In recent years, it seems that more and more writers are taking inspiration from classical mythology and medieval bestiaries. Percy Jackson, Harry Potter, Supernatural and countless others are full of mythical creatures. This seems to be having an impact on parents, as many of these names are starting to see increased use on birth certificates.
Just in time for Halloween, here is a list of ten names inspired by mythical creatures that wouldn’t seem as out of place on the playground as you might at first think.
Cerberus – this three-headed dog (or hell-hound) seemed a lot less intimidating in Harry Potter when named Fluffy and guarding a trapdoor rather than the gates of the Underworld. The most commonly accepted pronunciation is SUR-ber-uss, meaning ‘formidable guard’ or some variation of this. Cerberus has never charted in the U.S, but it would be a very cool name for a boy.
Chimera – Pronounced ky-MEER– this one sounds like a smoosh of girls’ names Chiara and Mira. Thought to be a creature comprised of lion, snake and goat parts that breathes fire, it’s also used as a generic term to describe creatures that are composed of various animal parts. Despite the grim creature association, it has a pretty sound and could make a good girl’s name.
Dragon – Dragons capture our imagination like few other creatures, with depictions ranging from fiery vengeful beasts to wise advisers and companions. Dragon has only ever charted as a boy’s name, probably because on a boy it comes across as positive, conjuring images of strength and might, whereas calling a female a dragon is generally meant to be a slight, that her anger and “fiery” nature are uncontrollable.
Faun – Fauns generally aren’t thought of as dangerous or malevolent creatures, but they embody the Halloween tradition of trick or treat, as they’re thought to help or hinder people depending on their mood. Fauns are half human, half goat, with famous Fauns being the Greek God Pan and Mr Tumnus of Narnia. The spelling Fawn (meaning ‘young deer’) is more popular, but there is a history of the Faun version being given to girls too.
Griffin – Griffin has been charting regularly for both genders for over thirty years, but remains far more popular for boys. The Griffin was thought to be a very powerful, majestic creature as it is composed of the body, tail and rear legs of a lion (king of the beasts) and the head, wings and talons of an eagle (king of the birds). In heraldry the griffin denotes strength, courage and leadership.
Lamia – Lamia is the name of a queen from Greek mythology who became a child-eating demon. It was used as the name of the evil character played by Michelle Pfeiffer in the 2007 movie adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s ‘Stardust’. Pronounced lah-MEE-ah it has a pretty sound despite a far from pretty inspiration.
Leviathan – Those looking for a formal name for a young Levi but aren’t keen on Leviticus may instead consider Leviathan. In the Bible the Leviathan is a sea monster, but in Modern Hebrew it has come to simply mean ‘whale’. Their appearance in season 7 of ‘Supernatural’ has helped a lot to give this name a more sexy, dangerous image.
Lycan – A type of “wolf man” originating from Transylvania, Lycans can choose when to shift into wolf form rather than be controlled by the cycles of the moon as a werewolf is. Lycan has a similar look to Lucian and Lorcan, and the super hot “an” ending for boys which should make it a winner. But its scary meaning and unfortunate similarity in sound to lichen (fungus) may be what has stopped this name from ever taking off. The Underworld movies have helped to overcome this and put Lycan on the SSA charts in recent years.
Phoenix – The Phoenix is a bird renowned for dying by spontaneous combustion, only to rise again from its own ashes, hence it is a symbol of rebirth and immortality. Thirty years ago this name was an exotic rarity, but these days it is a Top 1000 name for both genders in the U.S. It still carries a high cool factor, and was recently used by actress Tammin Sursok for her daughter.
Roc – Not to be confused with Rock, a Roc is a giant mythical bird that terrorized sailors and was strong enough carry an elephant. The streamlined Roc feels like he has the potential to make it to the Top 1000 eventually, alongside other modern looking, masculine three-letter choices such as Max, Leo, Jax and Ace.
Brooke Cussans – better known on the Nameberry forums as bluejuniper – is based in Melbourne, Australia and is the author of name blog Baby Name Pondering. She especially loves rare and unusual names.