She’s Biblical and boasts a great nickname or two, but this one is as rare as can be.

Thanks to Alicia for suggesting Keturah as Name of the Day.

Sarah is an evergreen choice for girls. Hannah is both homespun and white hot. But the equally Biblical Keturah has never ranked in the US Top 1000.

Maybe it is because Keturah was something of an also-ran in the Old Testament. Sarah was the original wife of patriarch Abraham and mother to Isaac. Scholars debate Keturah’s status – the second wife of the grieving widower, or just a concubine? The Bible also tells us that the couple had six sons together. (Speaking of obscure names, their half-dozen answered to the appellations Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishback and Shuah.)

Speaking of debates, scholars also argue whether or not Keturah and Hagar are one woman or two. Hagar and Abraham also had a relationship, complete with a son called Ishamael. But as Hagar is only wearable by comic strip Vikings and the frontman for Chickenfoot, we’ll leave that issue aside.

Her name comes from the Hebrew word for incense. In American English, you’ll almost certainly hear keh TOOR ah or keh TOOR eh, but the name is rare enough that other pronunciations are possible. You might also see variant spellings, including Ketura, Katura and Katurah. The name was probably rediscovered during the Reformation, and all four versions appear in census records.

Famous Keturahs are rare. Keturah Kamugasa covers weddings for Uganda’s New Vision. And there’s an Israeli kibbutz named Ketura.

Odds are strong that your Keturah would never meet another.

Should she find her unusual moniker a bit much, there is no shortage of possible diminutives. Ketty springs to mind, but there’s also Tory/Tori or Teri/Terri. (Though Tori is deadly wedded to 90210 alum/reality TV darling Spelling and Teri feels dated.) It’s a stretch, but Keturah could even masquerade as classic-if-common Kate, especially with the Katura/Katurah spellings.

Keturah even comes by her K legitimately. While Kaydence, Kasidee and Krystle give some nameniks fits, Keturah wears her favored first letter without controversy.

If there’s any downside to Keturah, it’s that she might read overtly religious. After all, you’d almost have to explain her name by mentioning Abraham. If that doesn’t sit well with you, keep on searching.

But if a slightly spiritual vibe troubles you not, Keturah makes for a great, undiscovered gem of a name – feminine, historic, interesting but easy to pronounce. It’s hard to imagine why a name so appealing has yet to catch on.

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 Keturah. I love it! I have met a handful of others, but only in passing. As for a nickname, some call me Turah, but most just use my full name.

  2. i cant believe “my” name is the name of the day.. yes I have a very different spelling than the traditional ones but I LOVE IT!!! i’ve met several keturah’s only 2 with that spelling or close to it and a Katarah

  3. I knew a Keturah- my uncle’s sister. She came to some of our family parties before she got married. So it seems pretty wearable to me. I never heard of any nicknames for her.

  4. I really like Keturah. She is one of the few Biblical female names that makes me stop and go “ooo, aww.” I wouldn’t use her myself, but if I actually met one, I’d probably squeal with delight. I like the nickname options of Ketty, Kate, Tori, Tura or even Kit. I think it would fit right into among the tryndee K names, the plus being that she is actually legitimate and not made up like the others. She also has a pretty meaning.

  5. Nope, I just don’t like this one. I can’t even put my finger on why. It just doesn’t sound pretty to me, and the Old Testament factor doesn’t exactly enhance it’s appeal. Also, unless you enunciate very carefully, it’s going to come out as Ketch-ura, sounding more like ketchup. That said, I find all of the Kitty/Tori/Terry nicknames very appealing. I also associate Tori more with Amos than Spelling– and even if you do, there are worse associations than Tori Spelling. Besides, you never know when the next famous-by-association, world-class tool will become famous out of nowhere bearing your child’s name. Yeah, I’m talking to YOU, Spencer Pratt.

  6. I like Keturah’s sound, although I’d never use it myself. It’s interesting that some scholars suggest the Keturah of the Bible might be the same woman as Hagar since they’re mentioned in Genesis within a few sentences of each other as being two different women. Keturah is far and away the prettier of the two names. A child bearing this name would definitely have to spell it for people a lot, and I could see the nickname “Kitty” cropping up.

  7. I like Keturah. It’s a pretty new name for me – I first heard it only maybe six months ago on the Nick/Noggin show Yo Gabba Gabba. One of the little girls dancing to the music in one episode is Keturah (the kids shout out “My name is….” and they write the name on the screen, too, so you can’t get it wrong). In fact, she said her name more like keh-TYOUR-ah. At the time I didn’t know it was a religious name and actually thought it might be an invented name, but soon after I discovered it was a biblical name. For that reason, it doesn’t read all that religious too me – kind of obscure. And Tori said Amos before Spelling to me, but I might well be the odd one out for that one? In any case, I like Keturah – thumbs up.