Zoe is one of those surprising names that has been on the Top 1000 nearly every year since 1880, but it's just recently been zooming toward the top. Now at its highest point ever, Zoe still makes an ideal fitting in-standing out name, though increasingly leaning toward the fitting-in side of the equation.
The history of the name begins in the third century when the Alexandrian Jews translated Eve, which means 'life,' to the Greek equivalent Zoe. Zoe was in use as far back as the Roman classical period, and was popular with the early Christians, who bestowed it with hopes of eternal life, but it didn't migrate to the English-speaking world until the mid-nineteenth century.
Zoe Washbourne was a strong warrior in the sci-fi show Firefly, Zoe Hart the leading female character on Hart of Dixie, Zoe Barnes a journalist on House of Cards, and kids might recognize Zoe from Sesame Street.
Zoe is currently hot in Europe, now at Number 11 in France.
Zoe has spawned a number of variant spellings, most successful of which is the phonetic Zoey, which is now ten places ahead of Zoe, at Number 20. Zoey has been embraced by TV scripters--she has been seen on the Nickelodeon show Zoey 101, The West Wing and How I Met Your Mother. Zoie has also been adopted by enough parents to bring it to Number 571.
Wide-eyed actress Zooey Deschanel, whose first name is pronounced the same as Zoe, was named after Zooey Glass, the male protagonist of the J. D. Salinger novella Franny and Zooey.
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