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Greek Baby Names for Modern Kids

Classic Greek baby names are a rich source of modern names, But which Greek names work best for today's babies? Some names of ancient gods and goddesses — such as Apollo and Calliope — have become newly baby-appropriate, while there are many other traditional names that have Greek roots.

Along with Apollo and Calliope, other Greek names for modern kids in the US Top 1000 include Aries, Daphne, Iris, Matthias, Ophelia, Orion, Penelope, and Sophia. Neglected Greek classics due to come back in style over the next decade or so include Cyril, Agatha, Homer, and Lois.

Consult this list if you’re looking for a name with modern style but traditional roots. Here is our pick of the best Greek baby names today.

Modern Greek Baby Names
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AtticusHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "from Attica"
  • Description:

    Atticus derives from the Greek Attikos, meaning “from Attica,” the Ancient Greek region that contained Athens. Atticus is a literary name in more ways than one. Before it became synonymous with Atticus Finch, the name Atticus was associated with Titus Pomponius Atticus, a Roman literary figure.

IrisHeart

  • Origin:

    Flower name; also Greek
  • Meaning:

    "rainbow"
  • Description:

    Iris is directly derived from the Greek word iris, meaning “rainbow.” In Greek mythology, Iris was the goddess of the rainbow, a messenger for Zeus and Hera who rode the rainbow as a multicolored bridge from heaven to earth. In ancient times, the Iris was considered a symbol of power and majesty, the three petal segments representing faith, wisdom and valor. This colorful image led to the naming of the flower and to the colored part of the eye.

OpheliaHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "help"
  • Description:

    Ophelia is a beautiful name that has long been hampered by the stigma of Hamlet's tragic heroine—for whom he seems to have invented the name—but more and more parents are beginning to put that association aside. There is also a gutsy Ophelia in Harriet Beecher Stowe's 1852 Uncle Tom's Cabin, which seems to have had some influence on baby namers at the time.

TheodoreHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "gift of God"
  • Description:

    Theodore is a derivative of the Latin Theodorus, a variation of the Greek name Theodōros. The components are from the Greek words theos, meaning “God,” and dōron, meaning “gift,” giving Theodore the meaning “God-given” or “gift of God.” Names with similar origins include Theodora, Dorothy, and Dorothea.

CoraHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "maiden"
  • Description:

    In classical mythology, Cora—or Kore—was a euphemistic name of Persephone, goddess of fertility and the underworld. Kore was the name used when referencing her identity as the goddess of Spring, while Persephone referred to her role as queen of the Underworld. Cora gained popularity as a given name after James Fenimore Cooper used it as the name of his heroine, Cora Munro, in his 1826 novel The Last of the Mohicans.
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TheoHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Theodore
  • Meaning:

    "gift of God"
  • Description:

    Many modern parents use Theo as the short form for Theodore rather than the dated Ted--including some celebs, such as Dallas Bryce Howard-- but others bypass the Grandpa name Theodore entirely and skip right to the hip nickname Theo. Short and ultra-chic, Theo's a cool, contemporary baby name choice.

AtlasHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek mythology
  • Meaning:

    "bearer of the heavens"
  • Description:

    Previously thought too powerful for a baby boy – who would have to be strong enough to carry the world on his shoulders – Atlas has joined the pantheon of Greek and Roman god and goddess names now in the realm of possibility, along with Mars, Zeus and Apollo. It was one of the fast-rising names on the list in recent years in the USA, jumping from oblivion in 2012 into the Top 500 in 2015, and climbing several hundred places higher since then. Anne Heche was one of the first to make this audacious choice, but several celebrity parents have followed suit.

DaphneHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "laurel tree, bay tree"
  • Description:

    In Greek mythology, Daphne was the nymph daughter of Peneus, a river god. Peneus saved Daphne from Apollo’s romantic obsessions by transforming her into a laurel tree. It is from this myth that the plant genus daphne, which contains the laurel species, gets its name.

SebastianHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin from Greek
  • Meaning:

    "person from ancient city of Sebastia"
  • Description:

    Sebastian is derived from the Greek Sebastianos, meaning “from Sebastia.” Sebastia was a city in Asia Minor—modern day Sivas, Turkey. Sebastian is a name with a substantial history, first as the third-century martyr whose sufferings were a favorite subject of medieval artists, then as the name of memorable characters in such varied works as Shakespeare's Twelfth Night and The Tempest and Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited.

OrionHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek mythology name
  • Description:

    Orion is a rising star, with both mythical and celestial overtones.
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LyraHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "lyre"
  • Description:

    Lyra is a constellation name taken from the lyre of Orpheus. It contains the star Vega and thus could make a melodic choice for a parent interested in music, astronomy, or mythology. It has more depth and history than Lyric, is more unusual than Lila (which it rhymes with). It debuted in the US Top 1000 in 2015.

ChloeHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "young green shoot"
  • Description:

    Chloe appeared in Greek mythology as an alternative name for the goddess of agriculture and fertility, Demeter. She was referred to as Chloe in the spring months, due to the name’s relation to sprouts and growth. Chloe is also mentioned in the New Testament as the name of a Greek Christian woman.

PhoebeHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "radiant, shining one"
  • Description:

    Phoebe is the Latin variation of the Greek name Phoibe, which derived from phoibos, meaning “bright.” In classical mythology, Phoebe is the by-name of Artemis, goddess of the moon and of hunting. The masculine version of Phoebe is Phoebus.

PenelopeHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "weaver"
  • Description:

    Penelope is a name from Greek mythology; she was the wife of Odysseus in Homer’s Odyssey. It has two possible origin stories—Penelope was either derived from the Greek pēnē, meaning “thread of a bobbin,” or penelops, a type of duck. Mythological Penelope was cared for by a duck as an infant, and later was known for delaying her suiters by pretending to weave a garment while her husband was at sea.

EliasHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek variation of Elijah, Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "Yahweh is God"
  • Description:

    Elias, strong and charismatic, is following in the path of family members Elijah and Eli, and is also moving on up in popularity.
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TobiasHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek from Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "God is good"
  • Description:

    Tobias is the Greek form of the Hebrew Tobiah, which was derived from the name Toviyah. Toviyah was created from the elements tov, meaning “good” and yah, representing the Hebrew God. Tobias is the name of several biblical figures but is primarily associated with the story of Tobias and the Angel.

TheaHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "goddess, godly"
  • Description:

    Thea is a diminutive of names ending in -thea, including Dorothea, Althea, and Anthea. It is also the Anglicized spelling of Theia, the Titan of sight, goddess of light, and mother of the moon. She was the consort of Hyperion, and mother of Helios, Selene, and Eos.

AnastasiaHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek, feminine variation of Anastasios
  • Meaning:

    "resurrection"
  • Description:

    Anastasia is the feminine form on Anastasius, a Greek name derived from the word anastasis, meaning “resurrection.” It was a common name among early Christians, who often gave it to daughters born around Christmas or Easter. There are handful of saints named Anastasia, including the patron saint of weavers.

NicoHeart

  • Origin:

    Italian diminutive of Nicholas, Greek
  • Meaning:

    "people of victory"
  • Description:

    Nico is one of the great nickname names, full of charm, energy and effortless cool -- a neo Nick.

PersephoneHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek mythology name
  • Description:

    Persephone is the esoteric name of the Greek mythological daughter of Zeus by Demeter, the queen of the harvest. After she was kidnapped by Hades to be Queen of the Underworld, it was decreed by Zeus that she would spend six months of the year with her mother, allowing crops to grow, and six in mourning, thus accounting for the seasons.
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AthenaHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek mythology name
  • Description:

    The given name Athena was derived from the city name Athens, which is of uncertain origins. In Greek mythology, Athena is the name of the daughter of Zeus who was the goddess of wisdom, warfare, handicrafts, mathematics, and courage, among others. She was the great patroness-goddess of the city of Athens. In the Odyssey, Homer describes her as 'sparkling-eyed Athena.'

ZoeHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "life"
  • Description:

    The history of Zoe begins in the third century when the Alexandrian Jews translated Eve, which means 'life,' to the Greek equivalent Zoe. Zoe was in use as far back as the Roman classical period, and was popular with the early Christians, who bestowed it with hopes of eternal life, but it didn't migrate to the English-speaking world until the mid-nineteenth century. Alternate spellings include Zoey, Zoie, and Zooey.

ElenaHeart

  • Origin:

    Spanish, Italian, German, Greek variation of Helen
  • Meaning:

    "bright, shining light"
  • Description:

    Elena, a pan-European version of Helen, has roots in Spanish, Italian, Slavic, and Romanian, among others. Helen, the name from which it derives, came from the Greek word helene, meaning “torch.” Alternate spellings include Elaina, Ellena, and Alena.

AlexanderHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "defending men"
  • Description:

    Alexander is derived from the Greek name Aléxandros, composed of the elements aléxein, meaning “to defend,” and aner, meaning “man.” According to Greek legend, the first Alexander was Paris, who was given the nickname Alexander by the shepherds whose flocks he defended against robbers. He was followed by Alexander the Great, aka Alexander III, who conquered much of Asia.

CalliopeHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek mythology name
  • Meaning:

    "beautiful voice"
  • Description:

    Calliope is the name of the muse of epic poetry -- and also the musical instrument on the merry-go-round. Bold and creative, it would not be the easiest name for a girl lacking such qualities. It debuted in the US Top 1000 in 2016. While Americans usually pronounce this name with a long I sound and the emphasis on the second syllables, Greeks pronounce it with the emphasis on the third syllable -- ka-lee-OH-pee.
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AlexandraHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek, feminine form of Alexander
  • Meaning:

    "defending men"
  • Description:

    Alexandra is the feminine form of Alexander, which ultimately derived from the Greek components alexein, meaning “to defend,” and anēr, “man.” In Greek mythology, Alexandra was an epithet of the goddess Hera. International variations include Alessandra and Alejandra.

AndromedaHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek mythology name
  • Meaning:

    "advising like a man"
  • Description:

    One of the stellar unique baby names from mythology, Andromeda was the beautiful daughter of Cassiopeia who, like her mother, literally became a star--the constellation that bears her name.The Bohemian Andromeda makes a dramatic and adventurous choice in a time when four-syllable mythological names are gradually making their way into the mainstream.

ZephyrHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "west wind"
  • Description:

    If you're looking for a boy's name that's light and breezy, this could be it. A name from mythology: Zephyrus/Zephyr was the Greek god of the west wind-- with many European variations, it's a name that's frequently seen in computer and video games, is a character in the children's book Silverwing, and appears in the Babar books--as a monkey.

ApolloHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek mythology name
  • Description:

    With mythological names rising, the handsome son of Zeus and god of medicine, music, and poetry among many other things might offer an interesting, if high-pressure, option. But if Romeo and Venus are now deemed baby-appropriate, why not Apollo? Olympic speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno might inspire some parents. And now that it's been chosen by Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale, it could take off as their first son's name—Kingston—has.

SophiaHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "wisdom"
  • Description:

    Sophia was derived from sophia, the Greek word for wisdom. The name was first famous via St. Sophia, venerated in the Greek Orthodox church—St. Sophia was the mother of three daughters named Faith, Hope and Love. It was first used in England in the seventeenth century and was the name of George I's both mother and wife.
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AriadneHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "most holy"
  • Description:

    This name of the Cretan goddess of fertility is most popular now as the more melodic Ariana, but Ariadne has possibilities of its own. It first entered the US Top 1000 in 2014. The renewed interest in the name falls in line with the revival of other mythological names like Apollo and Athena. The trendy nickname Ari doesn't hurt either.

LeonHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek variation of Leo
  • Meaning:

    "lion"
  • Description:

    Leon is one of the leonine names that is extremely hot in Europe right now. Although it peaked here in the 1920s, it is slowly making its way back, and it could climb further with parents wanting a more serious and studious alternative to Leo.

NicholasHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "people of victory"
  • Description:

    Nicholas is derived from the Greek Nikolaos, a name that evolved from the components nikē, meaning “victory”, and laos, “people.” It shares origins with Nike, the name of the Greek goddess of victory. Nicholas is also a New Testament name that is well-used in literature, such as in Dickens's Nicholas Nickleby.

NyxHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek mythology name
  • Description:

    In Greek mythology, Nyx was a powerful goddess and the embodiment of the night, but when spoken, its negative meaning can't be ignored.

MaiaHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "mother"
  • Description:

    Maia was derived from the Greek word maia, meaning “mother.” In Greek legend, she was the fair-haired daughter of Atlas who mothered Zeus's favorite illegitimate son, Hermes. To the Romans, Maia was the incarnation of the earth mother and goddess of spring, after whom they named the month of May. Maya is the more common spelling.
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CressidaHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "gold"
  • Description:

    Cressida is a pretty mythological and Shakespearean heroine name much better known in Britain than it is here — an imbalance the adventurous baby namer might want to correct. For although the Trojan heroine of that name in the tale told by Boccaccio, then Chaucer, then Shakespeare, didn't have the greatest reputation — she was faithless to Troilus and broke his heart — the name today sounds fresh, crisp and creative.

ArtemisHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek mythology name
  • Description:

    Artemis, one of the key figures of the female Greek pantheon, is the ancient virgin goddess of the hunt, wilderness, animals, childbirth, and a protector of young girls, later associated with the moon. Artemis is the equivalent to the Roman Diana, but a fresher and more distinctive, if offbeat, choice.

HermioneHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek, feminine version of Hermes, "messenger, earthly"
  • Meaning:

    "messenger, earthly"
  • Description:

    Hermione's costarring role in Harry Potter has made this previously ignored, once stodgy name suddenly viable. Hermione could really take off once today's children start having kids of their own.

IsadoraHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "gift of Isis"
  • Description:

    Why is Isabella megapopular while Isadora goes virtually ignored? Too close a tie with tragic modern dancer Isadora Duncan (born Angela Isadora), who was done in by her long flowing scarf, perhaps, or with fusty male version Isidore. But we think Isadora is well worth reevaluating as an Isabella alternative. Quirky couple singer Bjork and artist Matthew Barney did just that and named their daughter Isadora. Isidora would be an alternative, just as proper but not quite as charming spelling--the one used as the spelling of a fourth century saint's name.

AltheaHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "with healing power"
  • Description:

    Althea is a poetic, almost ethereal name found in Greek myth and pastoral poetry, associated in modern times with the great tennis player Althea Gibson, the first African-American to win at Wimbleton.
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AchillesHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "thin-lipped"
  • Description:

    The name of the great Homeric hero with the vulnerable heel (portrayed by Brad Pitt in Troy) is widely used in European versions but rarely here. It certainly make a strong statement It premiered on the US Top 1000 list in 2015 and has been climbing ever since.

AdonisHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek, from Semitic Adonai
  • Meaning:

    "lord"
  • Description:

    The name of a figure from Greek mythology, Adonis is a high-pressure name often synonymous with masculine beauty. Nonetheless, many mythological names that would have previously been deemed off limits have made their way up the popularity charts—for instance, Penelope currently ranks highly for girls. And indeed, Adonis was one of the fastest-rising boys' names of 2016, moving up 307 spots on the U.S. popularity chart in just one year.

DamianHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "to tame, subdue"
  • Description:

    Damian has sidestepped its demonic horror movie overtones, leaving a basically friendly and charming Irish image. A well-used upper-class name in England, it is growing in popularity here.

RheaHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek mythology name
  • Meaning:

    "a flowing stream"
  • Description:

    Old-style creative name of the Greek mythological earth mother of all the gods. A lot better than the Roman equivalent: Ops. Rhea reentered the US Top 1000 in 2015. Its only previous appearance on the list since 1968 was 2004.

HelenaHeart

  • Origin:

    Latinate form of Helen, Greek
  • Meaning:

    "bright, shining light"
  • Description:

    Helena is a more delicate and dainty version of Helen, a favorite of Shakespeare, who used it in both All's Well That Ends Well and A Midsummer's Night Dream. Historically, Helena was the mother of Constantine the Great (and, supposedly, the daughter of Old King Cole), who became a fourth century saint--Evelyn Waugh wrote his only historical novel, Helena, based on her story.
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CosmoHeart

  • Origin:

    Italian from Greek
  • Meaning:

    "order, beauty"
  • Description:

    We all heard it on "Seinfeld" as the long-concealed first name of Kramer, now some pioneering parents are wondering if this expansive Greek name that seems to embrace the whole cosmos could make a creative and cool choice for their baby.

CassiaHeart

  • Origin:

    Feminine form of Cassius or Greek
  • Meaning:

    "cinnamon"
  • Description:

    Cassia is related to the cassia tree, which has yellow flowers and produces a spice that can be a substitute for cinnamon. Keziah, the name of Job’s daughter in the Old Testament, derives from the name of the plant as well. Cassia also has ties to the Ancient Roman name Cassius, an Ancient Roman family name meaning “hollow.”

DorianHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek, name of a tribe
  • Description:

    The Dorians were an ancient Greek tribe, one of the three major pre-Spartan tribes. It literally means “of Doris,” a Greek district, or “of Doros,” referring to the son of Helen of Sparta. Dorian derives from the Greek doron, meaning “gift,” along with related names such as Dorothy and Dora.

AgnesHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "pure, virginal"
  • Description:

    Agnes is the Latin variation of the name Hagne, which itself derived from the Greek word hagnos, meaning “chaste.” In medieval times, St. Agnes was a very popular saint, leading to its popularity as a girl's name. Agnes Grey is the title of one of the two novels written by Anne Brontë.

LazarusHeart

  • Origin:

    Latinized Greek variation of Hebrew Eleazar
  • Meaning:

    "God is my helper"
  • Description:

    Lazarus is a name that looks as if it could possibly be raised from the dead, just like its biblical bearer. Look for it in the next wave of Old Testament revivals that transcend their long-bearded images, the way Noah, Moses, and Abraham have for this generation.
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