Z Names: Beyond Zoe & Zachary

There were 10,000 Zacharys born last year and almost 5,000 Zoes, but that was about it for Z-starting names in the Top 100.  This doesn’t mean there aren’t  lots of other names with this distinctive initial worth considering, from the contemporary sounding Zayden to the ecclesiastical Zebediah.  Here’s a categorical breakdown:

MAINSTREAM GIRLS

ZELDA –The longest running American Z-girl, in the Top 1000 for most of the years from 1880 to 1967, the now dated sounding Zelda was long attached to the troubled wife of writer F. Scott Fitzgerald, though that could change through its association with a Nintendo game character.
ZOE — Sharing mega-popularity with cousin Chloe, the Greek Zoe–which means life–is currently at #56, with offshoots ZOEY and ZOIE following behind. Though it sounds and feels modern, its use dates back to the third century.
ZARA –This name entered the mainstream in the early 1980s when England‘s Princess Anne bestowed it on her daughter.

MAINSTREAM BOYS

ZACHARY –In the Top 100 for a quatrter of a century, peaking at #12 in 1994, Zachary is the one classic Z name. The English version of the Hebrew Zahariah, it also has historic cred via 12th President Zachary Taylor, and several coolizing spellings and short forms.

ZANE — One of the short, strong boys’ names zipping up the list, the cowboyish Zane was long associated with western writer Zane Gray–who was actually christened Pearl!!!

BIBLICAL BOYS

ZACCHEUS
ZACHARIAH
ZEBEDEE
ZEBEDIAH
ZEBULON
ZEDEKIAH

NOUVEAU NAMES

ZABE
ZADE
ZADEN/ZAYDEN
ZAILEY
ZALE
ZELL — hero of video game Final Fantasy
ZEN
ZEPHYR
ZERO
ZERRICK
ZHANE

NICKNAME NAMES

ZAC, ZAK
ZAKO –Hungarian
ZANDER — Diminutive of Alexander on the rise as an independent name, frequently heard as movie and TV characters
ZAZA, ZSA ZSA –Hungarian
ZEB
ZED
ZEKE
ZIGGY
ZUZI
ZUZU –heard annually via It’s a Wonderful Life

EXOTIC GIRLS

ZABANA –Native American
ZAFIRA — Arabic
ZAHARA — Multicultural name chosen by Angelina Jolie for her Ethiopian-born daughter
ZAHRA — Arabic name used for several starbabies
ZALAAfrican
ZANNA — Polish
ZARIA — Arabic
ZENA — Greek
ZETA — Greek
ZILLA — Hebrew
ZINAAfrican
ZINAIDA — Russian
ZITA — Greek

EXOTIC BOYS

ZAFAR — Arabic
ZAHAVI — Hebrew
ZAHIR — Arabic
ZAHNGerman
ZAIREAfrican place name
ZAKI — Aracic
ZAMIELGerman
ZARED — Hebrew
ZEVI — Hebrew
ZIV/ZVI — Hebrew
ZOLTAN/ZOLTEN — Hungarian
ZUBIN –Hebrew
ZURIAfrican

Z VARIATIONS OF S NAMES

ZADIE
ZALMAN
ZANDY
ZANDRA
ZELENA
ZELIA
ZELMA
ZOFIA
ZUZANNA

OTHERS

ZELIG — Yiddish name made famous by the eponymous Woody Allen movie
ZENO — Ancient Greek philosopher name
ZENOBIA — Greek name appearing in Hawthorne and Edith Wharton novels
ZEUS — Supreme Greek Olympian god
ZHIVAGO — Russian literary name
ZION — Hebrew unisex name now rising for both girls and boys
ZINNIA — An appealing floral choice with more zest than most.
ZOLA — French literary name used by Eddie Murphy for his daughter
ZOOEYMale Salinger name now growing in popularity for girls
ZORA — Slavic name associated with writer Zora Neale Hurston, a leader of the Harlem Renaissance
ZULEIKA — Arabic name of the fatally attractive heroine of Max Beerbohn’s Zuleika Dobson

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25 Responses to “Z Names: Beyond Zoe & Zachary”

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Lesley Says:

April 15th, 2009 at 1:23 am

I love Z names! We just named our new kitten the french Zazie. We also had a dog named Zia.

Zariah (pronounced like Mariah) is a name that I am starting to hear more of around here, and Zaire has always been a favorite.

Lola Says:

April 15th, 2009 at 9:28 am

Zelda has been my favorite girl name forever! I absolutely love it and would use it if I thought it would fit another girl. Zuleika is a favorite, that literary one is awesome. You forgot an exotic: Zoya, the Russian Zoe. Easy to figure out pronunciation, even in English and an easy spell too. Makes it a winner for me!

Alicia Says:

April 15th, 2009 at 10:58 am

Zebedee, Zion and Zinnia are some of my FAVORITE names.

Kruther Says:

April 15th, 2009 at 11:32 am

I know a little boy named Zeal, which I think is great.

linda Says:

April 15th, 2009 at 11:47 am

Thanks for mentioning Zinnia, which somehow got omitted–I’ve added it now.

JNE Says:

April 15th, 2009 at 12:31 pm

Zebedee and Zinnia are favorites of mine. Zebedee is such fun to say and I like that Zeb, Zee, and Zed are all valid nicknames for it. Zinnia is just a great zippy and feminine name. Zafira from the list and also Lola’s Zoya are great Z names. I really dig Zebulon too, but I think that most might pronounce it ZEB YOU LON and then it sounds kind of sci-fi/spacey, but it actually is a cool name with plenty of history.

As for the Z variants of S names, I’m not such a fan; there are so many great Z names without going to the extent of replacing an S with a Z to make one up.

linda Says:

April 15th, 2009 at 12:45 pm

I guess I should have mentioned that most of those Z variants of S names are foreign versions, not made up.

ricamaca Says:

April 15th, 2009 at 3:26 pm

On the TV Show NCIS…there’s a Ziva!
I like the spunk it has!

JNE Says:

April 15th, 2009 at 4:57 pm

Thanks for clarifying that they are more foreign names than made up. In that case, though, some are likely not pronounced with the same z sound we know in English… Written “z” in other languages range from nearly “s” to “ts” to “zh” (as the s in measure)… that probably applies to a lot of the other names on the list… just a thought.

Tirzah Says:

April 15th, 2009 at 6:30 pm

Don’t forget ZELLA, a German girls name used in the ’30’s (I believe). It can piggy back on all of those ELLAs out there.

Lola Says:

April 15th, 2009 at 6:49 pm

Ooh, Tirzah, Zella’s what I’d nickname a Zelda of mine!

Wasino Says:

April 20th, 2009 at 12:22 am

Yay, I love Z names so much! I have an 18 month old named Zafira, and her nickname is Zaza. It’s fun to say and I still feel shivers and thrills when I say it. I get odd looks from some people, but also many compliments.

I’m expecting baby #2, and hoping for a boy partially because I haven’t found another girl name I love nearly as much. And as much as I love Z names, one Z baby is enough for me.

I was surprised Zipporah was not on this list. Historical, biblical, and absolutely fantastic!

Diana Says:

May 15th, 2009 at 10:06 am

My friend’s son is named Zohn. That’s neat, huh!

Lisa Says:

July 3rd, 2009 at 6:34 pm

My daughter name is Zuri and I get compliments on her name.

Mary Says:

July 21st, 2009 at 4:49 pm

Just a warning: “Zadie”, which was in the z-for-s-names category, means “Grandpa” in Yiddish–I have seen that problem mentioned on several message boards.

zaria Says:

July 24th, 2009 at 4:32 pm

my name is pretty cool..zaria (pronounced zah-ree-uh) everyone pronuonces it zahr-ree-ah though

Lucy Says:

March 26th, 2010 at 6:04 pm

How is Zooey pronounced? is it like Zoe or is it zoo + ee?

momto2 Says:

April 12th, 2010 at 4:07 pm

love Zooey for a girl and Zinnia is a new favorite of mine.

Heather Says:

May 12th, 2010 at 2:25 am

We are expecting a son in september, and I think we just found his name! I love Zerrick! There are also 3 great nicknames I can think of… Zer(zaire) Eric & Ricki… Thanks for the wonderful site We have been searching for months. I Love it!

Del Says:

October 14th, 2010 at 1:49 am

Love the name zaria. We are due in 4 weeks and if it’s a girl she will now be called Zaria rose Tis fitting as zaria is a spin off of Sarah which is Wat I used to call my dad who has now pAssed away and rose is the middle name he gave me. Ta for the Z names love it… Now I need a boys name.

Zailey Says:

December 5th, 2010 at 4:14 pm

My name is Zailey and on this site it says its a made up name. Not true at all. the meaning is ‘open meadows’ or ‘princess in waiting.’ Its an Irish name.

Ruth Says:

March 2nd, 2011 at 12:56 pm

I know a little girl named Zayir – pronounced ZI-Ear – like the city in Iraq. I just LOVE that name!

andrea Says:

April 19th, 2011 at 1:03 am

my middle name and my daughters name is Zita. i guess its a really old name but i love it!

Zuzanna & Other Z Names | Chlokie For Names Says:

October 15th, 2011 at 9:19 am

[…] did a great blog post on this subject. They mention Z names that are originally S names – like Zuzanna. Some of my […]

MrsHaymond Says:

September 19th, 2013 at 12:45 pm

My husbands name is Zerrick and I absolutely love it because no one else has it. I call him Zee or ZuZu for a nickname

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