American Names · Modern names



Are you looking for a Christmas or Holiday-themed baby name that works during the rest of the year? How about Zuzu? Just nineteen baby girls were given this adorable name in 2021, according to Social Security Administration extended data. Zuzu is all kinds of fantastic – like Lulu with zest! It’s best associated with Susan owing to pop culture references, but may have derived from one of Susan‘s Central European relatives like Zsuzsanna or Zuzanna. Ultimately, all of those descend from Shoshannah, a Biblical Hebrew name meaning “Lily.” Zuzu also looks a lot like a Yiddish name (Zusa) meaning “sweet.” Considering its distinctive sound, rarity, positive meanings, and proximity to trending ‘Z’ names like Zora, Zola, and Zara, I’m surprised more parents haven’t jumped on Zuzu yet.

Most of us have seen the Christmas movie It’s a Wonderful Life, which turns seventy-six this year. For those who haven’t watched it yet, the premise is that an angel shows despondent George Bailey scenes from his life if he had never existed. I haven’t seen the movie in ages, but George had a daughter named Zuzu, which was probably short for Susan! Zuzu famously quotes: “Look Daddy. Teacher says, every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings.” From what I could find, her nickname was supposedly a reference to Zu Zu Ginger Snaps, which were popular in the early 20th century. For more information on the cookies, they have their own blog – worth a read! P.S. – Watch the movie. It’s wholesome and a classic, and someone’s probably streaming it this time of year. 

I’ve also noticed that Zuzu is a character name in at least two children’s television shows from the last twenty years. In the British show Peppa Pig, Zuzu is a zebra with a twin sister named Zaza and an older sister named Zoe. The other show with a Zuzu is the Australian Zuzu and the Supernuffs. Their influence on the name is probably negligible, though since Zuzu first appeared as a baby name in the U.S. before either program hit the waves. Peppa Pig has only been around since 2004, and Supernuffs was released in 2013. The first time Zuzu (and not Susan or another formal name) appeared as a American baby name with at least 5 uses (the minimum for inclusion by the SSA) was 1999. If anything, the classic movie probably has the most influence besides internet name enthusiasts.

Since it’s already a nickname, you don’t need to worry about shortening it further! As far as potential middle names go, Zuzu stands out enough on its own that it might not need an equally rare or exotic second…though you’re certainly welcome to use one! If you use a standard middle name and call your child something like Zuzu Marie, Zuzu Rose, or Zuzu Lynn, she’s already going to be the only Zuzu in her class and might be the only one she ever meets. On the other hand, I could see something spunky like Zuzu Pixiebelle or Zuzu Tigerlily working if you want to go all-out. Monosyllabic names like Kate and Fay work great too! Anyway, here are a few great potential middle name combos for Zuzu

  • Zuzu Mae
  • Zuzu Noel
  • Zuzu Circe
  • Zuzu Frost
  • Zuzu Lux
  • Zuzu Frances

What do you think of Zuzu? Would you use it as a nickname or treat it as a standalone? Let me know! 

Originally Published November 13, 2016.

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