14/08/2014 13:00 BST | Updated 20/05/2015 06:12 BST

Jacob - The Meaning, Origin And Other Facts About The Name

British Library/Robana via Getty Images
Ebenezer Scrooge visited by the ghost of Jacob Marley, Author Charles Dickens, Illustrated by John Leech. (Photo by The British Library/Robana via Getty Images)

The name Jacob comes from the Hebrew Yaakov and means 'supplanter'. This reflects the actions of the biblical Jacob, who tricked his father Isaac into bestowing a blessing intended for the oldest son to him instead of his older brother, Esau.

Linguistically, the Hebrew Yaakov also gave us the name James, through the Latin version Iacomus. Historically Christians preferred the latter name, while Jacob was associated with the Jewish people, but after the Protestant Reformation it gained in mainstream popularity.

From 1999 to 2012, it was the most popular name for boys born in the US, and it is now one of the most popular boys' names in the UK too.

Famous people called Jacob:

Jacob Zuma, president of South Africa (born Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma)
Jacob Grimm, half of fairytale authors the Brothers Grimm (born Jacob Ludwig Carl Grimm)
Jacob Epstein, British sculptor
Jacob Marley, ghost in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol

Can be shortened to: Jake, Jago, Coby

Surnames to avoid with Jacob:

Surnames beginning with a 'B' sound, ie. Baker or Brown, might cause problems as when said aloud this combination of sounds may result in elision – when two words are slurred together to end up sounding like one.

Similar names:

Foreign variants include Giacomo (Italian), Séamus (Irish), Yakov (Russian) and Jacques (French).

Similar English names include James, Jack, John, Jason, Jackson.

Female variations:

English variations include: Jacqueline, Jacklyn

Celebrities who named their baby Jacob:

Sinead O'Connor
Dustin Hoffman
Danny Devito
Willie Nelson
Jon Bon Jovi
Roseanne Barr