If you saw box office smash Inglorious Basterds, you heard fictional Nazi bad guy Hans Landa call out this name in a grisly, memorable opening sequence.

If Stella is a star, why not Shoshanna? Thanks to Serenity for suggesting our Baby Name of the Day.

Shoshannah, Shoshanna, or Shoshana is closer to the original Hebrew form of Susannah. The sho became a sou in Greek, hence all those girls (and possibly one boy) named Sue – and Susanna, Suzanne, Susan, and so on.

The Biblical figure was a virtuous woman falsely accused of adultery. Daniel helps clear her name; the story appears in the Book of Daniel, but only in some versions. It’s not considered part of the cannon by most Protestants.

But you could consider Shoshanna a Biblical babe, an Old Testament appellation with ancient roots. Better still, she’s botanical – the name derives from the Hebrew word shoshan – lily. Some suggest that she can be traced back to the Egyptian word for lotus, and in modern Hebrew, she’s often translated as rose.

If you met a Shoshanna born in the twentieth century, she was almost certainly Jewish and possibly Israeli. Shoshana Damari was a famous Israeli singer in the 1940s, best remembered for her song “Kalaniyot.” For yet another floral hook, the lyrics are about a girl gathering anemones.

American parents might think of Shoshanna Lonstein. She made waves in the 1990s when she started dating king-of-the-small-screen comic Jerry Seinfeld. Shoshanna was all of seventeen; Seinfeld was, well, older.

More recently, the small screen has given us Shoshannah Stern. You might remember her turn as Silas’ girlfriend in the early seasons of Weeds on Showtime.

Then came Quentin Tarantino. He worked on Inglorious Basterds for more than a decade before its 2009 release. A 1977 Italian film shares the name and a few similarities, but mostly this is Tarantino’s huge, violent rewrite of World War II history, where the good guys manage to auf a big chunk of the Nazi leadership – including the Führer – thanks to a lovely young French theater owner – who is actually a lovely young Jewish woman on the run after her entire family has been slaughtered.

Christoph Waltz’s portrayal of Hans Landa was the Cannes/Oscar winner role, but Shoshanna becomes the heroine of the piece, a farmer’s daughter who has lost everything and figures out how to get spectacular revenge. Mélanie Laurent played Shosanna, and the false identity she assumed – Emmanuelle Mimieux. Laurent is big news in Europe, where she’s a past Romy award winner, but this was her first major role in the US.

Nicknames abound – Sosie and Sanne spring to mind, but doubtless there are more.

The lingering question isn’t really about Shoshannah’s sound – she’d fit with Savannah and Isabella just fine. While she’s never made the US Top 1000, she’s not completely unfamiliar. The question is, much like it could be tough to be an Ingrid if your roots aren’t Scandinavian, can you be Shoshanna if you’re not even a little bit Jewish?

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. Could you please tell me Shoshanna Damari family Contact they are refer to our root.

  2. My name is Shoshana and I’d never think of it as Lolita-esque, though I’m certainly not foul-smelling. In Israel, by the way, it’s considered an old-fashioned name.

  3. Inglorious Basterds sold this name for me. Also, my middle name is Suzanne, a combination of both my grandmothers’ names. Suzanne and Shoshanna are both forms of Susan, so it could be a way to pass on the name without being direct.

  4. Ugh… a bit like Lady Gwyn, I LOVE Susannah, only that I hate Shoshanna. The only one I know is a foul-smelling lady who lives alone in a disgusting little room and spends her days on the computer reading blogs on how to lose weight, is very unfriendly and ‘closed’… it’s kind of a bad reminder of the name…

    1. Ah, but have you seen Inglorious Basterds? The character is really amazing, and it is easy to see a parent hearing the name in the movie and having a totally different image – beautiful, brave, courageous.

      But yes, we all have those names that remind us of someone we’d rather not think of when we see our child’s smiling face!

  5. I like Shoshanna, But I LOVE Susannah, so I would use the English version on preference alone. That being said, I do think that it would be odd to meet a non-Jewish little girl (or woman) with that name. Names like Rebekkah, Rachel, and Jacob have been used by non-Jews for decades, so if Shoshanna was a bit more mainstream, it might seem more acceptable.

  6. My first and only thought is of Shoshanna Lonstein: ex-Seinfeld Lolita girlfriend turned talented clothing magnate.

    My favorite permutation is Suzanne; it’s on my baby name list.