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Category: Susannah

Oh, Susannah!

OhSusanna

When I was a little girl I wanted to be named Susie.  Cute, perky, popular: the name Susie seemed to embody all the things I wanted to be, everything not associated with prissy, proper Pamela.

While I’ve come to prefer Pamela to Susie, I’m still fascinated by all the variations of that early beloved name.  Susannah is one of my very favorites, for example, undoubtedly inspired by my early love of Susie.  If I had six daughters, I’d certainly name one of them Susannah.

Alas, I had only one daughter, and a husband who didn’t like the name Susannah – upon hearing it, he could never resist breaking into a chorus of Oh Susannah!  Which, obviously, is one of the few big downsides of this otherwise beautiful name.

The original version of the name is Shoshana, Hebrew for ‘lily.’  Appearing in both the Old and the New Testaments, the name wasn’t common until the seventeenth century, when it was sometimes found in the archaic forms Susanney and Shusan or Shusanna.

Over the centuries and throughout the Western World, the name has moved in and out of fashion in so many different forms that they might comprise a chapter of a name dictionary all by themselves.  The major variations include:

SUSANNAH and SUSANNA – What’s the difference between these two versions of the same name?  The ‘h’ ending makes the first more properly Hebrew, and is the spelling used for the Old Testament figure falsely accused of adultery.  Susanna, usually the Italian, Swedish, Finnish, Russian, and Dutch version of the name, appears in the New Testament and as the name of two virgin martyrs.  SUSANA is the usual Spanish spelling. Susannah feels more old-fashioned but also more complete, relating to such currently fashionable names as Hannah and Mariah.  No form of Susannah has been in the Top 1000 for nearly ten years, though they all hold some style currency.

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