You don’t have to be French to name your daughter Desiree, but you probably ought to have some Middle Eastern heritage to use this one.

Thanks to Shelly for suggesting the exotic Arezoo as Baby Name of the Day.

Arezoo is Persian, and she’s a word name, meaning wish or desire. The name has traveled to neighboring cultures, resulting in respellings, including the Turkish Arzu, Arzoo, Arezu and Arezou.

A quick history lesson: up until the early twentieth century, Iran was called Persia; today, Iran refers to the nation, while Persian is often use in a cultural context, and refers to the nation’s official language. For our purposes, you’re most likely to meet an Arezoo in Iran, but she’s a Persian name.

Clearly, she’s got some appeal to parents in those parts of the world. To English speakers, however, Arezoo is pretty obscure, and sounds a bit like a possessive for a pair of gamekeepers – our zoo – rather than a given name. So let’s say straight up that I can’t imagine non-Persian (or Turkish or Afghan or the like) parents considering this choice. Even if Arezoo is a valid heritage choice, it’s a tough one to wear in modern America. Other Persian choices, like Parisa, are more accessible in Duluth or Des Moines or Dover.

And yet there are famous bearers of the name, including:

  • Arzu Ece, a Turkish singer from the mid-90s, known for competing in the Eurovision Song Contest;
  • Turkish hoopster Arzu Özyiğit, a frequent member of her country’s women’s national team;
  • Along the same lines, Arzu Göllü has competed internationally with in women’s volleyball;
  • On a more glamorous note, Arzu Yanardağ is a Turkish model;
  • Arezoo Petrossian is a director, and there’s also Arezoo Afshar, an actress.

While it is tricky to track down an Arezoo, they’re undeniably out there. Not only are there just enough uses of the name to argue for her legitimacy, there are plenty of Iranian and Persian names directories, like this one, listing Arezoo as an option. A blogger at considered the choice for her daughter earlier this year.

But here’s where I need to admit the limits of my name knowledge: I haven’t a clue if I’m pronouncing Arezoo properly. Some searching suggests that the emphasis is on the second syllable, and I’m saying the first syllable as if it rhymes with car – ar ZOO. It’s possible I’m completely wrong; it’s equally likely that the name sounds slightly different in Istanbul than Tehran. I can confirm that’s pretty close to the pronunciation in Azerbaijan, so if you need a name that can travel from Buffalo to Baku, this one might work. But Sebastiane gives the opposite emphasis: AR zoo.

Despite Arezoo’s legitimacy, she’s not the most accessible choice. But her meaning is lovely, and you could call her Ari or Zuzu, two appealing options that would be right at home in the US.

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. My name is Arezou and I do love it, particularly its meaning. Thanks go to my parents for choosing that 🙂
    And thank you for this writing about my name.
    About syllable emphasis, I myself prefer it on the 1st syllable as it makes it more beautiful.

  2. ‘A’ as in Ana, not Anna. ‘E’ as in end, never as in cedar or an ay sound. ‘Zoo’ = zoo ;-). Emphasis on the first syllable. These guidelines will work for most Persian names, but beware there is a short ‘a’ as well, which isn’t distinguished in most transliterations, e.g. Niloufar – NEE-loo-far doesn’t end like the word ‘far’; it’s a short ‘a’ followed by a rolled ‘r’. One more of my favourite girl names: Parvaneh – PAR-vaa-neh, meaning butterfly :-).

    Fwiw – ‘French’ is to ‘Francais’ as ‘Persian’ is to ‘Farsi’.