Famous People Named Jacob 

Despite how popular the name Jacob is with Americans, there aren’t many famous people with the name or its common variations. However, there are a few.

Famous Jacobs:

  • Jacob Bernoulli, Swiss mathematician
  • Jacob Elordi, Australian actor best known for Netflix’s The Kissing "Booth"
  • Jacob Grimm, German folklorist who co-published "Grimm's Fairy Tales" with his brother Wilhelm
  • Jacob K. Javits, New York politician
  • Jacob Carl Rosenthal, Polish-American chess master

Famous Jakes:

  • Jake Gyllenhaal, American actor best known for "Brokeback Mountain" and "Nightcrawler"
  • Jake LaMotta, American professional boxer
  • Jake Owen, American country music artist
  • Jake Tapper, American journalist and CNN news correspondent 

More Baby Names

Still searching for the perfect baby name? Check out these related baby name lists for even more options: 

2 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Social Security Administration. Popular baby names: beyond the top 1000 names.

  2. Social Security Administration. Popular baby names.

By Sarah Bradley
Sarah Bradley has been writing parenting content since 2017, after her third son was born. Since then, she has expanded her expertise to write about pregnancy and postpartum, childhood ages and stages, and general health conditions, including commerce articles for health products. Because she has been homeschooling her sons for seven years, she is also frequently asked to share homeschooling tips, tricks, and advice for parenting sites.