On the heels of Zane, here’s another zippy Z-name.
Thanks to Laney McDonald for suggesting Zora as Name of the Day.
Zara is the 20th century appellation with a lengthy list of possible sources. Zora has more in common with nature names like Sky, Star or, well, Dawn. In several Slavic tongues, Zora means dawn. It puts her in good company – nature names are hot, and plenty of popular choices have a nature link, even if it is a subtle one.
Other choices from the current Top 100 that fit this pattern include:
- Lily, Lillian
So while Dawn is fading, you might expect Zora to be doing well these days. And yet, despite placing in the US Top 1000 most years from 1880 through 1939, she’s gone unranked since 1940.
Is it her -ora ending? Nora, Aurora, Kimora, Cora and Norah are all found in the US Top 500, suggesting that Zora would be in good company. (And Aurora is, of course, another name meaning dawn.)
It’s not a lack of inspiration, either. While Zora Andrich – the winner of reality television’s Joe Millionaire back in 2005 – might not have impressed, there’s also literary giant Zora Neale Hurston.
The Harlem Renaissance was underway when Zora Neale Hurston arrived in New York City in 1925. She was soon at the center of the movement, publishing the literary magazine Fire!! with Langston Hughes and several other writers we still read today. In 1937, she penned Their Eyes Were Watching God, still considered one of the most important novels of the 20th century. Her hometown of Eatonville, Florida, hosts an annual Zora arts festival in her memory.
And yet, despite a literary pedigree and appealing meaning, Zora is relatively undiscovered.
With one foot in Eastern Europe and the other in African-American history, Zora could be the perfect choice for parents seeking an ethnicity-spanning name. She’s even a compromise pick when one parent loves Clara and the other prefers Zaylie. She’s clearly feminine, with just the tiniest hint of a frill. If you love Ingrid, but your partner prefers Cassandra, Zora could feel like the middle ground.
In fact, maybe that’s Zora’s problem – she’s a little bit of everything, but isn’t so closely tied to any category to get a boost. It doesn’t detract from her charms, though – in fact, if you’re looking for a simple, modern, feminine pick that is unlikely to race up the popularity charts after Zoe and Ava, Zora might just be the name for you.