The name has recently become a success in several countries, from England to Turkey, it has several possible derivatives and meanings.
Its English use may have been inspired by the Voltaire play, Zara (1732) (Zaïre in French) which may have been a French corruption of the Arabic female name, Zahra. The play recounts the exploits of a Christian woman named Zara or Zaïre, who is enslaved by Muslims. The name became extremely popular in the U.K. after Princess Anne chose this name for her daughter, Zara Phillips (b.1981).
Alternately, the name has recently become popular in many Slavic countries. It is probably a borrowing from the Bulgarian hypochoristic form of Zaharina (a feminine form of Zachary) or it may be from an Old Slavonic element, žar (fervor, ardor, ember).
Zara currently ranks in several countries’ top female names. Her rankings across the world are as follows:
- #11 (Malaysia, 2016)
- #22 (Bosnia & Herzegovina, 2016)
- #23 (Australia, 2017)
- #38 (New Zealand, 2016)
- #40 (Scotland, 2016)
- #46 (Slovenia, 2016)
- #56 (Ireland, 2016)
- #68 (England/Wales, 2016)
- #197 (Netherlands, 2016)
- #318 (United States, 2016)
Zara is also the name of a clothing store.