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.
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.
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!