baby name ZebedeeThe baby name Zebedee combines impeccable Old Testament roots with a cool, current sound.

Thanks to LadyRay for pointing out that this post needed an update!


In Hebrew, Zebadiah means “God has bestowed.” It’s the name of more than one Old Testament figure.

It sounds like so many names from that era: Jeremiah, Obadiah, Nehemiah.

And while the Z makes it a little more current and cool, Zebadiah mostly suggests a name drawn from the ancient world.


The baby name Zebedee, on the other hand, feels a little more modern and far less expected.

But Zebedee is simply another version of Zebadiah.

It appears in the New Testament. He’s the father of fishermen – and future apostles – James and John.  Together, they’re often referred to as “sons of Zebedee.”

We know a little bit about his story. Scholars note that Zebedee appears to be well-off. His wife is usually called Salome, and sometimes Mary Salome. Later accounts suggest that she’s related to Mary, making James and John cousins to Jesus.

But mostly it’s just his name that survives. The meaning of Zebedee is shared with Zebadiah: “God has bestowed.”

And, of course, nearly any Biblical name has enjoyed some use over the centuries.


And so the baby name Zebedee has remained in sparing use across the ages.

In the US, it peaked in the 1950s, when nearly two dozen boys received the name some years.

It’s back in use again. As of 2022, 21 boys were named Zebedee.


Among the men named Zebedee across the years, a few stand out:

  • Artists Zebedee Jones and Zebedee Armstrong
  • BBC announcer Zeb Soanes
  • Nineteenth century Mormon pioneer Zebedee Coltrin


But the most famous figure to wear the name in recent years is fictional.

From 1965 to 1977, The Magic Roundabout ran on the BBC, immediately prior to the news.

It was originally French. But when the stop motion animation series was imported, they changed the characters’ names, as well as personalities and even plot points. Instead of translations, the British version is something new.

Zebedee started out as Zebulon in the original. He’s a jack-in-the-box in both versions, with magical powers.

The show also gave us Zeebad, a moustachioed jack-in-the-box bent on doing evil.

Nothing in those characters would’ve encouraged parents to consider any of the Zebs as a boy’s name.

And so Zebedee remained obscure, even as the show itself became a favorite among 70s TV in England.


Besides Zebedee, Zeb could easily be short for Zebulon, or the Hebrew Zebediah.

It might also shorten to Zed, Zee, or even Dee. But Zeb is pretty much a perfect name for the longer, more dramatic Zebedee.


Today the picture of the baby name Zebedee presents an interesting mix.

It’s a traditional choice borrowed from the Bible, associated with two of Jesus’s disciples. As the father of the apostles James and John, Zebedee widely known among Christians, though others might not immediately place name name. That might make for a serious, buttoned-up kind of choice.

But Zebedee sounds like the opposite. It’s a high-energy choice, the kind that sounds at home zip-lining or racing a mountain bike.

And because it doesn’t end with -iah, Zebedee might be the perfect quirky, classic Biblical name for Nehemiah’s brother.

It works as a middle name option, too, giving a child that cool Z. in the middle spot.

Overall, Zebedee is one of those under-the-radar names that could be exactly what parents are after.

What do you think of the baby name Zebedee?

First posted on April 29, 2010, this post was revised and re-published on July 17, 2023.

baby name Zebedee baby name Zebedee

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. Zebedee is a name I totally love, but my husband couldn’t get on board with it. So I used it for a baby I miscarried. I would still love to use it again, though.

  2. How sad that the “Zebedee” description has seem to have went missing for this post! Hopefully it comes back.

    It’s a name that’s got a lot of energy behind it. Could totally see this being an artist’s baby’s name.

  3. Yikes! Looks like this write up is lost in translation! Think you could find it again? We’re seriously considering it for our boy due in a couple of weeks…

  4. Zebedee sounds fun, and I do like Zeb as a nickname too. Another Z name I am fond of is Zebulon- I’ve like that name ever since I heard it in U.S. History class 🙂

  5. Zebedee is my favorite boy Z name. It’s awesome. I love how it sounds and rolls from my both, and Zeb is awesome.

  6. I love the nickname Zeb no matter how you get to it. The only one I’ve known IRL had a brother Heath, so maybe they liked one-syllable names. Both sounded good with their last name.

  7. I really like Zebedee! 😀

    My first association is with ‘The Magic Roundabout’ – so all my British friends and family would think I was nuts, if I used the name. But I was excited when I found out that the name is in the Bible too – giving it credibility beyond a kids cartoon. The name did show up in a Bible reading when I was pregnant with our son – but my husband wasn’t a fan of the name – too weird for him and he doesn’t even know ‘The Magic Roundabout’.

    JNE – now I want to use Oliver Zebedee! We have very similar tastes in names. 😀 I’d be excited if you did get to use Zebedee as a first name.

      1. Oooh and another big plus for Oliver Zebedee is that we could use the nickname Oz! When we were considering Oliver it seemed strange to go from a one syllable girl’s name (Rose) to a three syllable boy’s name – so we needed a nickname for Oliver, but we weren’t really into ‘Ollie’. I like Oz though. Not sure hubby would go for that either though! 😛 Or having a third.

      2. Now I’m suffering namers remorse for going with George in the middle spot… not really, I couldn’t have left George behind… but kinda sorta a tiny bit 🙂

      3. Aww, I didn’t mean to give you namer’s remorse! George is cool! I’m starting to like him as a first name again. I did just read Curious George to my 2 year old.

        I totally have middle name remorse over my daughter’s middle name – having neither name picked before she was born and then feeling pressured to come up with a middle name right on the spot after choosing a first name. (Hubby wanted to wait until he called his parents (who live locally) until we could announce both names – I think we called before we picked a middle name. Wish I’d gone with something more unusual or with family significance.)

        I instant messaged hubby and asked if we could have a boy and call him Oliver Zebedee “Oz” and he just laughed. 😛

      4. British American, That’s not a no! 🙂

        And Oliver Zebedee nn Oz is such an awesome name. I would definitely put that one on the site.

      5. @BritishAmerican – remind me of Rose’s middle… I’m sure it’s lovely!

        I’m plenty happy with George, really; it leaves Zebedee for a possibility in the future, even if I’m pretty sure that won’t happen. (I said that after Imogen too, so it goes to show how much I know!) I’d be thrilled to hear of an Oliver Zebedee nn Oz somewhere out there… Oz is right up my ally (Oscar was on our top 3, take-to-the-hospital, list).

      6. Rose is Rose Abigail – pretty much because I wanted something with three syllables to balance out her first name. 😛 Rose Araminta would have been much cooler! 😛

        I guess hubby already knows someone who goes by Oz and that’s putting him off that far away possibility.

        Rose was going to be Oscar if she had have been a boy! Though Henry didn’t end up being Oscar. The Oscar Meier wiener song was an issue for me. I do like the letter O though.

        Just wait until Oliver is 2-3 and maybe you’ll reconsider! 😛

      7. Thanks!

        Rose seems to think her name is Rose *last name* Abigail. Then sometimes to tease her, I throw out a random middle name and then she’s quite adamant that she’s Rose Abigail. 🙂 And I do like the “father’s joy” meaning.

  8. Well, this one was on the short list for us! Admittedly it is pretty far from my usual naming preferences, but it’s zippy and just so darn fun to say! (Would I annoy a child by saying his name over and over for the pure fun of saying it? Yeah, probably.) Plus it has a few nn possibilities that are all likable: Zeb, Zed, Zee. So why did we choose NOT to use it? Well, it’s because of the above-mentioned show, “The Magic Roundabout” – my husband grew up with it and he just couldn’t get past the association, even though he admitted that he liked the name quite a bit otherwise. We toyed with it in the middle spot, but I really wanted it up front… although Oliver Zebedee would’ve been fun (we even searched for a mn with a zippy initial to liven up Oliver, like Z, Y, X, or Q… but ended up with G). Not that it’s even remotely a consideration, if we end up with a 3rd and it’s a boy, I WILL revive it as a name option, even if it doesn’t go stylistically with the other two… I like it that much!

  9. This is kind of cool. I’d never use it myself, but I would probably love it on someone else. I love how its so full of character. Zeb is definitely a cool nickname option.