How do you pronounce the name Zaya?

We have decided on the name Zaya for our daughter but we would like to use this forum to help us decide on a pronunciation.  This is a two parter:

1) When you read the name Zaya how do you pronounce it in your head? Your first instinct only please:

  •     A) Zai-Ah (rhymes with Maya)

    B) Zay-Ah (rhymes with Isaiah)

2) Which pronunciation do you like better?

We like both pronunciations but we want to help her reduce the number of times she needs to correct someone trying to say her name. I hope to use some statistics from this forum to help us decide.




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September 22, 2017 12:02 PM

B, I think because I am influenced by Zendaya.

September 22, 2017 12:37 PM

B, because of the singers Daya and Zendaya like Miriam said, as well as the numerous Isaiahs I've known in my life. I prefer that pronunciation because I think it is less choppy and is (with my accent) easier to pronounce.

September 22, 2017 2:23 PM

I instinctively say it like "Maya" (A). Although prefer (B). 

September 22, 2017 4:13 PM

A because of Maya.

September 22, 2017 5:43 PM

A and I prefer A.

September 22, 2017 7:50 PM

My first reaction was "if you want it like Maya, maybe spell it Zaia?" which I think tells you that B is the pronunciation I'd reach for naturally. 

September 22, 2017 11:17 PM

Even while reading responses that are talking about the name sounding like Isaiah, I pronounce Zaya with the 'eye' vowel in the first syllable. That's the "European standard" value of the letter 'a'.

I have no particular preference between /zeye-ah/ and /zay-ah/.

September 23, 2017 3:37 PM

1) My first instinct would be B, but I think I would find it easy enough to switch to A if I was told "it's like Maya with a Z" 

2) I actually do prefer B though :) 

September 23, 2017 6:18 PM

My instinct is A, but then I question whether it was meant to be B. (Wait, Zendaya pronounces her name zen-DAY-uh? I've always read it as zen-DYE-uh! Which shows that I really do default to A.)

I can't decide which I like better. Maybe one sounds better with her surname? Can you perhaps give a hint as to what it is? 

September 29, 2017 8:12 AM

Same. I was going to post "Zaya like Maya, and because it kind of looks like a nickname for Zendaya," which I definitely pronounce as "zen-DYE-uh."

I have no strong preference, but I definitely would assume "ZYE-uh" first.

October 5, 2017 8:55 PM

Same here too - my instinct was A and I thought that was how Zendaya was pronounced, too.  I prefer A.

September 23, 2017 10:51 PM

for me A & B are pronounced the same  May a Zay A Izay a

September 24, 2017 10:33 AM

Just from knowing a couple of people named/nicknamed Daya (Day-uh), I would go with B.

September 24, 2017 8:12 PM

And then there's Daya from Orange is the New Black who is DYE-uh. With names like this, we're all biased by previous associations.

September 24, 2017 5:14 PM

I default to B, but I think this is going to be a name that will always require some correction. I would play Let's Call The Whole Thing Off by Ella Fitzgerald to your daughter because I think "You say ZAY-ah, and I say ZYE-ah," could totally fit in with the vanihlla, vanehlla, potayto, potahtos in the lyrics. I think being flexible (having the way you say it obviously be the right way, but not caring so much if the barista says it differently) is the way to go. 

September 24, 2017 8:07 PM

I think that the point of this post was to decide which way they themselves would say it!

September 24, 2017 8:24 PM

That's true, I just meant that there really isn't a clear consensus and no matter which they choose they'll have a big chunk of people who meet their daughter assuming the other pronunciation. I'd pick the one they like better, rather than trying base their decision on which is more intuitive.

September 25, 2017 4:59 PM

Thanks for all the responses! We are leaning toward Zaya sounding like Zai-ah (A). By the way the laat name is Dawson

September 26, 2017 1:18 PM

If you want the pronounciation Zai-a, I would go with the spelling Zaia honestly. As I mentioned before, my name is Maya and its mispelled all the time. I dont think spelling it Zaya will save your child that much trouble when it comes to misspellings because it too will be misspelled. however, I don't think Zaia will be misprounced as often. My friend named Maia gets a lot of misspellings too but people are more likely to spell her name correctly. 

Basically, you're guaranteed misspellings with this name, but if you want to minimize mispronunciations I would spell it Zaia. Hope that helped!

September 26, 2017 1:23 PM

I have no personal experience to draw from, but I keep wanting to read Zaia as ZAY-uh but read Zaya as ZYE-uh, so I'm not sure that the respelling would diminish the instinctive pronunciation divide.

September 26, 2017 2:16 PM

It's really interesting how subjective English vowels are. I would say both Zaya and Zaia as ZYE-uh, and if I wanted ZAY-uh I would probably go for something like Zeia or Zeya.

September 27, 2017 4:58 PM

Ditto on Zaia being Zye-uh in my mind. That said, it's your name, so pick the spelling/pronunciation you want!

September 26, 2017 4:39 PM

To me this is very much an onomastic "faces or vases" kind of thing. I can see/hear it both ways, with A probably being slightly dominant for me.

Unfortunately, I think this is one of those sounds where English spelling is just really inadequate to the challenge of an unambiguous, elegant spelling, and without any widely-agreed standard spelling/pronunciation you probably will have to resign yourself to getting misspellings and mispronunciations whichever way you jump. That being the case, I would suggest just going with whatever spelling and pronunciation you like best.

September 26, 2017 5:48 PM

I'm not sure which pronunciation - zay-uh or zye-uh - I would go with if I came across this name and had to say it out loud (think, teacher on the first day of school).  Zaia would get me to zye-uh.  I think it looks nicer too.

September 27, 2017 3:18 AM

If you want itnto rhyme with Gaia, I would say Zaia. 

October 2, 2017 10:22 AM

It might be interesting for you to know that in Russian "zaya" literally means a "hare". They often use it as a diminutive/short/affectionate form to address anyone they like. It might be very cute to use it as a separate name. 


October 2, 2017 12:35 PM

How sweet! I call all my kids 'Bunny' as a pet name :) (As the big one heads to middle school I'm trying to switch it to Buddy when we're out and about :-p)

October 2, 2017 2:32 PM

I call my grandson Bunny and over the years have supplied him with numerous bunny-themed items. Recently he has become obsessed with chihuahuas, thanks to that chihuahua movie, and so now I call him pooch sometimes.

We were talking about nicknames yesterday. We always call him Elliott, but some of his little friends call him Ellie or Eli. The speculation: these kids have been classmates since they were three, and when they first met, perhaps some of the kids couldn't pronounce Elliott.

October 4, 2017 10:40 AM

Zai-Ah among the two but I will certainly pronounce it Zeye-Uh the first time, that's because I automatically think of the Turkish name lol. Zaya - also written as Yada - means Jade and is also called rain stone, important in Kaman / Shamanic tradition of Turkic peoples. 

By Kyms
July 17, 2019 9:09 PM

I would pronounce it as A and I prefer it :) 

July 20, 2019 10:23 PM

I read it like Maya, and I think I prefer that. If I heard it the other way I might assume it was the nickname of a boy named Isaiah. 

August 8, 2019 12:06 AM

My first instinct was A.