Biblical name, borne by the son of Abraham, who was nearly sacrificed by his father according to a command of God which was changed at the last moment. A ram, caught in a nearby thicket, was sacrificed instead (Genesis 22:1–13). Isaac lived on to marry Rebecca and become the father of Esau and Jacob. The derivation of the name is not certain; it has traditionally been connected with the Hebrew verb meaning ‘to laugh’. It was borne by both Christians and Jews in the Middle Ages and was taken up by the Puritans in the 16th century.