The name Zabel (pronounced Zah-bell) might be popular in Armenia, but it’s relatively unknown in the US. But that was no problem for Kristine and her husband — in fact, a baby name that was a little offbeat suited them just fine. Here’s the story of why this Californian family chose the name for their second-born daughter.
My husband is Armenian, and we wanted an Armenian name for our younger daughter. My sister-in-law lived in Armenia for four years after college and went by the name Zabel. She had already moved back to the United States and gone back to her own name when I got pregnant.
I liked a few names but my husband rejected them all as being old lady names, so we asked my sister-in-law if we could “have” Zabel.
Did you have any particular naming guidelines in mind?
We wanted an Armenian name for our younger daughter. Her sister’s name is Ophelia, so it had to go well with that. Also we didn’t want anything popular.
Even though it’s not Armenian, I was giving serious consideration to “Violet.” Violet Affleck is two weeks older than Zabel, and the moment I heard that was going to be her name I completely lost interest in Violet, and Zabel totally won for me.
When did you decide on a name?
A couple months before she was born.
When did you tell people the name you had chosen?
We have an older daughter and got grief for her name (Ophelia). This time around, we decided to wait to tell most people.
How did people react to the name?
Most people think we’re saying “Isabel.” If they see Zabel in writing before they hear it, they think it rhymes with Mabel. Once they understand what her name is, they say it’s interesting. We’ve been told several times by Armenians that it’s their grandma or auntie’s name.