Susan, Susannah

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Hebrew
Meaning: “lily; rose.”

Susannah is the anglicized form of the Biblical Greek Sousanna (Σουσαννα) which in turn, is a translation of the Biblical Hebrew שׁוֹשַׁנָּה (Shoshannah). Shoshannah is derived from the Hebrew word ששון (shoshan) which means “lily” in ancient Hebrew, but in modern Hebrew has evolved to mean “rose.”

The Hebrew word of shoshan has been traced to the ancient Egyptian element, sšn meaning “lotus” and is also believed to be linked with the Hebrew word ששון (sasson) meaning, “joy”.

It is also interesting to note that in modern Farsi, the word for lily is sausan compare to shoshan.

The ancient place name of Susa is also believed to be related to the Semitic botanical word, due to the so-called abundance of lilies that used to thrive in the area.

In the Old Testament (or Apocrypha) the name is borne by a woman falsely accused of adultery. She is rescued by the prophet Daniel who tricks her accusers and reverses the accusations against them.

It is also borne in the New Testament by a companion of Mary and a disciple of Christ. She is revered as a saint in the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches.

Susan is a Middle English knock off, most likely influenced by the French Suzanne, which might have been introduced by the Norman conquerors in the 11th-century.

Currently, Susannah does not appear in the U.S. top 1000, (2008), but she has become especially trendy in many Central and Eastern European countries (in her various vernacular forms of course).

Her rankings in other countries are as follows:

  • # 22 Zuzana (Czech Republic, 2009)
  • # 96 Zsuzsanna (Hungary, 2009)
  • # 8 Suzana (Macedonia, 2006)
  • # 3 Zuzanna (Poland, 2008)
  • # 3 Zuzana (Slovakia, 2004)

In the English-speaking world, Susan was especially popular after World War II. In the United States, it is often considered dated and is usually associated with someone in their early 60s to late 50s. In fact, she remained a staple among the Baby-Boom Generation all the way to the early beginnings of the Generation Xers. She remained strong in the top 10 for over 20 years. The highest she peaked was between 1957 and 1960, coming in as the second most popular female name. Currently, she stands at a meagre #711.

Other forms of the name include:

  • Sawsan (Arabic)
  • Shushan (Armenian)
  • Sjusanna (Bulgarian)
  • Zulisja (Bulgarian)
  • Susanna (Catalan/Estonian/Finnish/German/Italian/Romansch/Swedish/Ukrainian)
  • Suzana (Croatian/Macedonian/Romanian/Serbian/Slovene)
  • Zuzana (Czech/Slovak/Lithuanian)
  • Sanna/Sanne (Danish/Dutch/Finnish/Norwegian/Swedish)
  • Susanne (Dutch/German/Norwegian/Swedish)
  • Susan (English)
  • Soosan سوسـن (Farsi)
  • Suzanne (French)
  • Suzette (French: originally a diminutive, but long regarded as an independent given name)
  • Šušanik შუშანიკ (Georgian)
  • Sousanna Σουσαννα (Greek)
  • Susann (German/Scandinavian)
  • Shoshana שושנה (Hebrew: Modern)
  • Zsuzsanna (Hungarian: ZHOO-zhawn-naw)
  • Zane (Latvian)
  • Zuzanna (Latvian/Polish: zoo-ZAHN-nah; zoo-ZAHN-ne-nah)
  • Sosamma (Malayalam)
  • Huhana (Maori)
  • Żużanna (Polish: archaic, possibly based off the Hungarian form. zhoo-ZHAHN-ne-nah)
  • Susana (Portuguese/Spanish)
  • Sana (Romansch)
  • Susauna (Romansch)
  • Sjusanna Сюзанна (Russian)
  • Suzan (Turkish)

Bulgarian diminutives include: Susa, Suzanka and Susak
Czech/Slovak short for is Zuza
English short forms are: Sue, Suzie and occasionally, Sukie/Sookie.
French affectionate forms include: Suzelle/Suzel, Suzette, Suzie and Suzon
Hungarian short forms are: Zsazsa, Zsuzsa and Zsuzsi.
Lithuanian diminutives are: Zune and Zuze
Polish diminutives include: Zanna, Żanna, Zanka, Zańka, Zuchna, Zula, Zuzia and Zużka
Spanish diminutives are: Susanita & Susi

The designated name-day is August 11 in (Estonia, Finland and Sweden).


4 thoughts on “Susan, Susannah

  1. Woot! You finally did an entry on my name! =)
    Susi is a German diminutive as well, in addition to Suse. Sanna/e is used in German too. I’ve heard of Sudie as a nickname in English. There’s also a Spanish name Azucena (meaning madonna lily), which has the same etymological origins, but I don’t think it’s considered a variant.
    Other forms I’ve come across that aren’t listed:
    Swsana (Welsh)
    Siusan (Scottish)
    Súsanna (Icelandic)
    Achamma, Achi, Sosa (Malayalam)

    PS This blog is awesome! Keep up the fantastic work! 🙂

    • While Susannah is the Greek transliteration, Susannah should still be listed as a name of Hebrew origins. I have mentioned that Shoshana is the original form.

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