The name is derived from the Hebrew יִצְחָק (Yitzchaq) which is most likely related to the Hebrew verb for laughter, as according to Gen. xviii. 12, Sarah laughed when she heard the angel prophesied that she would bear a son at 90 years of age.
The name is borne in the Old Testament by the son of Sarah and Abraham. One of the most noted accounts between Isaac and his father was when God commanded Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, Isaac being spared at the last moment when God realized that Abraham would sacrifice his own son in order to follow God’s commands.
Isaac later married Rebecca and fathered Esau and Jacob.
Isaac is considered an important patriarch among the Jews and even among Muslims.
In Western Europe, the name did not catch on among Christians until after the Protestant Reformation, in Eastern Orthodox Europe, Isaac was commonly used among Christians since the Middle Ages.
Currently, Isaac is the 37th most popular male name in the United States, (2008), his rankings in other countries are as follows:
- # 23 (Australia, 2008)
- # 30 (Canada, B.C., 2008)
- # 96 (Chile, 2006)
- # 39 (England/Wales, 2008)
- # 453 (the Netherlands, 2009)
Other forms of the name include:
- Isaak (Albanian)
- Ishaq إسحٰق, إسحاق (Arabic)
- Sahak Սահակ (Armenian)
- İshaq (Azeri)
- Isak Ісак (Belarusian)
- Ishak (Bosnian/Indonesian)
- Isaak Исаак (Bulgarian)
- Isaac (Catalan/English/French/Galician/Portuguese/Spanish)
- Izak (Croatian)
- Izák (Czech)
- Isak (Danish/Norwegian/Swedish)
- Isach (Danish: archaic)
- Izaäk (Dutch)
- Iisak (Estonian)
- Ísakur (Faroese)
- Iisakki (Finnish)
- Isaaki ისააკი (Georgian)
- Isaak (German)
- Isaakios Ισαάκιος (Greek: Modern)
- Yitzchak/Yitzhak/Itzhak יִצְחָק, (Hebrew)
- Izsák (Hungarian)
- Ísak (Icelandic)
- Íosác (Irish-Gaelic)
- Isacco (Italian)
- Isaacius/Isaacus (Late Latin)
- Aizeks/Isacs (Latvian)
- Izaokas (Lithuanian)
- Isaaku Ісаакъ (Old Church Slavonic)
- Izaak/Izak (Polish)
- Isaque (Portuguese)
- Isac (Romanian)
- Isaak Исаак (Russian/Ukrainian)
- Iosag (Scottish-Gaelic)
- Isaka (Swahili)
- İshak/İshâk (Turkish)
A common English short form is Ike.
Finnish diminutives are Iikka and Iirro.
A Yiddish diminutive is Sekel.
In France, the designated name-day is December 20.
A notable bearer is physicist and mathematician, Isaac Newton (1643-1727).
- Hoffman William F and George W. Helon, First Names of the Polish Commonwealth: Origins and Meanings (Polish Genealogical Society of America, 1998)