Edited by Azizi Powell
This is Part III of a three part series that provides information about the origins and meanings of distinctive names of some famous Black people.
This post provides information about the names of some famous Black people whose whose first name that they are known by begins with the letter S-Z.
Click http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2015/02/famous-black-people-name-origins_26.html for Part I of this series. Part I provides information about famous Black people whose names begin with the letter A-L.
Click http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2015/02/famous-black-people-name-origins.html for Part II of this series. Part II provides information about famous Black people whose names begin with the letter M-R.
This isn't meant to be a comprehensive listing of distinctive name origins/meanings of historically or currently famous Black people. Most of the people included in this list are African Americans. Additional Black people who are known in the United States because of their professional, cultural, and/or political activities are also included in this list.
Most of the information on this page is quoted from and credited to websites. A few of the name meanings given here may be speculative on my part, for instance, the possible origins of the name "Trayvon".
The name meanings that are given may not be accurate or may not be the meanings that those particular stars ascribe to their names.
Other pancocojams posts on names and nicknames can be found by clicking the tabs that are given below.
Thanks to all those who are quoted on this page.
LIST OF NAMES
These entries are given in alphabetical order. For the most part, this list focuses on first names (given names). However, in a few cases, information about the famous person's full name is also given along with the entry of their first name.
a short form of the Yoruba Nigeria female name "Folasade"
Honor confers a crown
"ola"= wealth/honor; "ade"= "crown"
Click for examples of more Yoruba names with those elements.
Famous person with this name - Sade Adu
Helen Folasade Adu, OBE (Yoruba: Fọláṣadé Adú; born 16 January 1959), known as Sade (/ʃɑːˈdeɪ/ shah-DAY), is a British Nigerian singer, songwriter, composer, and record producer. She first achieved success in the 1980s as the frontwoman and lead vocalist of the Brit and Grammy Award-winning group Sade."
Shaka [also knowm as Shaka Zulu]
OTHER FORMS: Tshaka, Tchaka, Chaka
Meaning & History
Allegedly derived from Zulu iShaka or uShaka, the name of an intestinal beetle that causes abdominal bloating and menstrual irregularities. Shaka is the name of the most influential Zulu warrior king, supposedly given because his unmarried mother blamed her pregnancy symptoms on the iShaka beetle. (Zulu names often refer to the situation of the bearer's family when he or she was born.)"
Information about the famous person with that name:
"Shaka kaSenzangakhona (c. 1787 – c. 24 September 1828), also known as Shaka[a] Zulu (Zulu pronunciation: [ˈʃaːɠa]), was one of the most influential monarchs of the Zulu Kingdom.
He is widely credited with uniting many of the Northern Nguni people, specifically the Mthethwa Paramountcy and the Ndwandwe into the Zulu Kingdom, the beginnings of a nation that held sway over the portion of southern Africa between the Phongolo and Mzimkhulu Rivers, and his statesmanship and vigour marked him as one of the most prominent Zulu kings. He has been called a military genius for his reforms and innovations, and condemned for the brutality of his reign."
Information about two famous people with the names "Chaka" are given in Part I of this series.
"Guinean name meaning "learned."
This name comes from the Mandinka language of Guinea.
Famous person with this name: Sékou Touré
"Ahmed Sékou Touré(var. Ahmed Sheku Turay) (January 9, 1922 – March 26, 1984) was a Guinean political leader; head of the PDG, he was elected as the first President of Guinea, serving from 1958 to his death in 1984. Touré was one of the primary Guinean nationalists involved in gaining independence of the country from France...
He was an aristocratic member of the Mandinka ethnic group. His great-grandfather was Samory Touré, a noted Muslim tribal chief who founded the Wassoulou Empire (1861-1890) in the territory of Guinea and Mali, defeating numerous small African states with his large, professionally organized and equipped army. He resisted French colonial rule until his capture in 1891. He died while held in exile in Gabon
"English female name "Etymology : Probably a blend of SHONA and RHONDA"
Information about the name "Shona":
Information about the name "Shona"
It means "happy" or "lucky" in both Scotch and Irish Gaelic.
Shona is the feminine of the Hebrew name, John, which means gift from God. It is also Gaelic for Jane or Joan.
Another meaning for "John" (and male and female names from that name) is "God is gracious".o
Shona is also a language spoken in Zimbabwe.
Hee's information about the Shona people and the Shona language:
"Shona or chiShona, is a Bantu language, native to the Shona people of Zimbabwe the term is also used to identify peoples who speak one of the Shona language dialects... Shona is a principal language of Zimbabwe, along with Ndebele and the official business language, English. Shona is spoken by a large percentage of the people in Zimbabwe. Other countries that host Shona language speakers include Botswana and Mozambique."
Famous person with this name - Shonda Rhimes
"Shonda Lynn Rhimes (born January 13, 1970) is a screenwriter, director, and producer. Rhimes is best known as the creator, head writer, executive producer and showrunner of the medical drama television series Grey's Anatomy, its spin-off Private Practice and political thriller series Scandal. In May 2007, Rhimes was named one of TIME magazine's 100 people who help shape the world. Rhimes was an executive producer for the medical drama series Off the Map which aired on ABC for one season in 2011. Rhimes serves as executive producer for ABC's new legal series How to Get Away with Murder, which debuted September 25, 2014."
PRONOUNCED: so-LAWNZH [key]
Meaning & History
French form of the Late Latin name Sollemnia, which was derived from Latin sollemnis "religious". This was the name of a French shepherdess who became a saint after she was killed by her master."
"Solange Piaget Knowles (born June 24, 1986) is an American singer, songwriter, model, and actress. Knowles was born in Houston, Texas to Mathew and Tina Knowles, both of whom left their careers to support her older sister Beyoncé's recording interests."
Information about this name is given below:
Famous person with this name - Ta-Nehisi Coates
Ta-Nehisi Coates ....born September 30, 1975) is an American writer, journalist, and educator. Coates is a senior editor for The Atlantic, and blogger for that publication's website where he writes about cultural, social and political issues...
Coates grew up in Baltimore, Maryland. His father, William Paul Coates, was a Vietnam War veteran and former Black Panther. His mother, Cheryl, was the breadwinner in the family and his father was a stay-at-home dad who ran Black Classic Press, a small publishing house specializing in African American studies during Ta-Nehisi's childhood. Ta-Nehisi's father had seven children. Coates says that Ta-Nehisi is an Egyptian name for ancient Nubia.
"Last month, on the blog he writes for The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates explained the origin of his first name:
[F]or the record Ta-Nehisi (pronounced Tah-Nuh-Hah-See) is an Egyptian name for ancient Nubia. I came up in a time when African/Arabic names were just becoming popular among black parents. I had a lot of buddies named Kwame, Kofi, Malik (actually have a brother with that name), Akilah and Aisha. My Dad had to be different, though. Couldn't just give me a run of the mill African name. I had to be a nation."
Information about this name is given below:
Famous person with this name - Taraji Penda Henson
"Taraji Penda Henson (born September 11, 1970) is an American actress...
Henson was born in southeast Washington, D.C., the daughter of Bernice Gordon, a corporate manager at Woodward & Lothrop, and Boris Lawrence Henson, a janitor and metal fabricator. Her first and middle name are of Swahili origin, "Taraji" meaning hope and "Penda" meaning love.."
Thandiwe (nickname: Thandie)
Information about this name and nickname are given below:
"Thandiwe "Thandie" Newton (born 6 November 1972) is an English actress. She has appeared in several British and American films.
Newton was born in London, England, the daughter of Nyasha, a Zimbabwean health-care worker, and Nick Newton, an English laboratory technician and artist.
The name "Thandiwe" means "beloved" in Ndebele, Zulu, Xhosa or siSwati, and "Thandie" is pronounced /ˈtændi/ in English."
Meaning & History
Latinized form of Tielo (see TILO). A famous bearer was jazz musician Thelonious Monk (1917-1982).
OTHER LANGUAGES: Teutorigos (Ancient Celtic), Theoderich, Theodoricus, Theudoricus, Theutrich, Þiudreiks (Ancient Germanic), Diederik, Tijmen, Dick, Diede, Diederick, Dirk, Ties (Dutch), Dederick, Derrick, Dirk (English), Thierry (French), Tiede (Frisian), Diederich, Dietrich, Thilo, Till, Tilo, Dierk, Dirk, Tillo (German), Theodoric (History), Tielo (Medieval German), Tudor, Tudur (Welsh)"
"Thelonious Sphere Monk (October 10, 1917 – February 17, 1982) was an American jazz pianist and composer. Monk had a unique improvisational style and made numerous contributions to the standard jazz repertoire, including "'Round Midnight," "Blue Monk," "Ruby, My Dear," "In Walked Bud," and "Well, You Needn't". Monk is the second-most recorded jazz composer after Duke Ellington, which is particularly remarkable as Ellington composed more than 1,000 pieces, whereas Monk wrote about 70 "
"from the northern Middle English personal name Thurgod (Old Norse þorgautr), composed of the þórr, name of the Norse god of thunder (see Thor) + the ethnic name Gautr (see Joslin).nickname from Middle English thur(og)h ‘completely’ + gode ‘good’."
Famous person with this name - Thurgood Marshall
"Meaning of the name Tionne: Beyond praise; Highly praiseworthy
Origin of the name Tionne: Latin; French (as variant of Antionne)
Alternate spellings of the name Tionne: Tione, Tiane, Tiane, Tianne
"Tionne" could also be an American invented form of the female name "Dionne". Information about the name "Dionne" name is included in Part I of this series.
[Speculative origin and meaning]- a variant form of the name "Trey". Read that meaning below.
Famous person with this name:
"Trai Byers (born July 19, 1983) is an American actor. He played civil rights activist James Forman in the 2014 historical epic film, Selma directed by Ava DuVernay. In 2015, Byers began starring as Andre Lyon in the Fox musical primetime soap opera, Empire."
Origin- (Speculative origin and meaning ): a variant form of the nickname "Trey" combined with the suffix "von"
"Trayvon" has no established meaning, but it may borrow the meanings of the elements "Trey" (tray) and "von". The meaning of "Trey" is given below.
Information about the meaning of "von"
"In German, von [fɔn] is a preposition which approximately means of or from.
When it is used as a part of a German family name, von is usually a nobiliary particle, like de in French or like suffix -i in Hungarian and indicates a noble father's lineage. Nobility directories like Almanach de Gotha often abbreviate noble von to v. In medieval or early modern names the von particle was also often part of commoners' names; thus, "Hans von Duisburg" meant Hans from [the city of] Duisburg. This meaning is preserved in Swiss surnames or in the Dutch van, which is a cognate of von but does not indicate nobility."
Famous person with the name "Trayvon" - Trayvon Martin
"Trayvon Benjamin Martin (February 5, 1995 – February 26, 2012) was a 17-year-old African American from Miami Gardens, Florida who was fatally shot by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, in Sanford, Florida...
Following Martin's death, rallies, marches and protests were held across the nation."
Famous person with that name - Trayvon Robinson
"Trayvon Andrew Dwayne Robinson (born September 1, 1987) is an American professional baseball outfielder who is with the San Diego Padres organization. He played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Seattle Mariners in 2011 and 2012."
"Trey is a three in playing cards, dice, or dominoes, similar to the more familiar ace for one and deuce for two. It comes from Old French treis, meaning three. It is also a common nickname for those who are the third of their name."
Editor's Note: Some African Americans use the name "Trey" or a variant form of that name "Tray" as the first part of male given names not because the person so named is the third male one in the family to have that name, but because of the sound and look of that name.
Famous person with that name - Trey Ellis
"Trey Ellis (born 1962) is an American novelist, screenwriter, professor, playwright, and essayist. He was born in Washington D.C. and graduated from Hopkins School and Phillips Academy, Andover, before attending Stanford University where he was the editor of the Stanford Chaparral.
Meaning & History
From an English surname which could be derived from a nickname for a quarrelsome person, from Old French tison meaning "firebrand". Alternatively, it could be a variant of DYSON.
A famous person with this first name - Tyson Beckford
"Tyson Beckford (born December 19, 1970) is an American fashion model and actor, best known as a Ralph Lauren Polo model....
Beckford was born in Rochester, New York on December 19, 1970 to a father of Afro-Panamanian descent and a mother of Afro-Jamaican and Chinese descent. Soon after he was born his mother took the family back to Jamaica, where they lived for seven years before returning to New York, finally settling in Harlem."...
Another famous person with that name - Tyson Chandler
"Tyson Cleotis Chandler (born October 2, 1982) is an American professional basketball player who is currently a free agent. Chandler was the second overall pick of the 2001 NBA draft by the Los Angeles Clippers, then was immediately traded to the Chicago Bulls. He has also played for the New Orleans Hornets, Charlotte Bobcats, and New York Knicks. As starting center for Dallas, he played an integral role in the franchise's first NBA championship in 2011. He was also a member of the United States men's national basketball team's gold medal runs in the 2010 FIBA World Championship and the 2012 Summer Olympics. He plays the center position."
Here's information about the name "Cleotis"
"A boy's name of Greek origin. Cleotis has never been a common name in the United States. Meaning: Greek: illustrious. History: a Roman pope and martyr."
Information about this name is given below:
"Tupac Amaru Shakur (/ˈtuːpɑːk ʃəˈkʊər/ TOO-pahk shə-KOOR; born Lesane Parish Crooks; June 16, 1971 – September 13, 1996), also known by his stage names 2Pac and briefly as Makaveli, was an American rapper, songwriter, and actor. Shakur has sold over 75 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling music artists of all time. His double disc albums All Eyez on Me and his Greatest Hits are among the best selling albums in the United States. He has been listed and ranked as one of the greatest artists of all time by many magazines, including Rolling Stone which ranked him 86th on its list of The 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. Consistently ranked as one of the greatest rappers ever, he was ranked number 2 by MTV in their list of The Greatest MCs of All-Time in 2006. 2Pac is also ranked as the most influential rapper of all time....
Shakur, whose birth name according to relatives was Lesane Parish Crooks, was born on June 16, 1971, in the East Harlem section of Manhattan in New York City. He was named after Túpac Amaru II, the 18th-century South American revolutionary who was executed after leading an indigenous uprising against Spanish rule."
"Tupac Amaru Shakur. Name Meaning & Origin:He was named after an Inca Indian revolutionary:Tupac Amaru means"shining serpent",and Shakur is arabic for "thankful to God"."
Famous person with this name - Uhuru Kenyatta
"Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta (born 26 October 1961) is the fourth and the current President of Kenya, in office since 9 April 2013...
Kenyatta is the son of Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya's founding father and first president (1964–1978). His family hails from the Kikuyu, a Bantu ethnic group. His given name "Uhuru" is from a Swahili term for "freedom", and was given to him in anticipation of Kenya's upcoming independence."
Origin: Igbo (Nigeria), Short Form: Gender: Female
The road, or the way.
Famous person with this name actress Uzo Aduba (famous role American television shown Orange Is The New Black
This name is a clip (shortened form) of the name "Irving". "Irving" is a variant form of the name "Irvine"
Information about the name "Irvine":
Information about the name "Irvine"
"Irvine Name Meaning Scottish, also common in northern Ireland: habitational name from Irvine in Ayrshire, which is named from a Celtic river, Welsh ir, yr ‘green’, ‘fresh’ + afon ‘water’."
The name "Irving" can be said to have the same meaning of "Irvine".
Information about the famous person with this name - Ving Rhames:
"Irving Rameses "Ving" Rhames (born May 12, 1959) is an American actor best known for his work in Bringing Out the Dead, Pulp Fiction, Out of Sight, Baby Boy, Don King: Only in America, Dawn of the Dead, Rosewood, Con Air, and the Mission: Impossible film series...
Rhames was born in Harlem, New York City, New York, the son of Reather, a homemaker, and Ernest Rhames, an auto mechanic. His parents were raised as sharecroppers in South Carolina. Named after the late NBC journalist, Irving R. Levine, Irving Rhames also grew up in Harlem.
He entered New York's High School of Performing Arts, where he discovered his love of acting. After high school, he studied drama at SUNY Purchase, where fellow acting student Stanley Tucci gave him his nickname "Ving"."
"The name "Zendaya" is from the Shona language of Zimbabwe. "Zendaya" means " to give thanks"."
Information about a famous person with this name - Zendaya Coleman
Birth place: California
Birth date: September 1, 1996
She [Zendaya] was raised in Oakland, California by her parents, Kazembe Ajamu Coleman and Claire Stoermer. She has 3 sisters and 2 brothers"...
[Zendaya Coleman is an] Actress who became known for appearing in the Disney series Shake It Up, for which she was nominated for a Teen Icon Award for Iconic TV Actress. Her second single, "Watch Me," hit #9 on the USA Top Heatseekers chart in 2011. She starred in the 2014 Disney movie Zapped with Spencer Boldman and in 2015, she began playing KC Cooper on Disney's KC Undercover. She also finished runner-up in the sixteenth season of ABC's Dancing with the Stars".
Famous person with that nickname - Ziggy Marley [Reggae singer, musician)
"Noun 1. spliff - marijuana leaves rolled into a cigarette for smokingspliff - marijuana leaves rolled into a cigarette for smoking.
I wonder if the name Ziggy comes from Zig Zag brand cigarette rolling papers. Were Zig Zags sold in Jamaica?
This concludes Part III of this series.
What famous Black people with distinctive names would you add to this list?
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