Moonstruck Names: Lunar names from Callisto to Cressida to Io
But what about the names of actual moons, of some of the many satellites rotating around the planets? Luckily for us namebodies, many of their names were taken from ancient Greek mythological figures (several after lovers of Zeus)–particularly those around Jupiter and Saturn— while the names of Uranus’s twenty-seven moons have a decidedly Shakespearean bent.
Here, the Nameberry Picks of the best lunar names:
Atlas– a moon of Saturn—The son of a Titan in ancient myth, Atlas is a name that projects strength—after all he did carry the world on his shoulders. It’s more usable as a middle than a first, though actress Anne Heche did pick it for her son in 2009..
Callisto—a moon of Jupiter and the most heavily cratered body in the Solar System, discovered by Galileo in 1610. In Greek mythology, Callisto was a nymph transformed by Hera into a bear, and then by Zeus into the Big Dipper. To the modern ear, though, Callisto sounds decidedly masculine (and Callista female), and completely usable at that, with its O-ending and the nickname Cal.
Calypso—a moon of Saturn—Calypso was the nymph who seduced Odysseus and kept him on her island for seven years. In addition to its mythological tie, Calypso also evokes the appealing sound of the rhythmic West Indian music.
Elara—a moon of Jupiter—Elara was yet another lover of Zeus who—serves her right—gave birth to a giant. Lovely and lilting but rarely used, Elara would be an interesting addition to the multitude of El–starting girls’ names.
Io—a moon of Jupiter—a sulphurous moon, dotted with hundreds of volcanoes. In Greek mythology Io was one more mistress of Zeus whom he had to hide from his wife Hera—this one he turned into a white heifer. Pronounced eye-oh, this is one of the shortest names in the book, but manages to pack a lot of personality into its mere two letters.
Larissa—a moon of Neptune—In classical mythology, Larissa was a nymph who was loved by Mercury. In the modern world, it’s a delicate, underused choice that night provide an fresher alternative to Marissa, Melissa or Alyssa.
Oberon—a moon of Uranus—In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Oberon is King of the Fairies. With O-names au courant for boys, this is definitely one of the more unusual ones to consider, as is the similarly pronounced Auberon. Either could get you to the attractive nickname Bron.
Pandora—a moon of Saturn—In Greek myth, Zeus created a woman perfect in every way, except for her insatiable curiosity—and we all know what happened when she opened the forbidden box, thereby unleashing the world’s evils. Sometimes heard among upper-class Brits, Pandora has been shunned here, but with names like Dora and Theodora making a comeback, some bold namers might be more forgiving of Pandora.
Portia—a moon of Uranus—Portia played two Shakespearean roles: as the brilliant, independent-minded lawyer heroine of The Merchant of Venice and as the wife of Brutus in Julius Caesar. Completely out of the Top 1000 list for a decade, we think Portia deserves more attention. Just don’t spell it Porsche.
Rosalind—a moon of Uranus. Rosalind is the principal female character in As You Like It, and one of Shakespeare’s most charming and best loved heroines. Rosalind, like other Rose elaborations such as Rosemary and Rosalie, are on the cusp of a comeback.
So, are you over the moon (sorry!) about any of these names?
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on November 27th, 2012 at 12:29 am
Pandora is my cat’s name. I call her Panda for short. It suits her as she is a troublemaker! I named her after a character from the British TV show Skins.
on November 27th, 2012 at 12:45 am
Thalassa is my favorite, followed by Cressida.
on November 27th, 2012 at 3:19 am
Question: How do you pronounce Cressida?
on November 27th, 2012 at 7:33 am
For the longest time I have LOVED the name Callisto (for a GIRL, as it should be)…but knowing the story behind her awful demise, I don’t know if I could use it.
Also Calypso, Cressida and Cordelia…but I really need to not contribute to the spell of hard ‘C’ names in my family, lol!
on November 27th, 2012 at 7:34 am
Oh, I also wanted to say: nice as Pandora is, I think maybe it might open up a teen-world of “Pandora’s Box” jokes. Distasteful, yet very likely, sadly…
on November 27th, 2012 at 7:35 am
on November 27th, 2012 at 7:44 am
I love the name Cordelia, but it always makes me think of Anne of Green Gables, all be it in a good way.
on November 27th, 2012 at 8:00 am
Cordelia, Cressida and Rosalind are all beautiful. I’d use Io as a middle name.
on November 27th, 2012 at 8:28 am
Love ALL of these names 🙂
on November 27th, 2012 at 9:29 am
There is a two year old boy named Atlas in our neighborhood. I think it is one of the best cool and unusual names for a boy, masculine and unique, but not weird.
on November 27th, 2012 at 11:49 am
I really like Callisto for a boy
on November 27th, 2012 at 1:11 pm
I love Cordelia, Cressida, Io & Portia and all of them are on my list!
on November 27th, 2012 at 2:29 pm
Cressida is normally pronounced KRESS-i-da.
on November 27th, 2012 at 3:46 pm
Does anyone else ever notice that most of these names, along with the majority of other blog posts, are female names? More posts on interesting names for boys, please.
on November 27th, 2012 at 4:27 pm
OK, arm1, we’ll try for a better balance. But we do have many boys-only blogs too.
on November 27th, 2012 at 4:39 pm
Thanks, Linda! Girls names are already easier because there are so many pretty options…
on November 27th, 2012 at 8:13 pm
The only one I like is Thalassa.
I HATE Cordelia as well as Cornelia with such a passion. So sick of seeing it on here. It is such an ugly name, I don’t see the appeal at all…
But I really like Thalassa. I think you could stretch it a bit and use Thea as a nickname
on November 29th, 2012 at 9:45 am
Cordelia (Cordie)and Rosalind (Lindy) have been on my list a while.
But I love the sound of Cressida and absolutely just fell head over heals for Elara. I’m not sure on the pronunciation, but I’m hearing it as “Eee-lar-ah” or “Elle-larah” in my head.
Anyone know the correct way?
on June 7th, 2013 at 9:08 am
on December 1st, 2013 at 1:24 am
We love Io. But pretty put off by the Whole raped by Zeus thing.
on November 9th, 2014 at 2:02 am
If you’re going to say Callisto sounds feminine because of the ‘o’ ending, then why wouldn’t you say the same for the name Calypso. Not every ‘o’ ending has to be changed into an ‘a’ to sound feminine, I think Callisto is fine as it is!
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on November 2nd, 2016 at 8:02 pm
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