The name James is a variant of the name Jacob, Hebrew for "one who holds by the heel, outwitter".

James comes from the Low Latin Jacomus, a variant of the Latin Jacobus, which comes from the Hebrew Yakob. It came to English through Old French James, another form of Jacques or Jaques. Related names are the Italian Jacopo, Giacomo and Iago, the Spanish Diego, Jaime and Santiago, the Irish Sťamas/Seamus and the Hawaiian Kimo. Scotland is home both to the English form James and to Hamish, from the vocative (a Sheamais) of the Scots Gaelic Seamas.

Its hypocoristics are Jim and Jamie.

Several people named James are mentioned in the New Testament, including two, possibly three apostles, and one "brother of Jesus".

James was the name of seven Kings of Scotland, two of whom were Kings of England as well.
James was also the name of two Kings of Aragon.

James is the name of a band from Manchester, England, formed in 1982 and, according to reports, dissolved sometime in 2001, probably best known for their hit single, "Laid".