Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Susanna

Susanna is the Biblical Latin form of the Greek Sousanna, itself a transliteration of the Hebrew Shoshana meaning, quite simply, “lily.” Many scholars believe the name ultimately finds its roots in the Egyptian element “sšn” meaning, apropos, “lotus” (water lily), a flower of great importance to the early people of the Mediterranean. To the Ancient Egyptians, it was symbolic of the sun, creation and rebirth – at night the lotus flower closes and sinks underwater, only to rise and blossom again at dawn. 
 
Susanna (Hebrew: Shoshana) is a notable character from the Hebrew Bible's Book of Daniel, a narrative also recognized by Christians. Her story goes something like this:  Susanna was a very beautiful, God-fearing and faithful Jewish woman living in Babylon during a period of exile.  Happily married to a man named Joakim, she was wrongly accused of adultery by two disgruntled Jewish elders whose romantic advances she rejected.  Angered, the two morally corrupt men decide to blackmail her by giving her one of two choices:  Either she “lies” with them (that’s Old Bible-speak for “fornication”) or else they promise to publicly accuse her of adultery anyway. The pious beauty refuses the men again, knowing full-well that she risks certain social shame and the probability of execution (adultery was punishable by death in those days) should they indeed carry out their threat.   
 
As the story progresses, Susanna is ultimately convicted and sentenced to death. But wait. This ancient Biblical story has a nail-biting climax worthy of Court TV.  At the last minute, God sends Daniel to Susanna’s defense.  In a brilliant legal maneuver, Daniel separates the two elders and asks them individually: “Under which tree did this alleged adultery take place?” No surprise, the two men give disparate answers, revealing their fraud. A true Biblical “gotcha” moment.  As the story ends, the bad guys get a taste of their own medicine (they are sentenced to death) whilst Susanna lives happily ever after. 
 
Though Susanna finds her roots in the Hebrew Bible, endurance of the name among Christianized Europeans in the Middle Ages is owed to Susanna from the New Testament (Luke 8:3), briefly mentioned for her role in spreading the “good news of the kingdom of God.” Used occasionally in medieval times, Susanna gained more steam after the Protestant Reformation when Puritans and other dissenting Christians brought about the revival of many Hebrew names from the Old Testament (Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, Susanna, etc.) in a demonstration of their return to God. 
 
Shoshana is still used with frequency in the Jewish community. Susanna is old-school Biblical Latin and Old Church Slavic. In the English-speaking world, the name has more commonly been used in the form of Susan (or Suzanne with a “z”). The French tend to use Suzanne or Suzette. The pretty Latinate Susanna is also typical of Northern Europe (Scandinavia and Germany) as well as Italy. Zsa Zsa is a cute Hungarian diminutive. 

All About the Baby Name – Susanna

Personality

OF THE GIRL NAME SUSANNA

The number Eight personality has everything to do with power, wealth and abundance. Somehow, this personality has been blessed on the material plane, but their authoritative and problem-solving traits provide evidence that their good fortunes are not just the luck of the lottery. They are well earned. This is the personality of CEOs and high-ranking military personnel. Eights are intensely active, hard-driving individuals. Success is only meaningful to them after a job well-done.  They are remarkable in their ability to see the larger picture right down to the smallest details, and organize a strategy around success. They then have the ability to direct a group around them toward any goal, and realize individual potential to get the most out of their team.

Popularity

OF THE GIRL NAME SUSANNA

Susanna has a long history of usage in the Unites States, dating well before the 19th century. More likely than not, the early Puritans brought Susanna to America in colonial times, as it was their practice to adopt lesser known Biblical names. However, in the 20th century, the name Susanna achieved nothing more than low to low-moderate usage even though she maintained a consistent place among the long list of name choices. That is, until 1998. This is the year that Susanna fell off the female naming charts altogether, which makes her a very rare choice today. We were a bit surprised to see this since the current trends seem to favor flowery female names ending in an “a” (Sophia, Isabella, Olivia, Amelia, e.g.). One would think Susanna might offer the same appeal for parents of today. Apparently not. But perhaps someone will come along and rediscover this hidden gem and jumpstart her back onto the charts. We’ll have to wait and see. But in the meantime, O Susanna, don’t you cry for me!

Quick Facts

ON SUSANNA

GENDER:

Girl

ORIGIN:

NUMBER OF SYLLABLES:

3

RANKING POPULARITY:

N/A

PRONUNCIATION:

soo-ZAN-ah

SIMPLE MEANING:

Lily, Lotus flower

Characteristics

OF SUSANNA

Authoritative

Powerful

Tough

Tenacious

Wealthy

Problem-solver

Achiever

Cultural References to the Baby Name – Susanna

Literary Characters

OF THE BABY NAME SUSANNA

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

Popular Songs

ON SUSANNA

Susanna
an oratorio by George Frideric Handel

Oh Susanna
a song by Lisa Loeb

Oh! Susanna
an American classic by Stephen Foster

Famous People

NAMED SUSANNA

Susanna Hoffs (musician)
Susanna Wesley (mother of John and Charles Wesley, founders of the Methodist Church)
Susanna Hall (daughter of William Shakespeare who, in an ironic twist of fate, was also falsely accused of adultery)
St. Susanna (little known saint)

Children of Famous People

NAMED SUSANNA

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

Historic Figures

WITH THE NAME SUSANNA

We cannot find any historically significant people with the first name Susanna