Looking for a Biblical pick that’s less common than Hannah, but more accessible than Zipporah?

Thanks to Julie for suggesting Keziah as Name of the Day.

Remember Cassia from Monday? Keziah is her Hebrew equivalent, one of the long-suffering Job’s daughters in the Old Testament.

Job actually had three girls, born as a blessing after his sufferings – besides middle child Keziah, there was big sis Jemima and little sis Keren-Happuch. Because all three sisters received an inheritance from dad, some think of the phrase “Job’s daughters” as signifying equality between genders.

Just like Cassia, Keziah means cinnamon – or, technically, cinnamon-ish. (Cassia is actually a separate herb.)

Also like Cassia, she has multiple possible pronunciations. But while most make Cassia a two-syllable name, the three-syllable keh ZEE ah is probably closest to correct in this case.

It’s far more difficult to pin down Keziah’s spelling. You’ll also find Kezia, Ketzia and Ketziah. Like many an obscure Biblical moniker, she was in vogue from the 1700s onward.

This lends Keziah a certain colonial cool. She appears on the list of colonial names for girls over at Nameberry, along with other Biblical rarities and virtue names. She’s the perfect sister for Selah or Patience.

There’s a royal and a presidential twist to this name, too. Kezia Obama was the first wife of Barack Obama, Sr. (And mom to our 44th president’s half-brother, Malik.) Then there’s the twentieth century Princess Kezia of Toro, later the Queen. (Yes, Toro is a lawnmower. Turns out it is also a traditional kingdom within modern day Uganda. Who knew?)

Keziah has never ranked in the US Top 1000, but a related name has fared well in recent years. Contracted, two-syllable form Keshia or Keisha became a popular choice for African American parents in the 1970s. Keisha, the most common spelling, ranked from 1967 through 1998. The elaboration Lakeisha also appeared in the Top 1000 from 1972 until 1993.

Two young actresses wear the name:

  • Keshia Knight-Pullman rocketed to fame as Rudy, the youngest of The Cosby Show’s Huxtable clan. The name rose with her;
  • Then there’s Oscar-nominated child actress Keisha Castle-Hughes. The New Zealander is now semi-retired from acting and mom to Felicity-Amore.

But most Keishas are twenty-something, if not thirty-something. Today, she sounds rather dated. (Even masculine variant Keyshawn is on the decline.0

There’s also Kizzy, a diminutive for all the Keziah-related names. Alex Haley used the name for a character in Roots. Kizzy debuting at a dizzying #223 in 1977, but was out of the US Top 1000 by 1979. Today, with the Roots reference far less familiar, she sounds too lightweight to stand on her own.

Which brings us back to Keziah. Closer to her original form, she sounds unexpected and intriguing. Job’s daughters were considered virtuous and lovely – there’s no downside to this Biblical pick. Besides Kizzy, Kes could serve as an appealing short form.

If Old Testament names are your style, she’s certainly one to consider.

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. I love this name. I’ve met a couple Kezias of British descent – I have found Kezia (the h-less spelling) in some old British birth records as well. kez-ee-ahs, in my case.

    I am debating the Kezia vs. Keziah issue, but I really like it. I love nature meanings a la Hazel and Ivy, and I love Biblical names of the less-than-ubiquitous type. So if I could just pick a spelling….? Kezia/Keziah/Ketsia is adorable.

    Wait, Ketsia nickname Kitty? Cute or stupid, I haven’t decided.

    1. Ketsia – interesting. I love the idea of Kitty and Kit as nicknames, and I can see that they’re harder to get from Keziah. I think I’m partial to the ends-in-h spelling. It helps sell the obscure Biblical vibe to my eye … but that might just be me.

  2. I named my daughter Keziah, she loves her name and I call her Kezzy for short. Makes it more special because Keziah was one of Jobs beautiful daughters.

  3. I’m a Kez-ZYE-uh and have always loved my name and its connotations although many people seem fazed by the dipthong and resort to Kez.

    1. I get that too, i really don’t understand whats so difficult about it! I’m a Kessia, pronounced Keh-zee-uh and i heard every pronunciation under the sun.
      I usually just give up and call myself Kes 🙂

      1. Oh, I LOVE Kes! One of my favorite nicknames – I knew a Kristina E. Smith (not actually Smith, another common last name that starts with S) and she answered to Kes, too.

  4. Reminds me very much of Hezekiah, hence me wanting to use the ZYE not ZEE pronunciation.

    While I can appreciate it’s Biblical roots, I’m passing on this one. Just holds no appeal for me.

    (funny you mention Selah because I have a friend that just named her 10th child this!)

    1. I suppose Selah is appropriate for a 10th child, since the word, while difficult to translate, means something akin to resting and reflecting.

  5. Sorry, not a fan here — in any way, shape, spelling or pronunciation. I appreciate the Biblical link, but amid the sea of “K” contrived names these days, it looks made up to me. I also think it looks more masculine than feminine, reminiscent of Isaiah or Jeremiah.

  6. I’ll add my voice to the throng and proclaim that I, too, once knew a Keziah and yes, she did pronounce it “keh-ZYE-uh”. As a young child I was quite fond of the name. Then one day my cousin and I were flipping through my name book and she pointed at Keziah and proclaimed that she, “Liked “KEH-zee-uh.” That sort of killed it for me when it comes to favourites, but I still think it’s a pretty name.

    Incidentally, I have a suspicion that my sister’s considering Zipporah for her daughter. I’m not sure whether she’s considered the “zipper” connotations.

    1. Zipporah, really? That’s wild! Zippy is a cute nickname – Haven Kimmel wrote a great memoir called “A Girl Named Zippy” about growing up in rural Indiana. But I don’t know how I’d feel about Zipporah/Zippy at, say, 12 or 17.

      1. I’d never thought of Zippy as a nn for Zipporah — makes sense though. The only Zipporah I’ve known was German/Indian and went by Zippu for short.

        When my sister and her husband first discovered they were expecting a baby they made a mistake of sharing their name selections — including Zipporah — with his notoriously outspoken family. It was laughed at, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they end up going with something else. They now know that that they are in fact expecting a girl, but are being discreetly mum about their name picks.

  7. You’ll find quite a few young Keishas here in NZ. The youngest I’m aware of is about 5 or 6. I had no idea until recently how ‘dated’ it was in the US. Perhaps Ms Castle-Hughes’ success has seen a few more parents use it in recent times here.

    You’ll also find a few Keziahs here of various ages and their parents probably drew inspiration from one of our most important female authors (Katherine Mansfield) and her child character Kezia Burnell.

    Every Keziah I’ve met here has pronounced their name keh zye uh. I’m not sure which pronunciation I prefer. One had older siblings called Jude (girl) and Barnaby.

  8. Funny, I keep wanting to say keh ZYE uh, too. With such an unusual name, it really wouldn’t be a big deal if you choose a different pronunciation.

    All those Andreas who had to say “Actually, it’s ahn DRAY uh.” They have my sympathy.

  9. I like this better than Cassia, somehow. I know a Keziah who pronounces it Ke-ZYE-uh, so I don’t know what the official “correct” pronunciation is.

  10. I keep wanting to say keh ZIE uh when I look at it. My pronunciation issues aside, it’s not a bad name (said properly), but I suspect Cassia would be easier to wear. Both of those are preferable to Keisha – I have a friend/colleague named Keesha with a son, Keyshawn. She’s a lovely woman, but it doesn’t make me warm to the name. From the biblical aspect of Keziah, I think I prefer Keturah, which also has that K so many people seem to like right now.