Category: classical names
Greek names, particularly for girls, are beginning to make more of a mark on the American baby namescape. The Greek Sophia is our Number 1 name, and Chloe and Zoe are at 10 and 31, respectively. Tina Fey looked back to her Greek roots for the names of her second daughter Penelope Athena and Kourtney Kardashian followed with her own little Penelope a year later. Little Greek gods and goddesses are sliding down slides in Boston and Brooklyn playgrounds, where even extreme choices like Persephone and Andromeda are becoming accepted.
But there is a wealth of baby girl names still to be imported from this ancient culture, ranging from mythological deities’ and saints’ names to botanicals to place names. Easy to pronounce, with many bearing a strong family resemblance to familiar English names, here are of the best underused Greek baby names.
When someone on our message boards suggested that we do a blog on philosophers’ names a while back, my first reaction was hmm, that sounds a bit heavy! And maybe just a bit too esoteric?
But it’s names we’re after, and, digging around, I found that there are quite a few usable first name choices in that field, from across time and a wide variety of cultures. And let’s not forget– Plato, Socrates and Aristotle (as in Onassis) are regularly used as everyday names in modern Greece.
Here are twenty worth considering, together with their philosophical isms—not that you have to plow through all their treatises to use one of their names:
Anselm, St. –Italian monk who founded Scholasticism,
Aristotle – ancient Greek philosopher, scientist and logician (not to mention the name of a character in the video game Rygar and in several comics and movies); has the user-friendly nickname Ari, as used for Mr. Onassis
Benedetto Croce—Italian philosopher who made major contributions to the aesthetics of idealism.
Jiddu Krishnamurti –Indian spiritual philosopher
Baby namers have started to dig deep back into ancient history and myth in their search for fresh and interesting choices. Roman names like Atticus are rising up the charts, and the whole pantheon of Greek and Roman gods and goddesses is up for rediscovery—already there have been such starbaby sightings as Atlas (Anne Heche), Mars (Erykah Badu) and Hermes (Kelly Rutherford).
Here, Nameberry’s Top Dozen picks in this category:
2. Echo was a mythological mountain nymph and her o-ending name carries pleasant reverberations.
3. Flora, the name of the Roman goddess of flowers and fertility, is symbolic of spring and apt for a baby born in that season. Like cousin Florence, it is definitely having a rebirth among retro name-seekers.
4. Juno, the name of the patron goddess of ancient Rome, has become a hot modern option, especially since the release of the popular eponymous film. Coldplay’s Will Champion chose it for one of his twins.
Considering July-inspired names?
Try Julian and Julia, the two endlessly popular offshoots of the classic Julius. Though more soft-spoken than the original, both retain an appealing measure of power and nobility that might explain why Hollywood A-listers like Jerry Seinfeld, Robert De Niro, and Lisa Kudrow chose Julian for their sons.
Yet there’s more to these J-names than meets the eye. Along with their many variants, Julian and Julia draw additional strength from their rich, historical roots, while also offering an assortment of sleeker, modern alternatives.
One of the earliest records of the surname Julius tracks back to Rome’s most famous patrician family, the gens Julia, who laid claim to history’s best-known Roman dictator, Gaius Julius Caesar, and boasted descent from the mythological hero Julus. The family’s shared bloodline with several Olympian gods was even outlined by Virgil in the Aeneid, leading many scholars to argue that Julian, translating to “Jove’s child” in English, references Jupiter, the Roman god of sky and thunder. Others suggest that Julian means everything from “youthful” to “downy-bearded,” leaving much of the name’s etymological origins shrouded in mystery.
Julian, borne by many illustrious saints and emperors, was coolly received in the Middle Ages, when it was first introduced, but quickly gained momentum in Italy and France during the Renaissance, in more regionalized versions like Giuliano and Julien. Julia — its female variant –mirrored such popularity trends, only becoming common in the English-speaking world during the 1700’s. Both names, however, were bestowed upon several important literary and religious figures in earlier centuries, including Saint Julian the Hospitaller, patron saint of travelers, Julian the Apostate, Rome’s last pagan Emperor, St. Julia of Corsica, and Proteus’ lover Julia in William Shakespeare’s Two Gentlemen of Verona. And Juliet— a softer, more romantic female variant– was, of course, also used by the legendary playwright in his best-known tragedy, Romeo and Juliet.
A couple of weeks ago, we looked at the favorite girls’ names on a Nameberry Message Board thread–led by the lovely Beatrix, Penelope and Clementine–and now it’s time to look over at the boys’ side.
The most striking result is the strong showing for the good old traditional, timeless classics, with many votes for William, Henry, Charles, James, Edward, Joseph, George, and Thomas, and a resurgence of interest in Theodore (#2!–perhaps because of the popularity of nickname Theo), Frederick, and Peter. Does this mean that parents are still (or once again) looking at safer, more conservative choices for their sons than their daughters? Is it somehow a reflection of the cloudy economic climate?
Some smaller trends noted: a preponderance of names starting with the vowel E—Elliot (in its various spellings), Edward, Emmett, Everett, Ethan, Ezra, Elias; and the characteristic nameberry love of some quirkier choices, several not found in the Top 500 of the Social Security list–Gideon, Amos, Emmett, Dexter, Atticus, Asa, Harvey, Callum and Cullen–and some not even on the list at all–Dashiell, Archer, Malachy, Laszlo, Ambrose. It takes time for the rest of the world to catch up!
So here, as of today, are your top choices: