By Sophie Kihm
To me, Greek names are some of the most beautiful–though I might be biased as my own name has Greek roots. Here are some Hellenic names that deserve more notice.
Beta– Beta is the second letter of the Greek alphabet and a widely used tech term. She’s synonymous with being second, making her perfect for child number two. Add a syllable and you get Beata–another pretty European name.
Cybele– Cybele (that’s SIB-el-ee, though I’ve also heard sib-EL-ee) is a wonderful name for a strong, powerful, feminine woman, as she means “mother of all gods.” Cybele is the goddess of fertility, health, and nature–quite the trifecta for a baby girl.
Eleni– Much like the more familiar Elena, Eleni is a Greek version of Helen. She is quite popular in Greece, and I hope to see her catch on in the United States. With Elena poised to break into the top 100, it’s quite possible people will begin to look for alternatives–my pick is Eleni.
Evanthia- Evanthia has origins in ancient Greek, but was used more during the early Christian era. A saint’s name rarely found in baby name books, it is a rare, undiscovered treasure.
Hero– Hero strikes me as a feminist name, i.e. Hero not Heroine, and certainly girls can be heroes too! Heard in the Greek myth of Hero and Leander, she is also a character in Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. British singer Myleene Klass used it for her daughter.
Petra– There are plenty of female names to honor a Peter, but Petra is one of my favorites. She’s definitely a pan-European choice–most popular now in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Croatia. Petra ranked in the US Top 1000 every year up to 1951..
Sophronia– Sophia for brave namers. Sophie seems like the obvious nickname, though Phronsie and Frona are two more unique options. I’m very intrigued by Sophronia, which was used by Dickens in two of his novels and was the full name of Phronsie in the childhood classic Five Little Peppers series..
Theodosia– Theodosia is an interesting alternative to Theodora, with the same appealing nicknames, ranging from the androgynous Theo to the cutesy Dot. It was the name of Aaron Burr’s wife and daughter.
Ajax– Ajax has two common associations: Ajax the Great, a Greek hero in the Trojan War, and Ajax the cleaning product. If you can get past the latter, he is a strong and heroic Greek name, and a unique way to get to Jax.
Calix– Calix is one of the few male names that is derived from a female one. In this case, he comes from Calixta, which means “most beautiful.” If you’re looking for a novel name featuring the letter “X,” Calix is a wonderful option.
Castor– The ultimate astrology themed twinset? Castor and Pollux, obviously, as seen in the Percy Jackson series. They are the twins of the Gemini constellation. Castor is the more usable name of the two, especially in America. And if the oil association bothers you, just think–would it stop you from using Olive? Metallica’s James Hetfield used Castor for his son.
Linus– If it weren’t for the Peanuts association, Linus would be so darn popular (a la Silas, Elias and Jonas) that I wouldn’t need to include him on this list. They seem to like him in Northern Europe though, being a Top 50 name in Germany, Sweden and Norway.
Osias– Is this some biblical name you’ve never heard of? Nope, though he sure sounds like it. Osias is right on trend, plus he comes with the cool nickname Ozzie.
Ptolemy– The Pt- of Ptolemy might be hard for a kiddo to understand, but that’s no reason not to use this name. The most famous Ptolemy (actually Claudius Ptolemy) was a Greco-Egyptian writer, mathematician, astronomer and astrologer.
Theon– Another name that might appeal to mathematicians is Theon. Theon of Alexandria was a famous math teacher, and his daughter Hypatia was one of the earliest female mathematicians. He is also a character on Game of Thrones. Theon is similar enough to Theo to feel familiar, yet different enough to appear inventive.