NOTE: This is a special Saturday Name of the Day to accommodate a very soon due date!

He was the fastest rising name for boys born in 2008. Is he a new classic or just a flash in the pan?

Thanks to AN for suggesting Jacoby as Name of the Day.

Jacob has been King of the Mountain since 1999. The long-time #1 name for boys born in the US was given to more than 250,000 newborns in the 2000s alone. He’s been in the Top Ten since 1993 and the Top 100 since 1974.

Little wonder that parents have gone looking for variations:

  • As an independent name, Jake ranked #112 in 2008, down a few places from his peak of #96 in 2000. He’s actually charted in the Top 1000 every year since the stats were established in 1880;
  • Jakob has only ranked since 1983. He peaked at #171 in 2001, and had fallen to #309 in 2008. Jaykub and kin have been spotted, too.

Then along came Jacoby. The surname first appeared in 1983, but never quite caught on. And then, bang! In 2007, Jacoby jumped nearly 300 spots to #623 and then another 200 the following year, to an all-time high of #423 in 2008.

That’s a lightning fast gain in baby naming stats.

If Jameson can catch on, why not Jacoby? While the first generation of surname names in vogue tended to evoke New England prep school rosters, recent entrants are more diverse. Jacoby – traditionally Jewish – feels a little different. And yet his classic rhythm fits with traditional masculine monikers from Anthony to Zachary.

Plus there are nicknames aplenty – the obvious Jake or Jack, and the appealing Coby. And this is where the Jewish surname owes a hat tip to Japan and the NBA.

Kobe Bryant’s parents were inspired by a steakhouse serving beef from the Japanese city famed for its cattle. The year after Bryant joined the NBA, his first name debuted at #554. As his career took off, Kobe rose to #222 by 2001. His personal life has prompted some parents to look elsewhere for inspiration, but Kobe still ranked #408 in 2008.

It’s not just about beef and basketball, either. The hoop star first made headlines when sound-alike Cody was a Top 50 pick.

Notable Jacobs are many, from Esau’s twin in the Bible, to Molly Ringwald’s Sixteen Candles crush. Jacobys are harder to come by, but include:

  • One of Barbossa’s cursed crew in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise;
  • The Boston Red Sox’s Jacoby Ellsbury;
  • Papa Roach frontman Jacoby Shaddix.

If there is one frustration with Jacoby it could be settling on a pronunciation. I’ve heard two:

  • ja KO bee, the sound favored by a lawyer in my hometown;
  • JAK oh bee, the pronunciation that springs to mind when I think of Jacobean England – the era immediately following the reign of Elizabeth I.

Depending on the language, ya KO bee or YAK oh bee are possible, too, though I doubt they’d appeal as first names. But who can say? After all, Nameberry called the rise of Cohen and company The Most Unlikely Mainstream Trend of 2010. And while Jacoby shares none of Cohen’s controversy, it is possible he’ll be tainted by association.

Overall, Jacoby’s sound is incredibly appealing. Part-20th century classic, part-cutting edge choice, it is easy to imagine this one catching on – and staying. Like Tyler and Jackson, he may be poised to join the fraternity of last names permanently promoted to first name status.

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. Sadly, I couldn’t use this for a future son due to the last name they’d have not sounding great with it. But I’ve always had a soft spot for this name as it sounds rhythmic yet soft. And it’s such a bonus that the nickname “Jac/Jack” is built-in!