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Updated April 15, 2024

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Boy name origins & meanings

What does James mean and stand for?


  • Hebrew: Supplanter or one who follows; also the patron saint of Spain
  • English: Variant of Jacob, meaning "He who supplants"

Gender: Male

Syllables: 1

Pronunciation: The name James is pronounced jaymz

James is a modern descendant of Iacobus, the Latin form of the Hebrew name Jacob, another one of the top baby names for boys this year. James has biblical roots and was the name of two apostles in the New Testament. It also has royal roots and was the name of kinds of both England and Scotland. 

How Popular Is The Name James

Family name origins & meanings

English: from a personal name that has the same origin as Jacob. However, among English speakers, it is now felt to be a separate name in its own right. This is largely because in the Authorized Version of the Bible (1611) the form James is used in the New Testament as the name of two of Christ’s apostles (James the brother of John and James the brother of Andrew), whereas in the Old Testament the brother of Esau is called Jacob. The form James comes from Latin Jacobus via Late Latin Jac(o)mus, which also gave rise to Jaime, the regular form of the name in Spanish (as opposed to the learned Jacobo). See also Jack and Jackman. This is a common surname throughout the British Isles, particularly in South Wales.

Famous people with this first name

James in Pop Culture

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

  • James "Jim" Halpert from The Office - A salesman known for his pranks on his deskmate and eventual promotion to co-manager.
  • James Bond from James Bond Series - A British Secret Service agent known by his code number, 007.
  • James T. Kirk from Star Trek - The captain of the USS Enterprise and one of the most famous characters in the Star Trek franchise.
  • James "Logan" Howlett from X-Men - Also known as Wolverine, a mutant with regenerative abilities and retractable adamantium claws.
  • James Potter from Harry Potter Series - The father of Harry Potter, a member of the Order of the Phoenix, and best friend to Sirius Black.

Popularity of the Name James 

According to the Social Security Administration data, the name James has consistently held a spot at the pinnacle of popularity in the United States. Historically, it has been a top choice for boys for over a century, often appearing in the top 10 names given to boys in any given year.

In recent statistics, James was ranked as the 6th most popular name for boys. This enduring popularity can be attributed to its classical resonance, biblical roots, and the influence of numerous notable figures bearing the name across various fields. 

Historical figures like President James Madison and inventor James Watt have left indelible marks on society, while actors such as James McAvoy and writers like James Patterson continue to carry the name with distinction. In the realm of fiction, characters like James Bond and James T. Kirk have immortalized the name, making it synonymous with charisma, leadership, and adventure. The multifaceted appeal of the name James, ranging from its aristocratic elegance to its strength and reliability, ensures its continued popularity across generations.

Where Is the Name James Popular?

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

Nicknames for James

These shortened names can make great nicknames for your baby.

  • Jamie
  • Jay
  • Jem
  • Jim
  • Jimmy

James Pairs Well With These Middle Names

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

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