by Linda Rosenkrantz
It’s not that Greek girl names have been totally neglected. After all, in the US Top 300 alone, we find Sophia at #5, followed by Chloe and Zoe, Penelope, Cora, Lydia, Alexa and Alexandra, Iris, Evangeline and Thea.
But there is still a wealth of Greek girl names waiting to be restored, all of them rich in history, many with intriguing mythological stories, some with roots in nature. A few of them have already been rediscovered by our perspicacious berries, but none has made its mark in the wider name world.
Here are 14 of the best.
ACACIA—The pretty name of a tree and shrub that’s related to the mimosa family, with white or yellow blossoms that symbolize resurrection and immortality in Greek mythology. The name also has biblical ties via the Acacia wood used for the Ark of the Covenant. Sometimes heard in Australia, Acacia would make a fresh bookended-A name here. (Unranked nationally, it’s 317 on Nameberry.)
ALALA—This name of a mythical sister of Mars has the double-L sound parents are loving in Lila, Lola, Layla, etc. It’s pronounced to rhyme with Malala. But is it a little too sing-songy? What do you think?
AMARANTHA—Another rare and attractive Greek botanical option, again with the trendy a-beginning and end; its extra syllable helps make it more distinctive than the overused Samantha. The amaranth is a flower that signifies mortality.
CRESSIDA—Found in Shakespeare as well as Greek mythology, the lacy Cressida means ‘gold’. Her main modern association is to the film director character in The Hunger Games. Cressida has been discovered on Nameberry, where it ranks at #296.
ECHO—A Greek name with haunting reverberations; in the Greek myth Echo was a nymph whose unrequited love caused her to fade away until all that was left was the sound of her voice. Joss Whedon used the name for the heroine of his sci-fi Dollhouse series and rocker Nick Hexum named his daughter Echo Love.
EUGENIA—One vintage girl name yet to be revived, Eugenia was popular a century ago, but has been off the list since 1980. Eugenie was the almost-name of Scarlett O’Hara’s daughter in GWTW and was the birth name of the Emma Stone ‘Skeeter’ character in ‘The Help.
GAIA—In Greek mythology, Gaia was the earth goddess, a very important deity, and the name could well be a companion to Maia and Kaia. Emma Thompson used it for her daughter specifically because of its ecological element.
IANTHE—Like Violet and Lilac, Ianthe is a purple flower name. A favorite of the early pastoral poets, it was chosen by the poet Shelley for his daughter, as well as modern American writer Richard Brautigan. Ianthe has a poetic, romantic, almost ethereal aura. In the ancient Greek myth, she was the daughter of Oceanus, supreme ruler of the sea.
IO—Proof that a two-letter name can still pack a lot of strength and substance, especially when each letter is a separate syllable. Io was a mythological maiden loved by Zeus and much later played a major role in Clash of the Titans. It’s also a moon of Jupiter.
THALASSA—One more appealing name that’s accessible but rarely used. Thalassa has several interesting associations, including as the primeval spirit of the sea– indeed, its meaning is “sea.” Some people may remember Thalassa Cruso, a one-time TV gardening maven.
THEODOSIA—With all the current love for Theodore, Theodora, Theo and Thea, perhaps we could extend some for this underused variation. Theodosia was the name of Aaron Burr’s wife and daughter, inspiring a song in Hamilton. A plus: all Theo/Thea nicknames apply.
XANTHE–Pronounced ZAN-thee, Xanthe is in the Top 800 in the UK and 196 on Nameberry, but the rest of the US has yet to catch on to this shimmering golden gem starting with the magnetic letter X. It derives from the Greek word meaning yellow. It’s a Nameberry fave, now at #196. XENIA is another excellent Greek girl name X possibility.
What’s your favorite Greek girls’ name?
Linda Rosenkrantz is the co-founder of Nameberry, and co-author with Pamela Redmond Satran of the ten baby naming books acknowledged to have revolutionized American baby naming. In addition to contributing stories on trends and celebrity naming, she guides the editorial content and manages the Nameberry Twitter and Facebook accounts. You can follow her personally at Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. She is also the author of the highly acclaimed New York Review Books Classics novel Talk and a number of other books.