Looking for a glittering, rare name for a daughter? Graceful Aglaia might be the answer.
Thanks to Corey for suggesting our Baby Name of the Day.
Aglaia: The Graces
This name comes directly from Greek myth. Aglaia serves as one of the three Charites or Graces. The youngest of the sisters, daughters of the god Zeus and the goddess of good order, her name translates to beauty.
While accounts vary, most list her sisters’ names as Euphrosyne – the goddess of joy – and Thalia – the goddess of festivities.
The Graces served as Aphrodite’s attendants, and were associated with celebration and enjoyment.
A handful of other characters throughout Greek mythology answered to the name, including Aesclepius’ daughter, who personified the glow of good health.
Aglaia: So Lovely as a Tree
I’ve known that Aglaia was a minor goddess for years, but somehow I’d missed this name’s nature tie-in. It refers to a genus of trees, part of the Mahogany family. They’re most found in Asia and the Pacific, so perhaps that explains why this name isn’t up there with Willow and Rowan.
Or maybe Aglaia is rare because none of the Aggie names have fared particularly well in recent years.
- Agnes, despite being chosen by Hollywood couple Jennifer Connelly and Paul Bettany, was given to just 189 girls in 2015, well below the threshold for the US top 1000.
- Agatha fared even worse, given to just 85 girls in 2015. The good news? Agatha has steadily increased in use.
It’s surprising, though, because Aggie fits right in with names parents love – all of the Maddies and Addies, Abby, Maggie, and more. If Aggie caught on, it might encourage parents to consider other ways to get to Aggie.
Besides the figures from Greek myth, the name was also worn by:
- A Greek Orthodox saint, an aristocrat who died under the Diocletian persecutions.
- Characters in Dostoevsky’s The Idiot and O. Henry’s The Church with an Over-Shot Wheel. In the later, the author wrote, “That was a brave name, truly, for a flaxen-haired toddler; but the mountaineers love sonorous and stately names. The mother had encountered it somewhere in a book, and the deed was done.”
- An asteroid discovered in 1857 was named for the goddess.
- The natural world also gives us a butterfly, and botany gives us a hybrid rose. The creator of the rose, Peter Lambert also developed roses known as Euphrosyne and Thalia.
Aglaia: Rarity Ready for Wider Use
Even if you’re an avid gardener, there’s a good chance that Aglaia isn’t on your radar. And even devotees of myth might struggle to name the Muses or the Graces or the Fates.
This name is just plain rare. The last year it was given to five or more girls was way back in 2006 – and then the number was just six newborns.
And yet, I think this name works, and here’s why:
- It comes complete with built-in nickname Aggie.
- There’s something glittering and glam about the name, just like Ava or Stella.
- Of course, A names are wildly popular, like Amelia and Alina.
- We’re all about Greek myth in recent years. Hello, Phoebe and Penelope and Chloe and … the list goes on.
So why don’t more parents consider this rarity? I suspect it has to do with sound. uh GLAY uh sounds a little – okay, maybe a lot – like ugly with a lay-uh tucked on. As if it could be mangled into Uglia.
That’s enough to give anybody pause.
And yet, if you’re a bold name after something completely unexpected, Aglaia deserves a second look.
What do you think of this name?