Modern Takes on Ancient Greek Names
Whether you’d like to honor Yiayia and Papou but are worried about pronunciation issues, or you’re looking for a fresh take on classic names with long histories, the nicknames and variations of traditional Greek names below will give you numerous options when finding a suitable moniker for your little one.
Panayiota —> Penny
While Panayiota is certainly a beautiful name, it can be a mouthful for non-Greeks to pronounce. Penny is the traditional nickname for Penelope but is a lovely nickname fit for a little Panayiota or even as a stand alone. Pandora might work too.
If this traditional name appeals to you, but you’d like a shorter and easier-to-prounounce version, then Roula and Vroula fit the bill – both of these names leave you with the same timeless feel and make it easy to honor a Stavroula in your life. If, however, you’re more concerned with finding an English equivalent, Stephanie may be your closest choice. While Stavroula and Stephanie are not the same names – in fact, the Greek form of Stephanie is Stephana — they do share a similar meaning (crown).
While the name Dimitra does offer a connection to the Greek goddess of fertility, Demeter, there’s another reason this name is so popular in Greek communities today. Demetrius of Thessaloniki, a fourth century martyr, is highly regarded in the Orthodox Christian Church and lends his name to males and females alike. While Dimitra isn’t difficult to pronounce, Demi offers a modern twist.
Despina —> Desi
Another name steeped in mythology, Despiona was the daughter of Demeter and Poseidon. The more common variation, Despina, means “lady” and has been commonly bestowed upon Greek girls for centuries. While some parents like traditional, names, you may be looking for a more trendy or modern feel, which Desi definitely offers
If you’re looking for a unique name with traditional nickname options, Vasiliki might just be the one. This name, meaning “regal,” is the feminine form of Basil, a noted fourth century bishop and theologian of the Orthodox Church. As the two most common nickname choices of Vasiliki, Bessie and Betty offer classic and universally known nickname choices that age well and are starting to come back into favor.
This Greek variation of the Latin Constantine is a popular name option for Greek boys, but it may seem a bit clunky to those looking for names with a short, crisp sound. Kostas, however, offers a breezy, equally authentic name option that will grow well with your child.
If you’d like to choose a traditional Greek name that also has numerous international variations, Iakovos is an excellent choice, lending itself to two Top 10 boys’ names, Jacob and James. Jacob (Hebrew) and James (Latin) are strong, biblically-based names that translate well to a number of other languages, such as Iago in Spanish for Jacob and Séamus in Irish for James. This is a great choice for children who have more than one culture to be proud of.
Giannis/Yiannis is another name that offers a traditional and well-respected English name. John is a name with strong namesakes (St. John the Apostle and St. John the Baptist) and is commonly used in place of Giannis/Yiannis in English-speaking communities.
Vlasios —> Blaise
If the surname theme is more your thing, the English variant of Vlasios is a good consideration. Blaise broke into the Top 1000 list in 1996 after a 32-year hiatus and has been bopping between the 900s and 800s ever since. A great name that’s easy to spell and pronounce but that won’t leave your child as one of many in the classroom and on the playground.
Mihalis —> Michael and its diminutives
A variant of the Hebrew name Mikha’el, meaning “who is like God?,” Mihalis is a commonly bestowed Greek name with a number of nickname options. From the traditional Michael to the exotic Micah to the sweet Mikey, it’s easy to honor a Mihalis in your family.
What’s your favorite international name with an awesome nickname option?
Stephanie Bruce, better known on Nameberry as elizabeths, is a content writer by trade and a Junior studying for her Bachelor‘s in History. As a self-proclaimed name nerd, Stephanie has been collecting names since the age of 10 and loves names with strong ties to history. She can be found at her website www.stephaniebrucewriting.com.
About the author
View all of 's articles
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
on December 25th, 2015 at 2:27 am
First of all, most of them aren’t even Ancient names. They’re mostly biblical.
Panayiota is the feminisation of Panayiotis. It derived from the word Παναγία (Panayia) which is the way Greeks call Virgin Mary. It means “the most holly” (παν means “whole/all” and άγιος means “saint/holly”) (name day 15th of August)
Stavroula is the feminisation of Stavros which derived from the word σταυρός (cross). The names are used to honour the Holly Cross of Jesus. (Name Day 14th of September)
Despina or Despoina is indeed an Ancient Greek word which means lady. I don’t know if it was used as a name during Ancient Times. As far as I know it’s another form to adress Virgin Mary. A nickname for Despoina is Deppy/Deppie in Greece. (Name day 15th of August)
Vasiliki as you have already mentioned is a name which, regardless of the fact that it derived from Ancient Greek roots (βασιλεύς = king,ruler), is used to honour St. Basil. It’s mostly a biblical name,.not an Ancient Greek one. (Name day 1st of January)
Konstantinos is the variation of a Latin name and not the original Greek one. It has been used in order to honour St.Constantine (name day 21st of May)
Iakovos and Jacob and James are variations of biblical names. If I remember well, the name days of Iakovos in Greece are the 30th of April and the 23rd of October.
Giannis/Yiannis are again variations of a biblical name. The name day is the 7th of January
Michael: the same with Iakovos and Giannis. Nameday of Michael is the 8th of November.
Vlasios is a variation of the Latin word blaesus which means “lisp”. It isn’t a Greek name. Name day is the 11th of February
As for Dimitra, you’re right that it’s the name of an Ancient Greek goddess. However, nowadays it’s used to honour St.Demetrius (whose name derived from Dimitra). It still remains an Ancient Greek name. Name day is the 26th of October.
*The name days are the days when people in Greece celebrate the aforementioned saints of the Orthodox Church.
The names you mentioned are some of the names used in modern Greece that can be difficultly travel to America. Ancient Greek names include Antigone, Kimon, Demosthenes, Hera, Athena, Hermes etc. Dimitra is the only Ancient Greek name on your least. It doesn’t matter that it’s the name of a Saint, it still remains an Ancient Greek name as a goddess bears it.
I apologise if this is offensive, I didn’t mean to, but I want to be accurate
leave a reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.