Jupiter: Baby Name of the Day

by appellationmountain on January 29, 2014

Edmond Behles (1841-1924) - "Jupiter"...Take Jasper and Jude, mix in a healthy heap of Orion and Hector, and you’ll have today’s mythological moniker.

Thanks to Dahlia for suggesting Jupiter as our Baby Name of the Day.

Jupiter is the Roman equivalent of Zeus, king of the gods, and their names are linked etymologically, too.  Zeus comes from dyeus, among the oldest known terms to refer to the sky god, a rare persistence of early Indo-European roots.  It literally means shining, and has referred to god for countless generations.

Take dyeus, add the Latin pater - father, smoosh ‘em together and dyeus-pater becomes, eventually, Iuppiter and then Jupiter.

He’s also sometimes known as Jove.

The symbolism attached to the god is rich: thunderbolts, the eagle, the oak tree, the color white.  He appears on coins.  He reigned supreme in the state religion of the Roman empire until the advent of Christianity.  The mighty Roman army pledged him loyalty.

So Jupiter had a good run, and even in ancient times, the largest planet in the night sky bore his name.  Jupiter is the fifth planet from the sun, and even though modern technology has revealed more and more of the heavens, he remains the largest planet in our solar system.  Only our moon and Venus shine brighter.

But let’s take another look at the god.  Jupiter wasn’t exactly a boy scout.  He seems to have been more dignified a figure than his cousin Zeus, but ancient gods weren’t exactly virtuous role models.

And yet, Jupiter might be an inspired choice for a child.  There’s been a boom in ends-with-r choices for boys, and ancient choices like Atticus and Orion have gone mainstream.  Plus there’s that vowel sound – JudeLukeand … why not Jupiter?

Jupiter Jones was one of the Three Investigators, a trio of adolescent gumshoes who solved crimes in a popular book series from the 1960s through the 1980s.  Jupiter’s backstory is intriguing – he’s a former child star whose parents died young.  He now lives with his aunt and uncle in a junkyard, which also serves as HQ for the boys’ adventures.  He answers to the nickname Jupe.

Based on the popularity of the books, I expected to find more Jupiters.  But no.  Five boys were given the name back in 1981, and seven in 2012.

Sailor Moon includes a female character called Sailor Jupiter, but it doesn’t seem likely that we’ll hear Jupiter on girls.

Cars, ships, symphonies, and businesses have been named Jupiter, but none of the references seem especially problematic.  Place names share the name, too, including a resort in Romania and a beach in Florida.

If you’re after an unusual name that would stand out but still wear well in 2014, Jupiter is one to consider.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Julie January 29, 2014 at 5:50 PM

“Girls go to college to get more knowledge,
Boys go to Jupiter to get more stupider!”
I don’t know how widespread that taunt is anymore, but it’s the first thing I thought of…

Maybe if Juniper becomes more mainstream, Jupiter will catch on too? But in the meantime, I think Jove would be the winner here.

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waltzingmorethanmatilda January 29, 2014 at 5:22 PM

I have seen Jupiter on a couple of girls, about the same number as on boys (hardly any). I’d also be interested to see if the movie has any effect.

I think Jupiter would be really handsome, although to me it’s a male name because of the god. I’m guessing it seems like a girls name to some people because it’s a bit like Juniper.

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Madelyn January 29, 2014 at 12:46 PM

“Jupiter Ascending” is a movie starring Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis that will be released this July. And Mila Kunis’s name is Jupiter Jones! It will be interesting to see if Jupiter catches on for boys or girls.

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