Susanna or Susannah?

I CANNOT make up my mind on this!  Which version do you prefer for a baby girl, and why?  Susannah v. Susanna.


By Guest (not verified)
May 16, 2012 12:43 PM

I think I like the h better than no h - Susannah over Susanna.  But that's a tough call! Either works.

May 16, 2012 12:51 PM

I think I prefer Susannah as well, but I have no real reason, other than it looks pretty to me.  I looked up the different spellings in the name voyager and it looks like Susanna is the more traditional spelling, while Susannah shows up almost exclusively in the 1970's.  Just an observation- I don't know if that matters to you at all (I doubt it matters to anyone else since the name is so rare nowadays).

By Amy3
May 16, 2012 1:01 PM

I like it with the H. Something about that tall S combined with the tall h at the end has a wonderful, very pleasing symmetry to me. Susannah also conjures up a sweetly, old-fashioned feel that's charming.

May 16, 2012 7:09 PM

I totally agree with comment and have always felt the same way


May 18, 2012 11:03 PM

I also agree with this comment.

May 16, 2012 1:13 PM

I like Susannah.  I think it looks more classic and less dated.

May 16, 2012 1:19 PM

Agreed with everyone above: With the H is more aesthetically balanced, and therefore pleasing.

By EVie
May 16, 2012 1:36 PM

I used to be quite torn about this too. I always thought that Susannah was the traditional spelling (probably because of the song), and I was surprised to see that Susanna has been much more popular in the U.S. over the last 120 years. I still have no idea why. My only theory is that English-speakers were using Susan instead, and Susanna was the spelling used by Italian- or German-speaking immigrants (especially in the late 19th century, when it seems to have been most used). Susana seems to be the Spanish spelling, and has only been in the top 1000 since the 1940s. 

I've actually come to prefer Susanna—Susannah still has a slight country vibe to me, no doubt because of the song, whereas Susanna seems a bit more streamlined, elegant and worldly. It also fits in nicely with my Italian/German heritage, without screaming it. (An alternate German spelling is Susanne, with the same pronunciation—and I actually know a baby with this name. Her mother is German). 

May 16, 2012 2:13 PM

I prefer Susanna better.  It has a more streamlined, classic look to me.  I thought maybe the spelling I prefer would depend on the middle or surname, but when I played around with some examples I realized that I consistently liked the no H spelling.


By Guest (not verified)
May 16, 2012 2:30 PM

Susannah is a bit more sassy and has a charming country vibe, while Susanna seems a bit more classic and stately to me. Its a little like Annabelle v. Annabel.

By mk
May 16, 2012 2:51 PM

I prefer Susanna, no major reason. I just think it looks better to me.

May 16, 2012 4:04 PM

For me, it depends on what I'm wanting vibe-wise. Down-to-earth with a slight country feel is Susannah. Classic, sophisticated/slightly international to me is Susanna. 

No clue why I feel that way, but there it is. 

May 16, 2012 4:37 PM

This is exactly how I feel. I think they're both lovely, and I think you need to identify which version evokes the tone you're going for.

Susannah bakes a mean apple pie, wades in creeks, plays the fiddle, and climbs trees.

Susanna can spot the difference between designer versus knockoff, likes France but prefers Belgium, runs a charity, and does yoga.

By EVie
May 16, 2012 4:51 PM

"likes France but prefers Belgium"

This made me laugh :) I totally agree with your characterization, and would add that Susanna would fit in wearing a classic black dress and drinking champagne cocktails at an opera fundraiser, while Susannah would probably not. 

May 16, 2012 6:16 PM

That is great!  Can you please include Susana?  I know the original poster didn't list it as a choice but it's always been my prefered spelling.

May 17, 2012 9:06 AM

I like that spelling and know that it is "legit," but it's not one of our choices so I didn't include it :)  I always hear it as "Su-sahh-na" in my head when it's spelled that way.

May 17, 2012 9:15 AM

I always thought they were pronounced the same but when you didn't include it I was wondering if I was wrong.  I was so amused by ilikemints descriptions of the 2 names that I was wondering where Susana fit in.

May 17, 2012 10:50 AM

I don't know for sure :) I think it varies from person to person.  think of it that way because of the pronunciation of Spanish Ana compared to Anna.

May 17, 2012 10:27 AM

I also prefer the H. The same with the name Hannah and Savannah. I wonder why Annah isn't a combo I've ever seen though. I think the H makes the name look more complete (with the exception of Anna-I guess that's why it isn't).

Just for the heck of it, names like Clara, Tara, Sara look fine without an H. Though Sarah is better because I know many more. 

May 17, 2012 8:56 PM

I'm the same as you zoerhenne. Like Anna vs Ana, Hannah vs Hanna, Savannah vs Savanna. Clara, Tara and Sara are all fine for me too although I also slightly prefer Sarah.

Juliet I much prefer over Juliette though

May 18, 2012 12:05 PM

Juliet/Juliette could go either way. It depends on any other name its matching and the surname. Although in general I am not a big fan of the -et/ette names. I do like Colette though. I think I'm a double letter liker. I like Isabelle rather than Isabel, Matthew instead of Mathieu, etc.

By hyz
May 18, 2012 1:23 PM

I prefer Susannah (and love it!  It is still on my list for future girls).  I agree that the -h gives it a quainter, softer feel, which I like.  Susanna is nice, too, but for some reason I'd tend to group her with sisters like Barbara, Nancy, Diana, and Pamela, while Susannah goes more with Mabel, Caroline, Charlotte, and June.  The difference is similar to me as between Joanna and Johanna.  I recognize that Susanna is more continental, and I can appreciate it from that angle, but I still prefer Susannah.

By EVie
May 18, 2012 2:49 PM

I definitely agree with you on the Susannah matches. For Barbara, Nancy, Diana and Pamela, though, I would pick the more mid-century Suzanne. I would pick Susanna to go with a with something like Clara, Victoria, Josephine and Cecilia—more of a Victorian-cosmopolitan feel, I think. I see the Joanna/Johanna parallel orthographically, but in terms of style and peak popularity I don't think it really fits—Susanna was at its highest in the 1880s, while Joanna peaked in the 1980s (I've known a ton of Joannas among my peers, while I've never met a Susanna). Johanna, on the other hand, also peaked in the 1880s, and to me it has more of a sweet antique feel (it always makes me think of the song from Sweeney Todd: "I feel you, Johanna... I'll steal you, Johanna"). 

By hyz
May 18, 2012 5:27 PM

Well, I definitely agree that Suzanne is the more mid-century choice and a good match for those I listed with Susanna.  But I picked those specific mid-century names because all of them were used (popular or at least not unknown) in the 1800s and earlier, and most/all of them are also used in Europe--doing genealogical research recently, it blew my mind a little to see that I had ancestors in the 1800s and earlier named Nancy and Barbara, with multiple Barbaras in both the US and Switzerland.  And that's a good fit for my personal view of Susanna--not truly time stamped to the mid-century, but definitely tinted with that brush.  Obviously that's just my own association--I'm not entirely sure where it comes from since neither Susanna nor Joanna were ever truly popular, with the exception of Joanna briefly making it into the top 100 for two years in the mid-1980s as you noted.  I tend to group Joanna with Joanne, and that is a more mid-century name like Suzanne, so that's probably part of the association.  So I'd say Joanne, Diane, and Suzanne are my hard core midcentury group, while Joanna, Diana, and Susanna are my mildly midcentury group.  And of course I do agree with you on the sweet antique feel of Johanna--I don't have the Sweeney Todd association, but because it is the feminine of Johan, I put it with all of the other early German/Scandi/Dutch type immigrant names like Wilhelmina, Franziska, Louisa, Mathilda, etc.  I'm coming around a bit on Susanna, but for a long time it seemed very much tied to Suzanne to me, while Susannah never has (maybe because of the song?).  Like I said though, I have no good explanation for it, so I'm not arguing, just trying to give the background for my statement! :)

By EVie
May 18, 2012 7:46 PM

You're completely right that Barbara, Nancy, Pamela and Diana are all quite old, though we associate them with the 1950s or thereabouts. I also tend to think of Diane/Dianne and Joanne as more strongly mid-century than their -a counterparts. It's funny how a grouping of names will affect your perception, though—I think of Diana on its own as quite timeless, but grouped with those others it ages tremendously. 

I guess if you associate Susanna with Suzanne, that explains it! I think that stylistically I associate it more with just plain Anna (and Susannah is closer to Hannah). I tend to think of the -anne names like Suzanne, Joanne, Dianne, Roxanne, etc. as one category, and the -anna names like Anna, Susanna, Julianna, etc. as another. Obviously some of them share the same stems, but the style is very different. Out of curiosity, I just graphed the -anne vs. -anna and -ana endings on NameVoyager Expert, and the differences are visually quite striking. The -anne names have a huge spike in the middle of the century, whereas -anna has a huge valley, with spikes around 1880 and the early 2000s (although the 1880 spike is largely due to Anna itself). The -ana ending appears to be a very modern phenomenon, though Diana does make a bump in the 1940s. 

May 18, 2012 3:10 PM

I couldn't have explained it better myself!  I'd been looking at this post for a while, read a lot of the responses, agreed that I liked the way Susannah looked in comparison to Susanna, but couldn't put my finger on why.  Whether or not the 'h' was actully used over a century ago, including it does give the name a quaint antiquey feeling (to my eyes at least).  It very well may be because of the songs, but I liken Susannah to Clementine: both are beautiful, substantial, completely charming names that I thought were really old fashioned growing up but love now!

May 18, 2012 9:32 PM

Hmm ... torn here, since Susanna has been our girl name throughout our entire babybearing thus far (5 boys, no girls), and I do love it -- but we chose it because it's in honor of my mom (Susanne) and her mom (Anna), so I don't consider Susannah an option (I feel like it would take away from the honor to my mom and grandmother). I do tend to love the final "h" though -- as in Rebekah, Hannah, Mariah (though I prefer Sara to Sarah [and Juliet to Juliette, as one poster brought up]). And I do love that Susanna has more of that continental feel -- that's something that I strived for in naming our sons. Susanna's also a saint's name, which I always love. But I'm also a big fan of Biblical names, and Susannah screams Biblical to me. Not sure where to land on this question!

May 22, 2012 6:20 AM

I've only known Susannah's, and the -h ending seemed more traditional to me at first.  But by and large, the -a ending has been more popular according to the trusty Name Voyager.  If it doesn't make a difference to you, I'd go with the more popular spelling so it will be easier for her to buy personalized souvenirs and the like.  I guess part of the reason why the -h seems more traditional to me is because it makes it look Biblical and less like a combination name.  But now that I looked it up and see that is was derived from Shoshana, the -a ending has a slight edge for me.

February 2, 2014 9:22 AM

I prefer Susannah over Susanna. I just think it looks prettier.