The Zs of Slavic names

Male:

Zdravko is a South Slavic name meaning “healthy.” The feminine form is Zdravka.

Żelimysł roughly means “to desire thought” in Polish.

Zhelyazko means “iron” in Bulgarian.

Zlatan is a South Slavic name meaning “golden.” The feminine form is Zlata.

Zoran is a South Slavic, Czech, and Slovak name meaning “dawn.” This is the middle name of my Slovenian–American character Achilles, the name his family and church community call him. The feminine form is Zora, the name of one of my Serbian characters. She survives Jasenovac with her mother and four older sisters.

Zosim is the Russian, Ukrainian, Bulgarian, Serbian, Slovenian, and Croatian form of the Greek name Zosimos (likely to survive; viable). This would be a very symbolic name to give a baby fighting for his life.

Female:

Zdenka is a Slovenian, Slovak, Czech, and Croatian name meaning “create, build.” The male form is Zdenko.

Zimana means “winter” in Serbian.

Zinoviya is the Russian and Ukrainian form of the Greek name Zenobia (life of Zeus). I have a character by this name, after the grandma she’ll never know. Her nickname is Nova.

Zornitsa means “morning star” in Bulgarian.

Zumreta is the Bosnian form of the Turkish name Zümra (emerald).

Zvezdana (Serbian, Slovenian), Zvjezdana (Croatian), Zvezdelina (Bulgarian), and Zvezda, Dzvezda (Macedonian) mean “star.”

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The many forms of Sophia

British novelist Sophia Lee, 1750–1824

Sophia, which means “wisdom” in Greek, has been extraordinarily popular over the last 15-20 years, after decades of being unfashionable and considered geriatric. In 1997, it shot into the U.S. Top 100, at #94, up from #124 the previous year. It continued rocketing upwards, reaching #1 from 2011–13. In 2017, it was down to #5.

It’s also #3 in Canada; #5 in Austria; #10 in Northern Ireland; #11 in England and Wales; #15 in Australia; #17 in Switzerland and Scotland; #18 in Ireland; #23 in New Zealand; #42 in The Netherlands; #54 in Belgium; and #90 in Norway.

Saint Sophia with her daughters Faith, Hope, and Love

Sofia, which is modern Greek, Italian, Catalan, Romanian, Slovak, Estonian, Finnish, Portuguese, Scandinavian, and German, has also been enjoying great popularity. It entered the U.S. Top 100 in 2003, at #97, and shot up to its peak of #12 in 2014. In 2017, it was #15.

It’s also #1 in Italy, Galicia, and Chile; #2 in Spain (as Sofía) and Finland; #3 in Switzerland and Denmark; #8 in Belgium and Portugal; #12 in Catalonia; #19 in Norway; #31 in England and Wales; #32 in France; #37 in Canada; #38 in Australia; #42 in Austria; #43 in Scotland and Ireland; #44 in The Netherlands; #45 in Sweden; #50 in Northern Ireland; #61 in New Zealand; and #97 in the Czech Republic.

Regent Sofya Alekseyevna of Russia (1657–1704), Peter the Great’s older halfsister, who would’ve been an excellent empress in her own right

Sophie, which is French, Dutch, English, and German, has also been experiencing great popularity. It entered the U.S. top 100 in 2007, at #82, and attained its highest rank of #51 in 2011. In 2017, it was #106.

It’s also #1 in The Netherlands; #4 in Scotland; #5 in Ireland; #6 in Northern Ireland; #8 in Austria; #9 in New Zealand; #11 in Australia; #16 in England and Wales; #23 in Canada; and #25 in Switzerland.

Heroic Sophie Scholl (1921–43) of the anti-Nazi White Rose group

Other forms of the name include:

1. Zofia is Polish, and my favourite spelling. The Z just gives it so much character, zing, and personality. I loved this name from the first time I saw it. The nickname is Zosia (ZO-sha). Its Slovak form is Žofia (Zho-fee-yah).

2. Sofya is Russian. Its base nickname is the familiar Sonya.

3. Sofiya is Ukrainian, Russian, and Bulgarian.

4. Sofija is Serbian, Macedonian, Latvian, Lithuanian, and Croatian.

5. Soffia is Welsh. The variation Soffía is Icelandic.

6. Zsófia is Hungarian.

7. Sofie is Czech, Dutch, German, and Danish. The last two letters are pronounced separately in Czech and Danish, not as one.

8. Žofie is also Czech, with the same pronunciation rules.

9. Sopio is Georgian. Another Georgian form is Sopia.

10. Kopi is Hawaiian. A rarer Hawaiian variation is Kopaea.

Polish writer Zofia Nałkowska, 1884–1954

11. Sovaia is Fijian.

12. Suvfia is Greenlandic.

13. Zofija is Slovenian and Lithuanian.

14. Sufia is Arabic.

15. Soffá is Sami. Another Sami form is Sofe.

16. Sofio is Esperanto. Traditional (as it were) female names in Esperanto end in O, despite that being seen as the mark of a male name in other languages.

17. Suffía is Faroese.

The Zs of Medieval names

Male:

Zakarriyya (Moorish Arabic): Form of Zachary (God remembers), derived from Hebrew name Zecharyah.

Zavida (Serbian): “To envy,” from root zavideti. It was superstitiously used to divert the evil eye from children. The rare modern Serbian name Zaviša descends from Zavida.

Zbignev (Slavic): “To dispel anger,” from roots zbyti and gnyevu. The modern forms are Zbigniew (Polish) and Zbygněv (Czech).

Zeisolf (German): “Tender wolf,” from roots zeiz and wolf.

Zhelimir (Slavic): Hypothetical form of modern Serbian and Croatian name Želimir (to desire peace). Its roots are zheleti (to wish, to desire) and miru (peace, world).

Zierick (Flemish)

Zilar (Basque): “Silver.”

Zilio (Tuscan Italian)

Zorzi (Tuscan Italian): Form of George (farmer).

Zuan (Venetian Italian): Form of John (God is gracious), from Hebrew name Yochanan. The feminine form was Zuana.

Zumurrud (Moorish Arabic): “Emerald,” from Persian root zumrud.

Female:

Zalema (Juedo–Catalan, Ladino [Judeo–Spanish]): Form of Arabic name Salimah (to be safe).

Zaneta (Tuscan Italian): Nickname for Giovanna (a feminine form of John).

Zanobi (Tuscan Italian): Form of Zenobia (life of Zeus).

Zelante (Tuscan Italian)

Zelva (Baltic)

Zezilia (Basque): Form of Cecilia (blind), from Latin root caecus.

Zianna (Basque)

Zita (Basque): “The lord, the master,” from Arabic root as-sayyid. The masculine form was Ziti. This is the source of El Cid’s name.

Zubayda (Judeo–Arabic): “Prime, élite, cream.”

Zubiya (Arabic): “Gazelle.”

Zuria (Basque): “White,” from root zuri.

Zymeria (German)

When Z replaces S

I love the flair and extra personality brought to a name when Z is used in place of S. Whereas names using K instead of C tend to be from a wider range of languages, switching out S for Z seems to be mostly a feature of Slavic languages, Hungarian, Armenian, Lithuanian, and Latvian.

Elizabeth seems about evenly split. A Z is used in English, Russian, Ukrainian, Czech, Slovak, Bulgarian, Lithuanian, Slovenian, Polish, and Croatian, while S is used in most other languages’ versions.  Over time, I’ve grown to far prefer the spelling Elisabeth, and love variants such as Eliisabet, Elisabeta, and Elisabetta.

Names using Z in place of the S expected in the Anglophone world include:

Female:

Anastazija, Anastazie, Anastázia, Anasztázia

Izabella, Izabela, Izabelė

Izaura

Izida (most Slavic languages’ form of Isis), Izīda (Latvian form), Izidė (Lithuanian form), Izyda (Polish form)

Izolda

Izydora, Izidóra

Jazmín

Jozefa, Jožefa, Józefa

Jozefina, Józefina, Jozefína, Jozefien, Jozefine

Jozette

Jozina, Jozine, Jozien

Kazimiera, Kazimira

Luiza, Louiza

Roza, Róža, Róża, Ruža, Róza, Rožė, Růžena

Rozalia, Rozalija, Rozalie, Rozália, Rozālija, Rozálie

Tereza, Terezie, Teréz, Terézia, Terezija

Zabel (Armenian form of Isabella)

Zofia, Zsófia, Žofia, Žofie

Zsuzsanna, Zuzana, Zuzanna, Zane

Male:

Ambroży, Ambrož, Ambrozije

Anastazy

Izaak, Izsák, Izaäk, Izák, Izak, Izaokas

Izaiaš, Izaija

Izydor, Izidorius

Jozef, Józef, Jožef, József, Jozefo

Jozias

Jozue (Czech and Slovak form of Joshua), Jozuė (Lithuanian form)

Kazimir, Kazimierz, Kázmér, Kazimír, Kazimieras

Zelig

Zurab (Georgian form of Sohrab, which means “shining” or “red water” in Persian)

Zygfryd

Zygmunt, Zikmund, Zsigmond, Žigmund, Žiga

The many forms of Gabriel and Gabriella

Gabriel entered the U.S. Top 100 in 1976, at #81, and stayed near the lower reaches of the chart till falling out in 1988. It re-entered at #82 in 1991, and began steadily climbing up the charts. Its highest position to date has been #21, in 2010. As of 2016, it was #25.

The name is also rather popular in France (#1), Switzerland (#4), Romania (#4), Belgium (#11), Portugal (#11), Croatia (#19), Chile (#19), Galicia (#25), Canada (#27), Italy (#27), Mexico (#35), Iceland (#37), Austria (#38), Spain (#39), Sweden (#42), Poland (#46), Norway (#47), Catalonia (#55), Slovenia (#66), England and Wales (#67), Australia (#78), New Zealand (#89), and the Czech Republic (#92).

This spelling is used in English, French, Finnish, the Scandinavian languages, Slovak, Czech, German, Georgian, Portuguese, Romanian, and Spanish. The alternate form Gabriël is Dutch, Gábriel is Hungarian, and Gabríel is Icelandic.

Gabrielle, one of the feminine forms, is English and French. In France, it’s #74, and in the U.S., it’s fallen to #225, after peaking at #46 in 1999. The alternate form Gabriëlle is Dutch.

Gabriella is English, Hungarian, Swedish, and Italian. In the U.S., it’s #61, down from a peak of #33 from 2009–11. The alternate form Gabriëlla is Dutch, and Gabríella is Icelandic.

Gabriela is Polish, Bulgarian, Slovak, Czech, German, Spanish, Romanian, Portuguese, and Croatian. It’s #8 in Romania, #19 in Poland, #29 in Portugal, #30 in the Czech Republic, #36 in Croatia, #50 in Mexico, #56 in Chile, #73 in Spain, and #252 in the U.S. The alternate form Gabríela is Icelandic.

Other forms include:

Male:

1. Gabriels is Latvian.

2. Gabrielius is Lithuanian.

3. Gavriel is the original Hebrew. It means “God is my strong man.”

4. Gavrel is Yiddish.

5. Gavriil is Russian.

6. Gavril is Macedonian, Bulgarian, and Romanian.

7. Gavrail is Bulgarian.

8. Gábor is Hungarian.

9. Gavrilo is Serbian. This form was famously borne by Gavrilo Princip, who assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand and started the First World War.

10. Gabrijel is Slovenian and Croatian.

11. Havryyil is Ukrainian.

12. Kaapo is Finnish. An alternate form is Kaappo.

13. Kaapro is also Finnish.

14. Gabriele is Italian.

15. Jabril is Arabic.

16. Jibril is also Arabic.

17. Dzhabrail is Chechen.

18. Cabbrieli is Sicilian.

19. Djibril is Western African.

20. Džibril is Bosnian.

21. Cebraîl is Kurdish.

22. Cəbrayil is Azeri.

23. Crabiele is Sardinian.

24. Gabirel is Basque.

25. Gabrielo is Esperanto.

26. Gābriyēl is Telugu.

27. Kapriel is Armenian.

28. Gabriyel is also Armenian.

29. Gaibrial is Irish.

30. Gavrylo is Ukrainian.

31. Gēbriyal is Kannadan.

32. Gēbriyala is Hindi and Gujarati.

33. Habryyel is Belarusian.

34. Haŭryil is also Belarusian.

35. Jebreil is Persian.

36. Jiboraeel is Bengali.

37. Jibriil is Somali.

38. Kapeliela is Hawaiian.

39. Kâpriale is Greenlandic.

40. Kēpriyal is Tamil.

41. Xhebraili is Albanian. The XH sound is pronounced like the J in Jupiter.

42. Zibrail is Sylheti.

43. Cebrail is Turkish.

Female:

1. Gavriela, or Gavriella, is Hebrew.

2. Gavrilla is an alternate Hebrew form.

3. Gavrela is Yiddish.

4. Havyryyila is Ukrainian.

5. Kaapriella is Finnish.

6. Gabrielė is Lithuanian.

7. Gabriele is German.

8. Gabrijela is Croatian.

9. Gavrila is Romanian. An alternate form is Gavrilă.