Zakai: Baby Name of the DayZakai sounds like a modern mash-up of Zachary and Kai, but this newly discovered boys’ name has more to it.

Our Baby Name of the Day comes from this list.


Will we ever use up all the Old Testament names?

Probably not. Or at least, we haven’t yet. Because Zaccai or Zakkai comes from a Hebrew name meaning pure. There’s a minor Old Testament character by the name. He’s mentioned as the head of a large family returning from exile.

In Latin, the name became Zacchaeus.

It would be easy to wrap this one in with Zachary. Except that name ultimately comes from Zechariah – God remembers.

Zakai’s meaning is more straightforward: pure.


The Jewish sage Yohanan ben Zakkai lived and taught in the first century, during the era of the Second Temple. His writings are part of the Mishnah, the first major written collection of Jewish oral tradition.

He’s an important figure, one that might inspire some parents. Except Zakai isn’t listed as a boy’s name on Jewish baby name websites. None of the other spellings appear, either.

Visit the Sea of Galilee today, and you can visit his grave, in the town of Tiberias, considered a holy city.

It does often appear as a surname, typically spelled Zakkai. So that might explain some of the name’s uses.

By the Numbers

The name debuted in the US data back in 1998, when six boys were given the name. It’s gained steadily since, reaching 65 boys in 2006 and 104 boys in 2015.

It tipped into the Top 1000 with the latest data set, representing 239 births.

Zach + Kai?

So what pushed the name into wider use?

The surname is one possibility, but I suspect this name’s appeal comes down primarily to sound.

Biblical boy name Zachary peaked in the 1990s, but it remains a Top 100 staple today.

Kai can claim many origins and meanings, but we tend to think of it as a Hawaiian name meaning sea. And it’s a fast rising choice for boys, poised just outside of the current Top 100.

Zakai combines those sounds – the modern classic Zachary with the white hot Kai. And vowel ending names feel fresh and novel today, so that’s another plus. The initial Z gives nearly any name a boost, too.

It might feel a little too new to some families today, but in our age of Elijah and Isaiah, I can imagine Zakai fitting right in.

Do you prefer Zachary or Zakai? Or maybe just Kai?

Zakai: Baby Name of the Day

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 really like this one, easy to say, great meaning, has some history but relatively unknown. I’ve been interested in names for decades, and yet every once in a while I get introduced a new gem like this, which is always a delight.

  2. I like it. As far as it as a used Jewish name I think Zaki got transliteration traction. Same name in Hebrew. Personally I think I would spell it Zaccai, which might help English speakers put the accent on the second syllable. But it’s used.

    I should ask my husband if he likes it. He vetoed a bunch of other Hebrew Z names I like.