Name Help: Will they regret the name Jacob?Name Help is a series at Appellation Mountain. Every week, one reader’s name questions will be discussed.

We’re relying on thoughtful comments from the community to help expectant parents narrow down their name decisions. Thank you in advance for sharing your insight!

Holly writes:

My husband and I are expecting our first child this spring. We agreed on a name pretty quickly: Jacob Michael. Michael is the name of the friend who introduced us, who we plan on asking to be Jacob’s godfather. And Jacob is a name we both love.

So why am I writing? My (younger, unmarried, no kids – yet) sister says it’s a boring name. That he’ll be one of five in his school. And that I’ll be one of those people regretting their baby’s name.

My husband says it’s fine with him, but it’s also fine if I want to change it.

We only have a few weeks left, and I could really use some advice.

Please read on for my response, and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.

Dear Holly –

How exciting to be expecting your first – congratulations!

And how lovely that you already have the perfect name chosen.

My advice: name your son Jacob Michael and never look back.

Since that would make for a very short post, let me spend a little more time telling you why I think you’ll never regret using the name you love.

You and your husband agree. This is no small thing.

Most people who write in are struggling to find a name that both parents can embrace. You’re lucky enough to be on the same page with this name!

Your sister says boring, but I say classic.

Yes, Jacob was the #1 name for boys born in the US for years. (From 1999 to 2012, to be precise.) It’s been in the Top 100 since 1974, and only just left the Top Ten after 2017.

Are there lots of boys named Jacob? Yup.

But there are also lots of boys named William and Henry and James. Classic names appeal for lots of reasons. You’re certainly not alone in preferring something time-tested.

Name regret is about being talked out of YOUR favorite name.

There are lots of reasons parents report regretting their child’s name. But the biggie? Getting talked out of your favorite name for fear it’s too anything – popular, weird, plain, uncommon.

On a practical note, I’m guessing you might know fewer Jacobs than your sister’s worst-case scenario. We know lots of kids, from teenagers all the way down to newborns. And I know a grand total of three Jacobs, pretty much spread across that range. The most popular names just aren’t as saturated as they were even a generation ago.

So I would proceed with your plan and name your son Jacob Michael. Someday, your sister can choose names, as wild and extravagant as she likes.

Readers, what would you say to Holly?

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. I teach in a public elementary school of 600+ kids. I looked up the name Jacob, and there is one in second grade and one in fifth. It’s not as common as it used to be, and it is a beautiful, solid name. I agree with the poster that the name your sister likes will be the one that 4 kids in the kindergarten class will share.

  2. A common name isn’t what it used to be. My kids were born in the Jacob heyday and I don’t recall them every having one in their class. The names we’ve seen repeat are Joshua and Jackson. And Jacob at least has a distinctive sound as a name, unlike the clusters of Ellie/Eliana/Aaliyah/Leah or Aiden/Brayden/Jaden/Jalen.

  3. The universe has a sense of humor and I can only imagine that if you were to choose a more unusual name there would be a kid or two with that same name in your son’s grade. And, as the icing on top, there wouldn’t be a single Jacob!
    Jacob is a solid and lovely name. Also, of all the people I’ve met and known in my life (and of all the reasons there are to make that person a friend), I can’t say I’ve ever thought, “I think we could have hit it off, but I could never be friends with someone who has SUCH A BORING NAME.” Picking a name can feel so make or break when you’re pregnant, but every baby (with a rare name or a common one) still grows up to be the person they always were (and, really, already are). Congratulations of your son and please send an update when your sister has her first baby. 🙂

  4. Jacob is also my and my husband’s favorite name and the name of our 6-year-old. He’s the only one out of four first grade classrooms and I only know of one other in the school! We have fun with nicknames- Jakey, Cub, Cubby, JD. So clearly I vote in favor of using it 🙂

  5. Okay, Cub as a nickname for Jacob is possibly the best nickname yet for such an evergreen name!

    ANY name bothers me IF (and only if) parents don’t have any special tie to the name. You could call your son Cavalier Croix, but if you “just liked the sound of it”… well, I know I would have wanted my name to have been special to my parents.

    But AWESOME NEWS! You DO have PHENOMINAL reasons for choosing such a handsome name for your son! He is going to feel so loved and extremely cool.

    Marvelous taste you two have! May your next child be as blessed as this one.
    Best wishes and congrats!

  6. For data I know 4 Jacobs ranging from 18-12. None of them would have been in the same class. Names I’ve seen repeated in a class include Jack, Kobi, Archer, Lilly, James, Evie, Sam, Lachie, Mikayla. I don’t think most of them would have been predictable based on data (except Jack and Lachie which were both number 1 in our Australian state).

    My son has a namesake in class and he doesn’t care at all. They use different nicknames anyway). Imo Jacob is a great name with history and substance. I would use it proudly.