It is named after Bec Abbey in Normandy, which was given land in this area (then part of the Streatham parish) after the Norman Conquest. Saint Anselm, the second Abbot of Bec, is reputed to have been a visitor to Tooting Bec long before he succeeded Lanfranc as Archbishop of Canterbury. Saint Anselm gives his name to the modern Roman Catholic church  which sits on the corner of Balham High Road and Tooting Bec Road. A relief sculpture of Saint Anselm visiting the Totinges tribe (from which Tooting as a whole gets its name) is visible on the exterior of Wandsworth Town Hall.
Tooting Bec appears in Domesday Book of 1086 as Totinges. It was held partly by St Mary de Bec-Hellouin Abbey and partly by Westminster Abbey. Its domesday assets were: 5 hides. It had 5½ ploughs, . It rendered £7.
The area includes Tooting Commons, which features Tooting Bec Lido, the largest fresh water pool in England as well as a small athletics stadium. Often considered part of Tooting, it forms the northern part of the latter suburb.