Today’s choice is quite rare. But if other ends-in-s choices like Marcus, Miles and starbaby Atlas are fashionable, maybe this one isn’t completely out there.
Annelise for suggesting Zenas as Name of the Day.
Zenas is properly considered part of a cluster of names, including Zeno, Zenon, Zenodoros and Zenodorus. They all pay homage to Zeus, ruler of the Gods in Greek mythology. Swap out the Z for an X, however, and the name relates to the Greek word for stranger.
Zenas is foreign to 21st century parents, but he was sometimes heard in the 19th century. He even cracked the US Top 1000 back in 1885, coming in at #935.
Nineteenth century Zenases included:
- Z.F. Moody served as governor of Oregon in the 1880s. Z.F. stood for Zenas Ferry. Born in Massachusetts, the surveyor first arrived in Oregon via the Panama Canal. And you though air travel was arduous;
- Zenas Gurley, Sr. was one of Joseph Smith, Jr.’s first converts to the Latter Day Saints movement – the Mormons – in the 1840s;
- Pennsylvania-born Zenas Leonard was a memoir-penning Rocky Mountain fur trapper in the 1830s;
- In 1856, Zenas Howard headed west, young man, finally settling in Oregon’s Rogue Valley. His descendants opened a vineyard and named it honor of great-great-great-great-grandpa – so you can now drink Zenas Wines;
- Born in 1833, Zenas Bliss attended West Point and eventually became a Major General in the US Army.
What inspired the parents to choose a pagan appellation for their baby boys?
The Bible, of course.
Zenas was a lawyer – which probably means he was schooled in Mosaic law, not chasing ancient ambulances. He was one of the seventy disciples (some put their number at 72) dispatched by Jesus to evangelize. For his troubles, he became a saint.
There were also plenty of saints named Zeno and a pair of Greek philosophers. Zenon is also heard.
While he’s a rarity today, Google searches turn up a handful of men with the name. There’s a former professor of business at NYU’s Stern School, an attorney in Minnesota, an Atlanta disc jockey and a venture capitalist. There’s also a young female trombonist named Zenas Kim.
It is a staggeringly unusual name. And if you’re curious about the pronunciation, well – Zenas has his unfortunate nickname built right in – ZEE nahs. Zenon and Zeno might actually wear better on a modern child. But Zenas has history and that great Z at the top. For a truly daring parent, he’s one to consider.