Spotlight on: Zara

I am so sorry that I’ve been so quiet on the blog this week and last! It’s the end of the year y’all, it gets me crazy every time. Only a couple of more weeks until summer!

I discovered the COOLEST thing the other day!! I love the name Zara — it’s familiar like Sara and zippy like Z and while an Arabic-sounding name might normally make Northern European me hesitate, Brit royal Zara Tindall, neé Phillips, brings it right back into my comfort zone (fun fact: her name was suggested by her uncle Prince Charles!).

Behind the Name describes Zara in a couple different ways: first, it’s said to be the English form of Zaïre — the name of the heroine in Voltaire’s play by the same name, which may have been based on the Arabic Zahrah (“blooming flower”) (it has Zaira listed as the Italian variant). And Abby at Appellation Mountain spotlighted Zara a year ago and has some other great info about possible origins (and she words in her characteristic lovely way that Prince Charles was probably not quite right about the meaning of Zara).

But I was always a little put off by the fact that I couldn’t figure out a patron saint for it — if you take it as a variant of Sarah then Sarah the Matriarch or St. Sara of Antioch can work, but I would have really loved to have come across a closer connection … and the other day I did! Behind the Name says it’s also a diminutive of the Bulgarian name Zaharina, which is the Bulgarian and Macedonian feminine form of Zechariah! Wow!!

I LOVE the idea of Zara for Zechariah! John the Baptist, Elizabeth, and The Visitation are all wrapped up in the name Zechariah for me, as they’re all related in the first chapter of Luke, along with Our Lady’s Magnificat. Specifically for us, how cool his story is that it has to do with one of the only times God named a baby!

What do you all think of this fun find? Does it make Zara more appealing to you? Do you know any Zaras, and do they like their name? I wouldn’t tend to think of nicknames for Zara (maybe Zee) — do any of the Zaras you know go by a nickname?


30 thoughts on “Spotlight on: Zara

  1. I am an American living in Austria and we have a lot of refugees here in our town. There are many women named Zara here. They are all from Afghanistan and all Muslim. Thought this might be interesting for you to hear.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Well, how cool is this!! I have always loved the spunkiness of Zara and have always assumed that it was related to Sara.

    Since I have a Zachariah, I decided that one Z in the family was enough. Now to hear that they’re related is just neat!!

    Another great thing about Zechariah. It’s one of a few names that appears in both Old and New Testament for two different people.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. But it doesn’t rhyme with Sarah/Sara, right? My friend from London pronounces it zahr-uh, and this was my take on it too. I thought Zara Tindall also pronounced it that way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t know how Zara Tindall says it, you’re probably right! I’ve heard it both ways, and whichever pronunciation you choose will probably be mistaken for the other half the time anyway!


  4. My cousin just named her girl Zara-Rose (after the princess, He is from England) a few months ago! I believe they pronounce it zahr-uh, like grace mentioned above. Juliet is big sister and big brother they lost in late pregnancy was Clark.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. actually, since you mentioned the Italian variant: I know Zaira. One of them had a last name really similar to Zara (Think Zara Zaroni), the other one I don’t quite remember. They were both around my age, so maybe it was trendy in Italy for a second in the 80’s? Also Sarah in German is pronounced Zara, I’m pretty sure?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. No, Zara in German does not start with a “z” it is “sahr uh” 👍 I live in Austria and Sarah is very popular here and in Germany as well.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I love Zara and know of a in her early 30s and a toddler. Both are pronounced Zahr-uh like the Queens grand daughter.
    I also know a Sara pronounced Sahr-uh
    All the Sarah’s I know are Seer-uh.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Also! I forgot to say, the fashion retailer Zara is pronounced more accurately with a Castilian accent so it’s really “thah-rrah”. I read this a long time ago, and just thought of it. (Some Americans phoneticize the “r” in Spanish as a “d” because many Americans struggle with trilling the r and just substitute a “d” sound, so it has been typed as “thah-dah” too.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • So interesting! Another interesting bit I read is that the fashion retailer was originally Zorba’s but there was another business on the same street with the same name, so they rearranged letters to get Zara.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh! Ha! I pronounce Ibiza “ih-BEE-zah”. Again, I just can’t bring myself to do the Castilian accent. Especially because of where I live—where there are a lot of native Spanish speakers (mostlyof Mexican background), it just sounds “put on” to me. When I studied Spanish in college, I had a Castilian professor but she encouraged us to use a more South American/Mexican accent because that’s more common in the US.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes! All the Spanish speakers I know are of Central/South American background as well, and I wouldn’t have even known about the Castilian thing except one of my Spanish teachers in high school had studied in Spain and she would tell us how things were said differently there. So interesting!


  9. […] (6) Zara This is one of my Z ideas for them. One of its possible etymologies is as a variant of Zahrah, which derives from the Arabic word meaning “blooming flower.” So pretty! Another, separate meaning that I really like is that Zara is a Bulgarian diminutive of Zaharina, which is a feminine form of Zechariah! Zechariah is said to mean, “Yahweh remembers” in Hebrew. I actually spotlighted Zara here. […]


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