VF cover Suri CruiseShe often makes the list of crazy celebrity baby names, but guess what?  As of 2012, this choice was poised just outside the US Top 1000.

Our Celebrity Baby Name of the Day is Suri.

Before the Prince of Wales was married, back when Angelina Jolie only had two children, a few weeks before Gwen Stefani became a mom, there was the TomKat pregnancy watch.  The year was 2006, and we’d watched the marriage of Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman disintegrate via magazine covers and gossip blogs.  Then there was the whole Oprah couch-jumping episode.  E! ranked the romance of Tom and Katie #2 on their list of 100 Best Things in Pop Culture.

The A-listers were among the first to keep mum about baby’s arrival, though that’s since become more and more common.  (And more and more difficult, when your celebrity BFFs will accidentally leak your name on Twitter, Gwyneth, and paparazzi camps outside of hospitals.)  Then – at last! – came the Vanity Fair cover story, complete with photos.

In the article, Tom claimed that the happy couple stumbled on Suri in a baby name book, and loved the meaning – red rose – instantly.  It was a little bit of a backtrack from their initial statement, which claimed Suri was Hebrew for princess.

Which is true?  Speculation abounds.  Among the many possibilities:

  • Several scholars of Hebrew have dismissed the idea that Suri is related to Sarah.  Others contend that it is a legitimate connection, from the pronunciation Sura or Sureh.
  • In the ancient world, Sura was a significant center of Jewish life and home to Sura Academy, for the study of the Talmud.
  • It is a Japanese word for thief.  A 2000 Kazuo Kuroki film was titled Suri in Japan, and Pickpocket in the US.
  • In French it means soured, from the verb surir. (Though sourire means to smile, and souri is also close to Suri.)
  • The reference that the couple stuck with – a Persian name meaning red rose – seems like it may be legitimate.  I’ve also come  across Surika.
  • Suri means sun in Sanskrit, and is used as a surname.
  • More than one Hungarian place is called Sur, and, as a result, Suri is a possible surname.

The list goes on.

Even more interesting, the name had some use pre-TomKat.  Six girls received the name as far back as 1958, and 20 newborn girls were named Suri in 2004.  There’s a lemur voiced by Hayden Panettierre back in 2000’s Dinosaur.  Other characters were called Aladar, Kron, Plio, and Yar – fanciful inventions, all.

Suri also brings to mind Surrey, as in southeastern England, and the horse-drawn carriage originally manufactured there – fringe on top optional.

None of this makes Suri an especially appealing choice, but she’s been on a steady climb since Miss Cruise’s 2006 arrival.  184 girls received the name that year.  By 2012, she’d reached a new high – 241 newborn Suris.  It is almost certainly due to the non-stop coverage of the famous Suri.

In 2012, it took just 252 newborns to break into the US Top 1000 definitively.  Three names with 251 ranked: Ashtyn, Jessa, and Katalina.  Had ten more parents went the same direction as the Cruises, Suri would rank.  As is, Suri looks poised to break into the US Top 1000 in 2013.

Besides all the press generated by the little miss, could Suri’s sound be on trend, too?  No, we’re not embracing Yuri or Murray.  But we do seem to like Rory for girls, along with Siri for smartphone assistants, and short names in general.

Suri is one Hollywood choice that has gone from “what were they thinking” to “hmmm … we like that name, too.”

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 have an Iranian friend called Suri – it’s a totally mainstream name in that community. What annoys her is when people call her ‘Suriah’ by accident, as that’s the Persian name for Syria – “I’m not a country!” 😉

      1. The reason why we gave our cat such name is because cats respond better to short names ended in “i” (so we were told). :]
        One of the reasons for naming the cat as Suri was that it sounded similar to a person’s name, but at the same time it was not one (we find that calling a pet Ann or Margaret is strange), neither was identified as such. In summary a pet name.
        These characteristics apparently are now changing but I still have the same perception as I did.

  2. I never thought Suri sounded weird – it even seemed a bit boring as celebrity baby names go.

    I’m surprised to read how little history it has as a name – it sounds so namey! I guess because it’s similar to so many other names. It reminds me of the African name Zuri, and a little bit of the Persian name Soraya, as well as Sarah, Siri etc.

    1. ah, thanks, I was just going to ask if Zuri was related at all, as I know someone who named their child Zuri.