Ten Most Magical Mythological Names
By Linda Rosenkrantz
There’s a certain magic, romance and power in ancient mythological names, with their ascribed virtues (and vices), their deep history and fascinating stories, their familiar yet otherworldly resonance– and parents are falling more and more under their spell.
In the past, only a few god and goddess names, like Diana and Phoebe, seemed usable for a mortal child, but now—thanks in part to their starring roles in pop culture epics–the whole pantheon of Greek, Roman and even Norse deities is up for grabs.
Here are ten of the best.
APOLLO, Greek god of music, poetry, prophecy and medicine
The name of the handsome son of Zeus, Apollo was the Greek god of music, poetry, prophecy and medicine. It has recently come down to earth and landed on birth certificates, including that of the son of Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale. Other cool associations include the NASA program that put man on the moon and the historic Harlem theater, legendary for launching musical superstar careers. Apollo has reached #535 on the US list, 267 on Nameberry.
The enchanting name of the beautiful Roman goddess of the dawn whose tears turned into the morning dew upped its romantic fairy-tale aura via the princess in Disney’s Sleeping Beauty–though the possible everyday nickname Rory brings it back down to earth. Aurora is a name with both Harry Potter and Marvel comics cred. Aurora is just outside the Top 50 on the SSA list and an even higher #8 on Nameberry.
FREYA, Norse goddess of love, beauty and fertility
From Norse mythology comes Freya, the beautiful goddess of love, beauty and fertility. Among the fastest rising US names in recent years, Freya is one of several Scandinavian names being discovered by American parents. Other up-and-comers in this hot category include Axel, Linnea, Viggo, Ingrid, August, Anders, Greta, Kai, Liv, Stellan, Gunnar, Magnus and Matthias. Freya is a Top 20 name in England and Scotland and #77 on Nameberry.
IRIS, Greek goddess of the rainbow
A vintage flower name coming back in a big way, Iris has some not-so-obvious mythological roots. In ancient Greek myth Iris was the goddess of the rainbow, a messenger for Zeus who rode the rainbow as a colorful bridge from heaven to earth. Strong yet delicate, Iris was chosen by Eddie Redmayne, Jude Law and by Judd Apatow and Leslie Mann for their daughters. Ranking at #149 in the US, Iris is a Top 50 name in Sweden, Iceland and Portugal—and on NB.
The name Juno, that of the patron Goddess of Rome and protector of women and marriage, is a great example of an ancient name with a freshly-minted, modern feel. Thanks to its lively o-ending and the influence of the popular 2007 film Juno, Juno is high on many prospective parents’ possibility lists. It’s #258 on Nameberry and was chosen for their daughters by musician Will Champion and actor Jeffrey Wright.
The name of the supreme Roman deity (as well as the largest planet in the solar system) has a legitimate first-name history tied to 18th century Jupiter Hammon, the first published African-American poet in the US. Parents are attracted to its buoyant, bouncy, 3-syllable sound, similar to the rising girls’ name of Juniper. It’s #636 on NB.
ODIN, Norse god of art, culture, wisdom and law
Odin is the name of the supreme Norse god of art, culture, wisdom and law—who was dreamily handsome, charming and eloquent into the bargain. A strong two-syllable name starting with the winning letter O, much like the mega popular Owen, Odin is featured in Marvel comics as the father of Thor and Loki. Backstreet Boy Nick Carter has a son named Odin, a name that has jumped over 600 places since it entered the list in 2008. And, not surprisingly, it has been as high as #56 in Norway.
ORION, Greek legendary hunter
The Greek mythological Orion was a legendary hunter who was placed by Zeus as one of the brightest constellations in the night sky, giving the name both mythical and celestial overtones. Chris “Mr. Big” Noth bestowed it on his son and it’s also the name of Sirius Black’s father in Harry Potter. The pronunciation—Oh-RYAN—also gives it a kinda Irish feel—legit or not. Orion currently ranks at #334.
THOR, Norse god of strength and thunder
The name of the Norse god of strength and thunder, son of Odin, is as powerful as his mythological image. Thor was most recently brought to life in a series of star-studded Marvel superhero movies, in the form of hunky Chris Hemsworth.. Quite commonly heard in its native Scandinavia, Thor has just begun to make inroads with US parents seeking a quintessentially strong name. In addition to its Scandinavian popularity, Thor ranks at 419 on Nameberry. Tor is a variation.
ZEPHYR, Greek wind god
In Greek mythology, Zephyr was the god of the west wind, so if you’re looking for an unusual ancient name that’s still light and breezy—and unisex– this could be it. It’s a name that’s frequently seen in computer and video games and was the choice of tech entrepreneur Sean Parker for his son in 2014. Zephyr is #714 on Nameberry.
Would you choose a mythological name for your child?
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on August 14th, 2018 at 8:53 am
Of this list, I really like Aurora, Freya, and Iris. My favorite mythological name is Persephone, though I’m not sure how usable it is given the connotations.
on August 14th, 2018 at 9:28 am
Iris is the top entry on my list of girls’ names; I love it! Although I think of it as more of a nature name than a mythological one.
I wouldn’t personally use any of the others from this list – although this is partly down to personal preference. I’m not a particular fan of Freya or Aurora, Orion or Apollo, but I think they could work in the modern world.
Odin and Thor I’m not so sure about, though – I think they’ve become too tied to the Marvel franchise, and calling your child either of those names will make you look more like a fan of the Avengers than of Norse mythology.
Juno is too associated with the eponymous film to be usable, at least for me – although it’s a pretty name nonetheless.
As for Zephyr – it’s still a little too out-there for me to consider it, but I can see why a more adventurous baby-namer might find it appealing.
on August 14th, 2018 at 10:03 am
I love Freya, Orion, and Iris.
on August 14th, 2018 at 6:37 pm
I like all the girls from this, and I quite like Orion, plus the character connection with Thor, although I’d probably more likely use Loki haha. Artemis is one of my top names for girls, and I adore Athena too. I love their strength, toughness, and passion. I have fewer for boys, I tend to find mythological deity boys names a bit too big, harsh, and masculine for the style of names I like (adventurous, boyish, and on the softer side), but there are a few I like, maybe for other people’s kids.
on August 15th, 2018 at 11:07 am
My favorite mythological names not really mentioned here are Atlas,Calliope, and Loki. Not quite brave enough to use any of these on a human (though I could see using Atlas if I ever had a boy). But I did name my cat Loki!
on August 15th, 2018 at 2:50 pm
A great list!
I also love Atlas, Artemis (unfortunately I used that one for my cat though,) Persephone, Echo, and Icarus.
In highschool I knew a Thor, back then it was almost unheard of here and I remember some people weren’t very nice about it. Now I see little Thors and Lokis all the time! Most recently I met a set of brothers named Braxton, Thor, and Loki.
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