22 Names to Substitute for Sarah
Sarah is undoubtedly a classic girls' name, a favorite from the Bible. But it's been used so widely for so long you may be seeking a substitute. Here are some possible girls' names that might stand in for Sarah.
Description:In classical mythology, Cora—or Kore—was a euphemistic name of Persephone, goddess of fertility and the underworld. Kore was the name used when referencing her identity as the goddess of Spring, while Persephone referred to her role as queen of the Underworld. Cora gained popularity as a given name after James Fenimore Cooper used it as the name of his heroine, Cora Munro, in his 1826 novel The Last of the Mohicans.
Origin:Hebrew and Arabic
Meaning:"blooming flower; God remembers"
Description:Zara has multiple origins, but most notably is a variation of Zahrah, a name derived from the Arabic zahrah, meaning “blooming flower.” Zara can also be a diminutive of the Bulgarian name Zaharina, a feminine form of the Hebrew Zechariah. Today, Zara is heavily associated with the Spanish fast-fashion empire of the same name.
Description:Naomi was once a primarily Jewish name from the Old Testament that referenced the mother-in-law of Ruth. Because of this, it is a symbolic name given to girls on Shavuot when the story of Ruth is read in the synagogue. The French version is Noemie, in Italian Noemi. Naomi also has separate Japanese origins as a unisex name meaning “straight and beautiful.”
Origin:Biblical place-name, Hebrew
Description:Cool meets Born Again meets Brad and Angelina, who made Shiloh an instant star when they chose it for their daughter. While Shiloh has risen from obscurity thanks to its celebrity baby use, it hasn't become a star the way brother names Maddox and Pax have. It entered the Top 1000 in 2007, one year after the birth of Ms. Jolie-Pitt.
Description:Ruth, with its air of calm and compassion, was the third most popular name in the 1890s, remaining in the Top 10 through the 1920s. It's still in use today as some parents tiring of Rachel and Rebecca are giving Ruth a second thought. Some see such Old Testament girls’ names as Ruth and Esther rising on the heels of boy equivalents Abel and Moses.
Description:Serena, a name used since Roman times, was given fresh life by tennis star Williams, and then again with the leading character on Gossip Girl, Serena van der Woodsen. There have also been Serenas on soap operas and other shows from Bewitched to Law & Order.
Description:Leah was derived from the Hebrew word le’ah, meaning "weary." In the Old Testament, Leah was the first wife of Jacob, the mother of one daughter, Dinah, and six sons including Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah. She is considered one of the most important biblical matriarchs.
Origin:Russian, diminutive of Greek Alexander
Description:Sasha, largely male in Russia--and also spelled Sascha and Sacha--is an energetic name that has really taken off for girls here, chosen by Jerry Seinfeld (using the alternate Sascha spelling) and other celebs. The Barack Obamas use it as the nickname for their younger daughter, whose proper name is Natasha. But in line with a trend toward softer-sounding boys' names like Asher and Joshua and thanks to Borat star Sacha Baron Cohen, Sasha also still has life as a boys' name too--it's popular in France for boys and girls almost equally.
Description:The name is derived from the term commonly used in the Book of Psalms, which has a many Hebrew scholars in confusion over its meaning. Given its context in the Bible, Selah is likely to mean “to praise” or “pause and reflect upon what has just been said." Lauryn Hill used this name for her daughter. It is the last word in Anita Diamant's novel The Red Tent.
Origin:Diminutive of Sarah
Description:Sally is a cheerful, fresh-faced girl-next-door name that was originally a nickname for Sarah, but has long been used independently. Sally was popular in the eighteenth century and then again from the 1920s to the 1960s--it was just outside the Top 50 around 1940. Though it hasn't been heard as a baby name for decades, we can see Sally bouncing back, especially after her exposure as young Ms. Draper on Mad Men--the Nameberries rank it at Number 621, and it's a Top 100 name in Sweden.
Origin:Latin, Italian, Irish, Spanish, and Portuguese
Meaning:"dear; friend; face"
Description:Cara is a simple, sweet, Italian endearment that enjoyed its greatest popularity from the 1970s through the 1990s, reaching a high of Number 189 in 1977. Though the name has been on the decline in recent years, that could change soon due to the rising celebrity of English model/actress Cara Delevingne, who played Enchantress in Suicide Squad. Cara is a highly popular choice in Ireland.
Meaning:"under God's rule, companion in night conversation"
Description:Alluring and lovely — and much more distinctive now than Samantha or Tamara. Samara is a city in western Russia, a winged seed like the whirlygigs that fall from maple trees, as well as a bona fide first name that could make a more unusual update on Samantha or Mara. It can also be a variant spelling of the Arabic name Samira or Sameera.
Description:In the Old Testament, God changed Sarai's name to Sara, so this would make a very legitimate variation.
Meaning:"God will judge"
Description:As the song says, "Dinah, is there anyone finer?" Dinah is a charming, underused Old Testament name, long shunned for its old slave-name stereotype--Dinah was the family cook in Uncle Tom's Cabin--but it has a rich literary and musical resume and would make a vivid, southern-accented name for a contemporary girl.
Meaning:"date palm tree"
Description:Tamar is a rich, strong Old Testament name sometimes given to girls born on the holiday of Sukkoth, as palm branches were used to make the roof of the sukkah. In the Bible, there are several Tamars, including a daughter of King David and also Absalom's daughter, who is praised for her 'fair countenance'.
Description:A popular Irish name virtually unknown here, but one that feels like it could follow in the footsteps of Siobhan and Saoirse. It's pronounced SOR-ka, but with a little hiccup between the 'r' and the 'c' that's difficult for non-Gaelic speakers to reproduce. Spelled (and pronounced) Sorsha, she is a major character in the movie Willow.
Description:Graceful Indian choice that may sound feminine to the Western ear but is in fact the name of a male god. One form of worship of Surya that may be familiar to Westerners is the sun salutation in yoga.
Description:This is a rare and lovely form of Susannah commonly heard in Israel. Shoshana Shapiro — nicknamed Shosh — is the character played by Zosia Mamet on the hit HBO series Girls — a fact that could give the name an upward thrust.
Origin:Hebrew, variation of Sarah
Description:Sera is a truly international variation heard in Hebrew-speaking, Spanish and Italian cultures. Sera can also spelled Serah. Sera might also be a short form of Seraphina.