It's safe to say Jacob is one of the all-time classic name choices for baby boys. From the Hebrew Ya'aqov, Jacob can mean "to follow, be behind," but it can also mean "to supplant, overreach" or come from the Hebrew word for "heel." It can also mean "may God protect." All are based on the biblical story of Jacob.
The original Jacob is a hero of the Jewish, Islamic, and Christian faiths. The grandson of Abraham (the patriarch of the Israelites) and the son of Isaac, Jacob was the younger twin of Esau. According to the Bible story, Jacob was born grasping his brother's heel as if to surpass him and take Esau's place as the firstborn son. This first act is where the name's meaning "supplanter" began, and Jacob would go on to fulfill this meaning by tricking Esau out of his birthright years later.
Another fun part of Jacob's history: In the 1920s, the nickname Jake was used as a slang word meaning "cool" or "awesome."
The name is most commonly spelled Jacob and pronounced "JAY-kub." Jakob is a relatively common variant spelling, with less common versions including Jacoby and Jacobi. Nicknames include Jake, Jay, Cubby, and Kobie. Jack can also be short for Jacob, though it's more commonly a nickname for John or used as a standalone name.
Jacob is a masculine name that is primarily used for baby boys, but with modern parents trending toward gender-neutral names with masculine undertones (such as Charlie for Charlotte, and last names like Taylor being used as first names for girls), it's not a stretch to think Jake could emerge as a gender-neutral name. Jacobina is the feminine version of Jacob, and shortened to Jake could be a cute twist for families looking for a unique but still familiar name.
Jacob has been in the top 500 boy names in the U.S. since at least 1900, according to the Social Security Administration. It hit number 1 in 1999 and was the most popular name for baby boys until 2013. It's declined slightly in recent years, but was still in the top 20 names for boys in 2020.
Jacob manages to be a very old name with religious meaning and an extremely popular choice for modern babies. While trends come and go, Jacob has earned its place in the classic baby names hall of fame – a place it may stay for another millennium.
Jacob Grimm : German academic and folklore storyteller; one half of the Brothers Grimm
Jacob Tremblay : Canadian actor
Jacob Zuma : President of South Africa from 2009 to 2018
Jake Gyllenhall : American actor
Jake Owen : American singer-songwriter
Jake Tapper : American journalist
Jacob Bell : football player
Jacob Cruz : baseball player
Jacob Epstein : artist
Jacob Ford : football player
Jacob Hester : football player
Jacob Smith : actor
Jacob Vargas : actor
Jacob Young : actor