On the Name “Jimmer”

Matt B.’s excellent post requires, I believe, a footnote on the name “Jimmer.” Inasmuch as that proper name has now invaded the lexicon, being used as noun, verb, adjective and even adverb, surely interested persons are going to come looking here, in the Mormon blogosphere, for a lexical treatment of the word.

The name “Jimmer” ultimately derives from the Hebrew name Ya’akov (= Jacob), Abraham’s grandson who would be given the new name Yisrael (= Israel) and whose twelve sons would become heads of the twelve tribes of Israel. The name means “to take by the heel,” and thus has the connotation “supplanter.” Just as the younger twin Jacob would supplant his elder brother Esau, so Jimmer would eventually supplant his elder brother TJ.

In the New Testament the name Ya’akov is transliterated into Greek as Iakobos. English translational tradition represents this name in the NT as “James,” even though it is really the same name as Jacob in the OT. Greek Iakobos becomes Latin Iacobus, which becomes late Latin Iacomus, which then comes into the romance languages in various ways, such as Italian Giacomo and Spanish Jaime. In French the name splinters into two: Jacques and Iames. This latter name gets anglicized as “James” in English. The rumor that James was used to represent Jacob in the NT so as to honor King James is not true. Similarly, the rumor that Jimmer is related to Lebron, the other King James, is also not true.

James has a number of diminutives, one of which is Jimmy, and Jimmer is simply the diminutive Jimmy replacing the -y with -er. Although Jimmer is 6’2″, he too is considered diminutive on the basketball floor.

The Prophet Joseph foretold all of this in the King Follet Discourse, where he stated “Now, if Jimmer had the keys you might talk about James through all eternity and never get the keys.” By “keys” he was of course referring to a three pointer, say ten feet beyond the arc at the top of the key.

Note: Sports journalists are free to copy this entry verbatim as a sidebar in their published stories. You’re welcome.


  1. Kevin, as someone who didn’t know who Jimmer was until this morning, I must say that this post is exactly what I needed today. Thank you.

  2. The KFD ref. sealed the deal.

  3. AHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAH. hilarious.
    (and I have an MA in Linguistics)

  4. Well done, Kevin.

  5. Pure genius. *bows in deepest show of respect*

    Can’t wait to read this in SI at some point.

  6. Nothing but net, Kevin.

  7. An honor to know you.

  8. First I ever heard of this guy was two Sundays ago when our Stake President mentioned in a brief talk that he used to play BB with Jimmer’s dad in Albany. I wondered at the time why I should care, and I am still wondering.

  9. Barney and Bowman, ftw.

  10. Observer (f.k.a. Eric. S.) says:

    Good one. I wonder if James goes by Jimmer amongst his peers.

  11. *high five*

  12. Kevin Barney says:

    My understanding is that he goes by Jimmer in all contexts.

  13. I had an English professor in college named Jimmers. He invited us over to his house where he offered us his homegrown. I (politely) declined. I always thought it was a cute name, though.

  14. I’d love to hear Skip Bayless refer to this post in another effort to dethrone the “The Prince.” If nothing else, it’d elevate the tone of my morning TV.

  15. I kept waiting for a tie-in to the “Courts of Love” post.

  16. I knew you’d figure out a way to recycle that Iames stuff. Ball hog.

  17. StillConfused says:

    I still don’t know who Jimmer is. Guess I need to be more tuned in with the interwebs. Though I did just learn that Jerry Sloan resigned.

  18. StillConfused, your soul is in jeopardy.

  19. Still confused, consult master google .

  20. Pretty dopey name…but then one of my kids has a pretty weird name too.

  21. Got to love Jimmer! Your site is great! Hey I know this is shameless but I really think you might like our blog too http://onlyinthebubble.blogspot.com/2011/01/jimmer-fredette.html

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