James:Following after

Name Space

James has ancient roots in Hebrew. It's a variation on the name Hebrew name Yaakov (Jacob) – which became Iacomus in Latin and eventually James in English.

James and Jacob mean "one who takes by the heel" or, more plainly, "supplanter." In the Bible story of Jacob and Esau, Jacob held onto the heel of his first-born twin brother, Esau, during their birth.

The name James appears prominently in the Bible, too. There are two apostles named James, as well as the brother of Jesus, who's sometimes called James the Just.

James is said to have made its way into the English-speaking world via Old French. Beginning in the 13th century, this name went on to be borne by no less than 13 monarchs. This includes the 16th- and early-17th-century Scottish king James VI, also known as James I of England, who ascended the Scottish throne in 1567 at the tender age of 13 months. This same King James is most often remembered today for his connection with the King James Bible, which he authorized and democratized.

Fast-forward five centuries, and you'll find the royal namesake lives on with pro basketball king LeBron James. In fact, James is one of the most enduringly popular names for boys in the Western world.

There are many different cultural takes on the name James, including:

  • Seamus (Irish/Gaelic)
  • Tiago (Portuguese)
  • Giacomo (Italian)
  • Jaime (Spanish – pronounced "HI-may")
  • Kimo (Hawaiian)
  • Iago (Welsh)

In the United States, James has been in the top 20 names for boys on the Social Security Administration (SSA) list for more than 100 years. Exemplifying this remarkable popularity, six U.S. presidents were named James: Madison, Monroe, Polk, Buchanan, Garfield, and Carter.

The staying power of James and its variations lies in part in the fact that it's traditional, refined, and, well, short. Though only one syllable, there are of course a few common nickname choices, such as the more down-home Jim, laid-back and youthful Jimmy, playful and gender-neutral Jamie, Southern-sounding Jem, and rather artistic Jay.

James is currently way down the popularity list for baby girls – in the low 2,000s – though that could change. Actress Blake Lively and her husband, actor Ryan Reynolds, welcomed a baby daughter in 2014 and named her James after his father.

Gender-neutral options similar to James include Jamie, Jay, and Jae. There are also feminine names that are similar to James, including Jamesina, Jamelia, Jemma, Jacinda, and Jemima.

Since the reign of the very first King James, there has been no shortage of noteworthy folks bearing this name. It's a name that's still going strong, thousands of years later. Not too shabby!

The Five Elements:
Famous James:

James, son of Zebedee : Patron saint of Spain; one of the twelve apostles of Jesus

James, son of Alphaeus : Another of the twelve apostles of Jesus

James I the Conqueror : Early 13-century Spanish king of Aragon

James I of Scotland : 15th century King of Scots; spent 20 years imprisoned in the Tower of London

King James VI of Scotland/James I of England and Ireland : Only son of Mary Queen of Scots

James Baldwin : Essayist and novelist; part of the American Civil Rights Movement

James (Jimmy) Carter : 39th president of the United States; awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002

Captain James Cook : 18-century English explorer, British Royal Navy captain; helmed the HMS Endeavor

James Madison Jr. : Fourth president of the United States of America and The Federalist Papers collaborator

James Joyce : 19-century Irish novelist; author of Ulysses and Finnegan's Wake

Henry James : Late-19th- and early-20th-century American novelist; author of Portrait of a Lady

James Dean : American film actor; starred in the film Rebel without a Cause; died tragically at age 24 in a car accident

James McAvoy : Scottish actor; Golden Globe nominee for his role in the film Atonement

Jimmy Fallon : comedian; host of The Tonight Show

James Brown : American singer, songwriter, known as "the Godfather of Soul"

James Earl Jones : American actor; played Darth Vader in the Star Wars trilogy

James Cleveland (Jesse) Owens : American track and field athlete, four-time gold medalist

LeBron James : Los Angeles Lakers basketball star

James Buchanan : former US President

James Earl Carter : former US President

James Dean : actor

James Madison : former US President

James Pold : former US President

James Belushi : actor

James Blunt : musician

James McAvoy : actor

James Franco : actor

James Patterson : author

James Mason : actor

James Maslow : actor

James Hetfield : musician