Boy Baby Name


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Quick Facts on James

  • Gender:
  • Boy
  • Origin:
  • English
  • Number of syllables:
  • 1
  • Ranking popularity:
  • 13
Simple meaning:
At the heel, The supplanter

Characteristics of James

  • Communicative
  • Creative
  • Optimistic
  • Popular
  • Social
  • Dramatic
  • Happy

Etymology & Historical Origin - James

James is ultimately derived from the ancient Hebrew “Yaakov” which is the origin of the name Jacob, traditionally thought to be derived from the word "akev" - which literally translates to "at the heel". In Genesis 25:26, Jacob was born the younger twin to Isaac and Rebecca and he "came out with his hand holding Esau's heel, so his name was called Jacob." The Lord told Rebecca that the younger would be stronger, and that the older would serve the younger. As the Biblical story progresses, the cunning Jacob eventually supplants his older brother by stealing his birthright and his father's blessing. "Is he not rightly named Jacob?" Esau asks in Genesis 27:36. "For he has supplanted me these two times." Therefore, the name Jacob is also associated with the verb ‘to supplant.’ The Greek form of the name Jacob (Iakobos) was given to the Latin (Iacomus) which eventually got anglicized to James. Sounds strange, but this is how languages mutated over time and geographical space. Historically it was thought that James and Jacob were two distinct names, but most etymologists would now agree James came from Jacob (even though the New Testament features two Disciples of Christ with the name James). The name became popularized in England and adopted by royals in the 15th century onward. James is a persistent favorite among all English-speaking nations. In 2009, the name ranked #3 in Scotland, #5 in Ireland, #9 in England, #11 in Australia and #17 in Canada. In 2010, James was the 19th most popular name for boys in the United States.

Popularity of the Name James

A perennial favorite, the name James has maintained a high position on the U.S. popularity charts for well over a century. It has never left the Top 20 list of most-favored boys’ names. In fact, throughout the 1940’s, James held the #1 position for 13 straight years. Right now, at position #19, James is experiencing its lowest spot on the charts in the history of name-tracking. It’s clear why the name has sustained such an illustrious career; it has just about everything going for it. James is a classic, but never sounds old-fashioned or out-dated. James has an aristocratic, royal essence, but never sounds pretentious. James has been bestowed upon little boys consistently for centuries, but never feels over-used. The name is extremely flexible by nature. It goes beautifully with almost any conceivable surname; it can be shortened easily to initials when paired with middle names (such as J.R., J.J., J.P.), it has many pet forms: Jim, Jimmy, Jaime. And if that isn’t enough, the name’s counterparts in other languages are just as classic: Jacob in Hebrew, Séamus in Ireland, Jacques in French, Jaime in Spanish and Giacomo in Italian. We would almost call James the perfect name.
Popularity of the Boy Name James
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Cultural References to the Baby Name - James

  • Popular Songs on James

    Popular Songs on James

    Bells of Saint James - a song by Kansas

    Brother James - a song by Sonic Youth

    Cool James - a song by Harvey Danger

    Dear James - a song by Women in Docs

    James - a song by Billy Joel

    James - a song by Carly Simon

    James - a song by The Bangles

    James Dean - a song by the Eagles

    James Dean - a song by the Goo Goo Dolls

    Jimmy James - a song by The Beastie Boys [explicit]

    Little James - a song by Oasis

    Sweet Baby James - a song by James Taylor

  • Children's Books on the Baby Name James

    Children's Books on the Baby Name James

    Come Sing, Jimmy Jo (Katherine Paterson) - 11-year-old James Johnson comes from a poor white family in West Virginia. The whole family sings and plays country music except for James, until the day their agent likes his singing. He makes him change his name to Jimmy Jo before getting them all a contract on the local TV country music show. Recommended for ages 9-14.

    Dear Santa: The Letters of James B. Dobbins (Bill Harley) - Dear Santa, Here is what I want for Christmas ... From an aquarium (with a piranha), to earplugs for blocking out his little sister, to a full-size hockey rink, Jimmy wants a lot for Christmas. What Jimmy needs is a little Christmas spirit. A hilarious series of letters to Santa follows Jimmy's experience one very special holiday season, from his first outrageous requests to a final Christmas Eve surprise. Recommended for ages 3-7.

    Ghosts in the Fourth Grade (Constance Hisler) - James and his friends turn the old Hathaway house into a haunted house to scare Mean Mitchell, the class bully, on Halloween night. Recommended for ages 9-12.

    James and the Giant Peach (Roald Dahl) - When poor James Henry Trotter loses his parents in a horrible rhinoceros accident, he is forced to live with his two wicked aunts, Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker. After three years he becomes "the saddest and loneliest boy you could find." Then one day, a wizened old man in a dark-green suit gives James a bag of magic crystals that promise to reverse his misery forever. When James accidentally spills the crystals on his aunts' withered peach tree, he sets the adventure in motion. Recommended for ages 9-12.

    James Bond Encyclopedia (John Cork and Colin Stutz) - John Cork and Colin Stutz have compiled in this ultimate encyclopedia of all things Bond, James Bond everything a fan could possibly want to know about this icon of the spy genre. Recommended for ages young adult.

    James Goes Buzz Buzz (Rev. W. Awdry) - From the Thomas the Engine series, James is a very busy and very splendid red engine with many important things to do. He has no time to be bothered by small insignificant bees. But when a buzzing swarm find James’s warm boiler a cozy place to sit, James is driven completely buggy. What is an important engine to do? Recommended for ages 4-8.

    Let's Be Enemies (Janice Udry) - James used to be my friend. But today he is my enemy. James and John are best friends -- or at least they used to be. They shared pretzels, umbrellas, and even chicken pox. Now James always wants to be boss, and John doesn't want to be friends anymore. But when he goes to James' house to tell him so, something unexpected happens. Recommended for ages 3-6.

    Maggie B (Irene Haas) - Set sail with Maggie and her little brother, James. Sometimes wishes do come true. Recommended for ages 4-8.

    The Great Little Madison (Jean Fritz) - In the days before microphones and TV interviews, getting people to listen to you was not an easy task. But James Madison used his quiet eloquence, intelligence and passion for unified colonies to help shape the Constitution, steer America through the turmoil of two wars, and ensure that our government, and nation, remained intact. Recommended for ages 9-12.

    What James Likes Best (Amy Schwartz) - James is an city-dwelling preschooler who goes on various short outings with his parents (a bus to visit friends, a taxi to visit grandma, and a yellow car to go to the county fair). They also walk next door to the red-brick building so James can play with his friend. After each trip, readers are asked "And what do you think James liked best?" Four suggestions are given and listeners have the opportunity to make a personal choice (there are no "correct" answers). Recommended for ages baby to preschool.

  • Famous People Named James

    Famous People Named James

    Famous People Named James - James M. Barrie (author of Peter Pan); James Buchanan (U.S. President); James Earl Carter (U.S. President); James Dean (actor); James Garfield (U.S. President); James Earl Jones (actor); James Madison (U.S. President); James Monroe (U.S. President); James Polk (U.S. President); James Taylor (musician); James Belushi (actor/comic); James Blunt (singer); James Braid (golfer); James Caan (actor); James Caviezel (actor); James Coburn (actor); James Gandolfini (actor); James Garner (actor); James Lofton (football player); James Spader (actor); James Sutherland (hockey); James Van der Beek (actor); James Woods (actor); James Worthy (basketball player); James Cagney (actor)

  • Children of Famous People Named James

    Children of Famous People Named James

    Famous People who Named their Son James - Art Garfunkel (musician); Belinda Carlisle (musician); Bill Paxton (actor); Burt Lancaster (actor); Colin Farrell (comic); Della Reese (actress); Franklin D. Roosevelt (U.S. President); Geoffrey Rush (actor); Gladys Knight (singer); Helen Hayes (actress); James Caan (actor); James Cagney (actor); James Coburn (actor); James Garfield (U.S. President); James Monroe (U.S. President); Jimmy Carter (U.S. President); Joel Grey (actor); John Hughes (filmmaker); John McCain (politician); Jon Voight (actor); Kirk Cameron (actor); Mick Jagger (musician); Paul McCartney (musician); Robert Mitchum (actor); Rutherford B. Hayes (U.S. President); Sarah Jessica Parker (actress); Stella McCartney (designer); William Harrison (U.S. President)

  • Historic Figures

    James - Boy Baby Name - Historic Figures

    James Macpherson (1675-1700) - James Macpherson is often referred to as the Scottish Robin Hood and famous for his fiddle tune “Macpherson’s Rant” he played in the gallows awaiting his execution (later rewritten by the Scottish poet Robert Burns). He was born the illegitimate son to a Scottish Lord and a beautiful Scottish tinker (the equivalent of a gypsy woman). The Lord took him into his house and provided for him until he died, upon which time the child James was returned to his mother. He became a pirate of sorts, but never perpetrated a crime on the vulnerable or distressed; hence, his Robin Hood association (rob from the rich, give to the poor). A posse of rich Lords and farmers eventually captured him and he was sentenced to death. His famous “rant” sings in part: “Ach, little did my mother think / When first she cradled me / That I would turn a roving boy / And die on the gallows tree…Sae rantingly, sae wantonly, / Sae dauntingly gaed he; / He play'd a tune, and danc'd it roon' / And they hanged him from a tree.”

    King James I of England (19 Jun 1566 - 27 Mar 1625) - When Queen Elizabeth I of England died in 1603, she had one last trick up her sleeve. She bequeathed the throne to her first-cousin-once-removed, James VI of Scotland (who also happened to be the son of Elizabeth’s nuisance of a cousin, Mary Queen of Scots). This also transferred the royal power from the House of Tudor to the House of Stuart. James I reign is notable for a few things. First of all, he felt it was his “divine” right to rule with absolute power and therefore basically ignored Parliament until he needed them to help support his lavish lifestyle. Secondly, he didn’t quite know how to placate the religious issues pervasive throughout England (Elizabeth I had reinstated the Church of England to the Protestant faith) and yet all of Europe was predominately Catholic (so were many of the English for that matter). Complicating matters, the Puritans were an ever-growing sect of the Protestants and were demanding the eradication of all remnants of Catholic practices still permeating the church services. James basically told the Puritans to get lost (and they did, by sailing to America on the Mayflower in 1620). Despite his lack of diplomacy and insensitivities to religious matters, the publication of the King James Version of the Bible in 1611 was met with extensive approval. Another piece of history important to know about James I is that he was the ruling king when Guy Fawkes attempted to blow up Parliament and the king, intending to “blow the Scots back to Scotland.” That effort failed, but the British still “Remember, remember the 5th of November!” (1605 that is). James I died at the age of 58, and despite his relatively lackluster reign, he still had the affection of the people. His son, Charles I would inherit the throne.

    King James II of England (14 Oct 1633 - 16 Sep 1701) - James the II of England was the grandson of James I, the son of Charles I and the brother of Charles II (see the name Charles for more information on their reigns). In a nut shell, Charles I inherited the throne (from James I) and was eventually executed after Oliver Cromwell became “Lord Protector” of England and stamped out the monarchy for 11 years. After Cromwell’s death, Charles I’s son, Charles II, would return from European exile to re-establish the monarchy with the support of the English people. Charles II became known as the “Merry Monarch” due to his pursuits of pleasure (he was also a closeted Catholic, and converted to Catholicism on his deathbed), but he also knew how to play politics and keep the peace. His brother, the openly Catholic James II, would ascend the throne much to the chagrin of Parliament and the English people who predominantly did not want to return to Catholicism. So James II was immediately faced with overthrow attempts and his over-zealous defense did nothing to gain further support. Fortunately, for his detractors, James II’s first wife was Protestant, so his Protestant daughter Mary was recognized as the preferred heir along with her also-Protestant Dutch husband, William of Orange. The “Glorious Revolution” of 1688 ensued and James II was forced to abdicate or lose his life. His reign lasted a little more than three years.

    Kings of Scotland Named James (1406-1625) - No wonder the Scots love the name James. It was borne by several Scottish kings, covering over two centuries. Here’s a brief history of the Scottish kings named James. When the great Robert the Bruce failed to produce a male heir, the throne was passed to his grandson in the female line (Robert Stuart, son of his daughter, Marjorie), and thus began the House of Stuart in the illustrious history of the Scottish and British monarchy. Robert II's grandson, James I (1406-1437), was to prove one of Scotland's ablest kings. He was Robert III’s younger son (his older son David died suspiciously), so the younger son James was sent to France for his safety. Upon his return to take the throne, he was captured, imprisoned and held for ransom for 18 years. The ransom was eventually paid by Scotland, so James I came back to asset his authority (along with his new English bride). He centralized control of the Scottish crown, but was ultimately assassinated for the bad publicity that came along with that accomplishment. His son James II continued his father's policy of weakening the great noble families to bring more power to the House of Stuart. His son, James III, was responsible for the last great acquisition of Scottish territory through his marriage to a Dane (her dowry included the Orkney Islands and the Shetland Islands). With his death came his son and successor, James IV, who is notable for ending the quasi-independent rule of the Lord of the Isles, bringing the Western Isles under effective Royal control for the first time. He is also remembered for marrying King Henry VII's daughter, Margaret Tudor, thus laying the foundation for the 17th century Union of the Crowns. James IV's reign was during the European Renaissance, a time when Scottish culture blossomed along with the spread of education and the founding of St. Andrews University. James IV died in battle when they invaded England in support of the French in 1512. Regents once again controlled the Scottish government in the name of his son; the infant James V. James V would eventually escape the custody of the regents and go about his father’s work of subduing the rebellious Highlands, Western and Northern Isles. James V had a fairly successful reign but died shortly after another devastating campaign against England. Just before his death, the Scottish king learned of the birth of his only heir by his French noblewoman wife, a daughter: Mary, Queen of Scots. He apparently remarked: “it cam wi a lass, it will gang wi a lass" - referring to the House of Stuart which began with Walter Stuart’s marriage to the daughter of Robert the Bruce. Since Mary is a baby, the rule goes back to the regents. While Mary is still a toddler, King Henry VIII attempts to use military force to ensure Mary marries his son, Edward. So Mary is sent to France by her French mother in the hopes that she’ll marry the heir to the French throne. Her mother, Marie de Guise, stays behind in Scotland to look after her daughter’s interests. Finally, in 1550, England withdrew from Scotland completely and Marie assumes the regency, continuing to advance French interests in Scotland and keep Mary’s interests in-tact. In 1560 Marie died, but the Treaty of Edinburgh was signed, providing for the removal of French and English troops from Scotland. The Scottish Reformation took place only days later when the Scottish Parliament abolished the Roman Catholic religion and outlawed the Mass. Meanwhile, Queen Mary had been raised a Catholic in France. As planned, she married the Dauphin Francis in 1558, and become Queen of France on the death of his father the following year. When her husband died, Mary, now at the ripe old age of nineteen, decided to return to Scotland to assume her authority in a hostile atmosphere. Despite being Catholic herself, she refrained from imposing Catholicism on her largely Protestant subjects, thus straining relations with the chief Catholic nobles. Her reign was riddled with crisis: rivalries, the murder of her secretary, the murder of her second husband, and her abdication. She was eventually imprisoned in Loch Leven Castle during which time her infant son James VI would ascend to the throne. Mary eventually escaped from Loch Leven, and brashly attempted to regain the throne by force (don’t you just love Sagittarian women?). In Scotland, the Regents fought a civil war on behalf of James VI against his mother's supporters (talk about dysfunctional families!). Meanwhile, back in England Mary became a symbol of Catholic dissention and was eventually tried for treason and beheaded on the orders of her cousin Elizabeth I. So that’s how James VI became King of Scotland (eventually James I of England, more on that above). After that, Elizabeth I essentially hands him all of England, and the monarchy is unified.

    U.S. Presidents Named James (1809-1981) - Six Presidents of the United States bore the name James. The fourth President of the U.S. was James Madison (1809-1817) known as "His Little Majesty" (as he was the shortest of all U.S. President standing at 5’6” tall). James Madison was one of the Fathers of the Constitution and a brilliant, well-prepared politician. His presidency was defined by two things: the war of 1812 and the popularity of his wife, Dolly Madison. Next came the 5th U.S. President, James Monroe (1817-1825). He was known as "The Era of Good Feelings President" because of his falsely easy presidency. He was noted for the “Missouri Compromise” (which allowed Missouri to enter the union as a slave state, even though he had made efforts to send slaves back to Africa, think: Monrovia) and the “Monroe Doctrine” (which rejected European attempts to colonize the western hemisphere). The 11th U.S. president was James Polk (1845-1849) who is sometimes referred to as the hardest working president in history. Also referred to as "Polk the Plodder," the man set an agenda and made it happen. He secured the Oregon territory by threatening war with England, he brought California into statehood, he lowered tariffs, he established an independent Treasury and he went to war with Mexico to settle the Texas dispute. All of this in four years, and did not seek reelection. Unfortunately, he would die three months after his term ended. The 15th U.S. President, James Buchanan (1857-1861), was called "Ten-Cent Jimmie" for his insensitive comment that 10-cents a day was plenty for folks to live on. This James is usually ranked at the bottom of all presidents and was thankfully followed by Abraham Lincoln (to whom he said: “If you are as happy to be coming into the office of the Presidency as I am to leave it, then you are a very happy man”). James Garfield (1881-1881) was the country’s 20th President, whose presidency only lasted 200 days before being assassinated by a crazy man. Had Garfield served his term, historians speculate that he would have been determined to move toward civil service reform and carry on in the clean government tradition of President Hayes. He also supported education for black southerners and called for African American suffrage. Lastly, there was Jimmy Carter, the 39th U.S. President (1977-1981) who unfortunately inherited a White House riddled with problems after the Nixon/Ford debacles during a problematic time in U.S. history. While all historians agree that Carter was a president of great intellect, he was eventually referred to as "President Malaise" due to his “crisis of confidence” speech and the appearance that he did not have the White House under control. He is probably better known and respected for his accomplishments post-presidency.

Personality of the Boy Name James

The Three energy is powerful and enthusiastic. These personalities are cheerful, full of self-expression, and often quite emotional. They have an artistic flair and "gift-of-gab" that makes them natural entertainers. Their joyfulness bubbles over, and their infectious exuberance draws a crowd. The Three personality is like a child - forever young and full of delight. They are charming, witty, and generally happy people. The Three personality lives in the "now" and has a spontaneous nature. Threes seem to live with a bright and seemingly unbreakable aura that attracts others to them. In turn, they are deeply loyal and loving to their friends and family. Luck also has a tendency to favor number Threes.

Variations of the Baby Name - James

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