Do My Z Names Mean What I Think They Do?

Colleen:  Well I believed the baby name books on my first four kids and now im worried they dont really mean what I think they mean. Thanks for that! 😛 I have a Zaynah, Zeke, Zoey, Zachary.

Elizabeth: What do you think they mean… ?

Colleen: Beautiful, god given strength, life, god remembers

Elizabeth: Yeah, that’s mostly accurate.

Zaynah is an Arabic name, ضایٔنه , and refers to beauty or beautiful. I’ve seen other sources suggest it is related to a word that simply means “good”.

Zeke is a short form of Ezekiel. Ezekiel means “strength of God” (or similar), but in shortening it to Zeke, you removed the root word for “God”. So, Zeke means only “strength“. The “God given” would be totally implied, as it is no longer in the name at all.

Ancient names with religious background are very special and beloved, but over the millennia they have undergone transformations which may, in essence, alter their meanings.

Zoey definitely means life.

Zachary can definitely be interpreted to mean God remembers.

I’d say you did pretty good, and the name books didn’t steer you too wrong this time. 😉 Name books will often lazily conclude that a shortened version of a name means the exact same thing as the original, but in many names such as Hebrew ones, where the root words can clearly be divided and meaning determined, it should be expressed how the compound is altered.

“You mean THIS is what our ancestors lived in???”

Think of compound words in our own language… take treehouse. Say your kids decided to call it “house” for short, instead of treehouse. If a dictionary 200 years in the future tells you that “house” means the same as “treehouse”, how accurate would you consider that? Not very, right? File this under Reason #3 why I’m not too fond of most baby name books.

If you have questions about the accuracy of interpretation of your kids’ names, ask Elizabeth!

UPDATE May 2013:  Colleen welcomed a son– Zander!

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6 responses

    • Yes, but then what do you do when multiple sources all say the same thing, but get it wrong? This happens all the time on the internet, and even in the baby name books.

      It seems the only way to cross reference everything is to dabble in language studies. Learn the idiosyncrasies of various languages and verify facts on an etymology level. I don’t propose everyone do this with every name… that can be awfully time consuming and not everyone is interested in that. However, when selecting that one great name for your baby, I think it’s great advice to truly dig deep into its origins (preferably before they are named).

      • Yep! I did my research and everything I read said the same thing… but I don’t know Hebrew so I wouldn’t know necessarily the difference between Zeke and Ezekiel.

  1. Pingback: “Which Baby Name Sources Can You Trust?” | First & Middle Baby Names

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