Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Susan

Susan developed as an English vernacular form of the Greek name Sousanna which is ultimately derived from the Hebrew שׁוֹשַׁנָּה (Shoshana) meaning “lily” (most likely borrowed from the Egyptian element “sšn” meaning “lotus”). Susanna or Shoshana is a character from the Hebrew Bible’s Book of Daniel, a narrative also recognized by Christians. For those without religious affiliations, Susanna’s story remains a fun read. Essentially, she is a beautiful and happily married Jewish woman wrongly accused of adultery by two disgruntled Jewish elders whose romantic advances she rejected. Angered, they decide to blackmail her by giving her two choices:  either she “lies” with them (that’s Bible-speak for "intercourse") or they threaten to publically accuse her of adultery. The pious beauty chooses certain social shame and the probability of death over committing a sinful act in the eyes of God, so she again rebuffs these morally corrupt men. As the story progresses, Susanna is convicted and sentenced to death in an ancient Biblical version of the O.J. Simpson trial. However, as with any well composed short story, this one has a nail-biting climax which, of course, involves God. God sends Daniel to Susanna’s defense and, in a brilliant move, Daniel separates the two elders and asks them individually under which tree did the alleged adultery take place? Of course, the men give disparate answers and so their fraud is revealed. A true Biblical “gotcha” moment. The elders get a taste of their own medicine (they are sentenced to death) whilst Susanna lives happily ever after. The name Susanna also shows up obscurely in the New Testament (Luke 8:3) as a woman mentioned for her role in spreading the “good news of the kingdom of God”. The simpler form of Susan was used occasionally in medieval England in homage to the Biblical heroine, but it didn’t become common until after the 16th century Protestant Reformation.

All About the Baby Name – Susan

Personality

OF THE GIRL NAME SUSAN

The number 11 is a Master Number, and embodies heightened traits of the Two. This personality is on a life journey to find spiritual truth. They are extremely idealistic and intuitive. Elevens have a rare and exceptional spiritual energy that brings a sense of obligation to illuminate the world around them. It's a very powerful responsibility, but these people have far more potential than they know. It's important that they surrender to higher ideals. They have the capacity to see the bigger picture, and they possess the skills to inspire others spiritually. Elevens have strong diplomatic skills and can become great peacemakers. Master numbers can be both a blessing and a curse, as they walk the fine line between greatness and the potential for self-destruction.

Popularity

OF THE GIRL NAME SUSAN

Susan has had an interesting ride on the American female popularity charts. Back at the turn of the 20th century, Susan was a highly common name (generally ranked between 100 and 150 most popular). By the 1920s it appeared as if Susan was losing her luster as she began to fall from her heights. However, everything turned up “lilies” for Susan in the 1940s as she reversed her course and headed straight for the top. In fact, between the mid-40s up through the 1960s, the name Susan was mostly a Top 10 choice for girls in America. Her best years were 1957-1960 when Susan was the #2 female name in the country (Mary had her beat for the top spot). Quite a feat! Susan maintained respectable popularity all the way through the 1980s, but then she started dropping like rocks. No longer a fashionable female name choice in 21st century America, Susan’s heyday has come and gone. To put it in perspective, about 40,000 baby girls were named Susan in 1960. Today, that number is about 350. However, we will give her credit where credit is due. Susan is the only form of the root name on the charts today. Not in use today? Susanna, Susanne, Suzette and Suzy. So we’ll say this. Susan has the most staying power. Just like the lily flower (after which she is named) Susan is a perennial favorite, so we expect a triumphant return to her former glory one day in the future. Right now, she’s just a “Lazy Suzan” who won’t come out to play.

Quick Facts

ON SUSAN

GENDER:

Girl

ORIGIN:

English

NUMBER OF SYLLABLES:

2

RANKING POPULARITY:

844

PRONUNCIATION:

SOO-zen

SIMPLE MEANING:

Lily

Characteristics

OF SUSAN

Inspirational

Highly Intuitive

Spiritual Teacher

Extremely Bright

Uplifting

Truth-seeker

Cultural References to the Baby Name – Susan

Literary Characters

OF THE BABY NAME SUSAN

We cannot find any significant literary characters by the name of Susan

Popular Songs

ON SUSAN

Susan's Song
a song by Al Jarreau

A Song for Susan
a song by Phil Kennelty

Switchboard Susan
a song by Nick Lowe

Susan Van Heusen
a song by Gilbert O'Sullivan

Susan
a song by The Buckinghams

S Is For Susan
a song by Park

Lazy Susan
a song by The Bobs

Black-Eyed Susan
a song by Morrissey

My Name Is Not Susan
a song by Whitney Houston

Oh No Not Susan
a song by Electric Light Orchestra

To Susan on the West Coast Waiting
a song by Donovan

Susan When She Tried
a song by Elvis Presley

Song for Susan
a song by Crosby, Stills & Nash

Famous People

NAMED SUSAN

Susan B. Anthony (American suffragist)
Susan Sarandon (actress)
Susan Boyle (Scottish singer)
Susan G. Komen (breast cancer victim and namesake of foundation)
Susan Sontag (author)
Susan Lucci (daytime actress)
Susan Dey (actress)
Susan Ward (actress)

Children of Famous People

NAMED SUSAN

We cannot find any children of famous people with the first name Susan

Historic Figures

WITH THE NAME SUSAN

Susan B. Anthony is most known for her leadership role in the American woman’s suffrage movement of the 19th century. She was born in Massachusetts to a politically active and anti-slavery family in the early part of the 1800s, so Susan was automatically sensitive to inequalities of any kind. As a young woman, she was active in the Temperance (anti-alcohol) movement, but was chided by her male counterparts who didn’t believe women had a place in politics. The experience inspired her to dedicate her life toward woman suffrage with her fellow activist friend Elizabeth Stanton. Together they founded the National Woman Suffrage Association and wrote a weekly newsletter fittingly called Revolution. Susan was tireless in her speech-giving across the nation and she famously (but illegally) voted in the 1872 presidential election. She was arrested and fined for her impropriety. Imagine that! Unbelievably, Susan B. Anthony never lived long enough to see the right to vote be granted to American woman – yet female voters today have her to thank. The 19th amendment was finally passed in 1920. Women haven’t even been voting for 100 years yet. As Susan herself said: “Oh, if I could but live another century and see the fruition of all the work for women! There is so much yet to be done.” Indeed Susan. Indeed.