Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Zaire

Zaire is the former name of the African country now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) which is the second largest country on the African continent (after Algeria); Zaire is also the former name of the Congo River. Zaire (or the DRC as it is now called) is located along the equator in the mid-section of Africa. Its history is multifaceted and complex starting with its early divisions of kingdoms based on chieftainship after Bantu invaders forced out the ancient Pygmies. Rich in natural resources, the Congo region would eventually become a target for slave traders and European colonists. Portuguese explorers were the first Europeans to come in contact with the people of Congo in the 14th century – it was they who brought Christianity, literacy and trade agreements to the chiefdoms which eventually established the region as the Free State of Congo. But it was Belgium King Leopold II in the 19th century who managed to obtain title to the territory renaming it Belgian Congo. Leopold savagely subjugated the native people and exploited their resources for his own personal gains until the Belgian government was forced to take over and quell the international embarrassment. It would take 75 years but eventually the Congolese reestablished their own independence and broke free of Brussels in 1960 only to plunge themselves into a series of civil wars. Control of the newly developing yet precariously independent Congo was basically usurped by the country’s army general: Joseph-Desiré Mobutu. During Mobutu’s corrupt rule (1971-1997), the country’s name was officially changed to The Republic of Zaire and the Congo River was renamed the Zaire River. The word “Zaire” comes from the Portuguese; it represented their interpretation of the Bantu word “nzere” meaning “the river that swallows all rivers” (obviously in reference to the Congo River which, aptly named Zaire at one point, also happens to be the world’s deepest river). When Mobutu’s corrupt, thieving, autocratic dictatorship was finally toppled in 1997 the country’s name went back to the Democratic (and we use that term loosely) Republic of the Congo. Zaire was just too strongly associated with her once unsavory ruler so the country wanted to shed itself of such remembrances. Since Zaire is used primarily as a masculine given name in the United States (most likely among African-American parents), we have to assume it’s in reference to the geographical place name. However, Zaïre also carries some literary weight. It’s the name of the heroine in French playwright Voltaire’s 1732 tragedy “Zaïre” – about a Christian slave woman who falls in love with a Muslim sultan and becomes a tragic victim of his misplaced jealousy. Most likely Voltaire coined the name Zaïre from the Arabic “Za(h)ra(h)” meaning “blooming flower”. From this perspective, Zaïre could arguably be used as a girl's name.

All About the Baby Name – Zaire

Personality

OF THE BOY NAME ZAIRE

The number Five personality loves the excitement of life and can easily adapt to all situations. As natural adventurers, these personalities thrive on the new and unexpected and prefer to be in constant motion. It makes them feel alive. They'll stir up some action if there's not enough around, and as inherent risk-takers they enjoy pushing the envelope. Naturally rebellious, the Five personality has no fear and never resists change.  Traveling and new experiences feed their souls. Fives are very social and attract friends with ease. People love to be around the Five fun-loving and exciting energy.  This is also a lucky number in numerology (like the Threes), so fortune seems to shine on them, helped along by their own optimism and good-nature. Fives have a quick wit, a cerebral mind, and are generally very persuasive. 

Popularity

OF THE BOY NAME ZAIRE

Zaire first appeared on the masculine naming charts in 1999. Oddly enough it has only so far appeared on the male charts and not the female. We think this is a name that works for either gender. Since the turn of the 21st century Zaire has been dwelling near the bottom of the boy’s Top 1000 list of names in circulation. This is a rarely used name and therefore quite unique. Exotic and “deep” (like its once namesake river), Zaire is a distinctive name choice. Of all the many geographical place names on the charts today Zaire is one of the more original.

Quick Facts

ON ZAIRE

GENDER:

Boy

ORIGIN:

African-American

NUMBER OF SYLLABLES:

2

RANKING POPULARITY:

935

PRONUNCIATION:

zye-AIR

SIMPLE MEANING:

The river that swallows all rivers

Characteristics

OF ZAIRE

Freedom-loving

Adventurous

Adaptable

Intellectual

Easygoing

Progressive

Sensual

Cultural References to the Baby Name – Zaire

Literary Characters

OF THE BABY NAME ZAIRE

Zaire is the heroine and title character of Voltaire’s 1732 play in verse, The Tragedy of Zaire. Zaire is a beautiful young Christian woman who as a baby had been kidnapped by Muslims during an attack on Cesarea, and raised in the court of the Sultan of Jerusalem. Many years later, the Sultan has agreed to allow Zaire’s brother to return to France to raise money to free the remaining Christians in slavery. Zaire and the Sultan have fallen in love and plan to marry; she has no interest in being freed herself, but assists in bringing one of the older Christians, Lusignan, to the camp where they will be deployed. He recognizes her from a piece of jewelry as his own long lost daughter, and with his son, begs her to be baptized secretly before marrying the Muslim. The Sultan, having been asked to postpone his wedding, suspects the worst and murders Zaire, believing her to be having a love affair with the man he does not know is her brother. When he finds out the truth, he kills himself in agony. Throughout all of this, Zaire is truly and completely an innocent, the tragic victim of the fears, misconceptions and violence of men – from those who abducted her, to her father and brother for enforcing a religious code of honor upon her, to her betrothed, who mistrusts her so much that he blindly murders her without benefit of her testimony.

Popular Songs

ON ZAIRE

We cannot find any popular or well-known songs with the name of Zaire


Famous People

NAMED ZAIRE

We cannot find any celebrities or significantly famous people with the first name Zaire.

Children of Famous People

NAMED ZAIRE

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

Historic Figures

WITH THE NAME ZAIRE

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