It wouldn’t be a surprise if today, or very soon, you will be spending some time with Jacob Black and Isabella Marie Swan — more affectionately known as Bella.
“Eclipse,” the third installment in the Twilight series hits movie theaters today, with enough vampirism and lycanthropy to last until late 2011, when the fourth film in the saga is slated to come out.
The Twilight craze is so pervasive that Jacob and Isabella were the most popular baby names of 2009, according to the Social Security Administration. Jacob has been at the top of the boys’ names list since 1999, but this is Isabella’s first time as the top girl’s name. So, there’s no denying the effect pop culture has on anthroponyms. In fact, over the past few weeks, South African hospitals have experienced a World Cup baby-naming fever. One woman named her daughter Fifa, after soccer’s international governing body, FIFA. Another couple named their twins Bafana and Mexico, the first two teams to play in this year’s World Cup. (“Bafana Bafana” is the team name for host country South Africa.)
But back to the more pressing issue at hand: Whence come the names Jacob and Bella?
In the Book of Genesis, Jacob was the name of Isaac’s son. In Hebrew, the name is Ya’akov, meaning heel- or leg-puller. Jacob had a twin brother Esau, who was born first. Hence, Jacob followed on the heels of Esau. Ya’akov also went by another name: Yisra’el, or Israel, which means to “persevere with God.”
Isabella’s etymology is a bit less clear. The name is believed to be a Spanish color name, meaning “greyish yellow.” (The name Bella has Italian roots, meaning “beautiful” or “fair.”)
And here’s an added Twilight word bonus: “Eclipse” is being released in IMAX, which is an amalgamation (or portmanteu) of two words — “image” and “maximum.” Impress your friends. Then sit back and enjoy the show.