Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Zoe

Zoë is a name of Greek origin which has been used in Roman times since Late Antiquity (hence the diacritic ë from the Latin alphabet to denote the separate two-syllable sound). From the Greek, Zoe means “life.” The name was popular among early Christians as a way of showing their hopes for eternal life. The Roman Catholic Church recognizes two female Saints named Zoe from the 2nd and 3rd centuries. They were martyred for their Christian beliefs at a time when the Roman Empire still persecuted Christians (it wasn’t until 380 AD that Christianity became the official religion of Rome). While Zoe is a name of ancient origin, the English-speaking world did not adopt it until the 19th century. Today, in the 21st century, Zoe is an international darling. She’s currently ranked highest in France and Australia, but also does extremely well in the Netherlands, Hungary, Belgium, Canada, the United States, Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland (not to mention she’s a Top 100 favorite in Catalonia, Spain and England). This girl’s definitely got some “life” in her!

All About the Baby Name – Zoe

Personality

OF THE GIRL NAME ZOE

The number one personality is a leader - strong and competitive. They are willing to initiate action and take risks. One personalities work hard toward their endeavors and have the ability to apply their creative and innovative thinking skills with strong determination. They believe in their ability to succeed and are too stubborn to be hindered by obstacles. Ones meet obstacles head-on with such mental vigor and energy that you better step aside. They resent taking orders, so don't try telling them what to do either. This is an intensely active personality, but they are also known as starters rather than finishers. They have a propensity to become bored and will move quickly to the next project if not properly challenged.  They are the ones to think up and put into action new and brilliant ideas, but they are not the ones to stick around and manage them. This personality has an enthusiastic and pioneering spirit. They are distinctly original.

Popularity

OF THE GIRL NAME ZOE

In America, the name Zoe has been in use for at least 120 years which is impressive considering how modern and current the name feels. That’s because the name experienced really low usage until the 1990’s. Actually, its most significant jump on the charts (over 200 positions in one calendar year) happened in 1989. Not surprisingly, the popular celebrity couple Lisa Bonet and Lenny Kravitz named their daughter Zoë Isabella at the end of 1988. This clearly gave the name a little jump start, and it’s ridden along quietly to the top of the charts since then. 2009 marks the first year the name has made it into the Top 50. The name is darling, charming and strong at the same time – both fresh and antique. And, despite its climbing success on the popularity charts, Zoe still feels unique and different. In the “Z” name category, this is one of the loveliest choices.

Quick Facts

ON ZOE

GENDER:

Girl

ORIGIN:

Greek

NUMBER OF SYLLABLES:

2

RANKING POPULARITY:

31

PRONUNCIATION:

ZOH-ee (sometimes ZOH)

SIMPLE MEANING:

Life

Characteristics

OF ZOE

Independent

Individualistic

Ambitious

Strong-willed

Inventive

Successful

Cultural References to the Baby Name – Zoe

Literary Characters

OF THE BABY NAME ZOE

Zoe is a minor character in James Joyce’s epic novel, “Ulysses” (first published in 1922). Yet, as a masterpiece of modern English literature, even minor characters are important in this novel. The entire nearly thousand-page story takes place over the course of a single day, 16 June 1904. One of the longest and most climactic episodes of the book (Circe) takes place in the brothel district of Dublin, Ireland. The main characters of the episode are the three prostitutes Zoe, Florry, and Kitty, and the "whoremistress," Bella Cohen. The chapter is meant to parallel Homer's “Odysseus” which describes Circe - an enchantress who turns men to swine with her magic. In Homer’s epic, the god Hermes gives Odysseus an herb called moly, which allows him to resist Circe's magic and reclaim the men under her spell. In Joyce’s rendition of the story, Zoe Higgins is one of the central prostitutes in Bella Cohen’s brothel. She is outgoing and adept at flirtation and teasing – thus representing one of the enchantresses from whom Leopold Bloom must rescue Stephen Dedalus.

Popular Songs

ON ZOE

Flowers for Zoe
a song by Lenny Kravitz

Hey Little Zoe
a song by Mario-Andre [explicit]

Zoe Jane
a song by Staind

Famous People

NAMED ZOE

Zoe Saldana (actress)
Zoe Caldwell (actress)
Zoe Gillings (Olympic snowboarder)
Zoe Mclellan (actress)
Zoe Myers (actress)

Children of Famous People

NAMED ZOE

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

Historic Figures

WITH THE NAME ZOE

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