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.