Skip to main content

Updated April 25, 2024

Table of contents

Boy name origins & meanings

What does Jacob mean and stand for?


  • Hebrew: Supplanter; he who follows
  • Biblical: The second son of Isaac and Rebekah, regarded as the ancestor of the Israelites

Gender: Male

Syllables: 2

Pronunciation: The name Jacob is pronounced jay-kub

The name Jacob has a deeply rooted historical and religious significance, originating from the Hebrew language. It's famously borne by the Biblical Jacob, also known as Israel, who was Isaac's son. The name is often associated with the traits of tenacity and ambition, echoing Jacob's Biblical story of perseverance and eventual success.

How Popular Is The Name Jacob

Family name origins & meanings

Jewish, English, German, Portuguese, French, Dutch, and Southern Indian: derivative, via Latin Jacobus, from the Hebrew personal name ya‘aqobh (Yaakov). In the Bible, this is the name of the younger twin brother of Esau (Genesis 25:26), who took advantage of the latter’s hunger and impetuousness to persuade him to part with his birthright "for a mess of potage." The name is traditionally interpreted as coming from Hebrew akev "heel", and Jacob is said to have been born holding on to Esau’s heel.

In English, Jacob and James are now regarded as quite distinct names, but they are of identical origin (see James), and in most European languages the two names are not distinguished. It is used as a given name among Christians in India, and in the U.S. has come to be used as a surname among families from Southern India.

Famous people who gave their babies this name

Jacob in Pop Culture

Do you know these fictional characters that share this first name?

  • Jacob Black from Twilight - A werewolf and one of the main characters who is also a love interest of Bella Swan.
  • Jacob "Jake" Peralta from Brooklyn Nine-Nine - A talented but immature detective in the NYPD.
  • Jacob Marley from A Christmas Carol - The former business partner of Ebenezer Scrooge, who appears as a ghost.
  • Jacob Portman from Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children - A teenager who discovers a secret refuge for supernaturally gifted youths.
  • Jacob Rivers from Terminator: Resistance - The protagonist in the video game, fighting in the Future War against Skynet.

Popularity of the Name Jacob

According to the Social Security Administration data, Jacob was the most popular boys' name in the United States from 1999 to 2012, showcasing its enduring appeal. It has consistently remained in the top 20 for the last two decades. Historical figures with the name Jacob include the patriarch Jacob from the Bible, known for his 12 sons who would become the founders of the 12 tribes of Israel. Notable contemporary Jacobs include actors Jacob Tremblay and Jacob Batalon.

Moreover, Jacob has been a common name for fictional characters across various media titles, such as Jacob Black from the Twilight series and Jacob Marley from Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. The enduring popularity of the name Jacob showcases its timeless appeal and cultural significance.

Where Is the Name Jacob Popular?

This name is most popular across certain states in the U.S., including those highlighted on the map below.

Nicknames for Jacob

These shortened names can make great nicknames for your baby.

  • Cob
  • Cobi
  • Jack
  • Jake
  • Jakey

Jacob Pairs Well With These Middle Names

Looking for a middle name that fits perfectly? Consider these!

Subscribe to Family Education

Your partner in parenting from baby name inspiration to college planning.