Gerbera calyx
Image by cod_gabriel via Flickr

She’s a frills-free mythological choice with a certain flair.

Thanks to Taylor for suggesting Calyx as our botanical Baby Name of the Day.

File Calyx with Doris and Clio. Their roots are Greek, but you probably don’t know much about the original bearer of the name.

There’s more than one Calyx early days, and you might be more familiar with a different version of her name: Kalyke, Calyce, or even the Latinized Calycia.

One of the first figures was mom to Endymion, a handsome mortal. Depending on the story, he was a prince or a shepherd, possibly the son of Zeus, and in most accounts, father to fifty daughters with Selene, a moon goddess.

There’s also a nymph who helped nurse the young Dionysus. One more Calyx appears, too – she had an affair with Poseidon, and their son went on to become a king.

Thanks to all of these references, Calyx has been borrowed by astronomers. Eleven years ago, the name was given to a moon of Jupiter, though they preserved the spelling Kalyke, pronounced kal EH kee.

From the heavens to terra firma, there’s a second reference. The Greek kalyx became the Latin calyx – a term to describe the husk of a flower bud. There’s no connection to the first figure; instead, calyx comes from the Greek kylix – drinking cup – as well as kalyptein – to veil.

Whether you’re thinking of the botanical reference or the mythological one, the question is whether it will wear well on a child.

Alexander is a staple for boys. We all know girls who answer to Alex, and Alix has history as a valid variant of Alice. Girls’ names like Callie and Calla share her first syllable, as do Calvin and Caleb.

But has anyone ever answered to Calyx?

In 2009, fewer than five boys or five girls received the name, but Calyx does surface in US Census records. Most of the bearers appear to be male, but I’m at a loss to explain how he came into use.

It’s easy to imagine a parent dreaming it up these days. In fact, it does surface in news reports – but tied to a grisly murder of a teenager in early 2011. And you’ll find her on message boards, too. (My favorite: the question was “What do you think of Calyx?” and the reply was “Try a real name, like Calyce.”)

A calyx is also part of the kidney, and quite the popular name for companies – flowers and jewelry to software and business consulting. It’s a perfume from Prescriptives, and at Washington and Lee University, Calyx is the name of the yearbook.

All in all, it seems like it would wear well – like Alex, but a little different – and probably seems better suited for a girl, though it is so rare that I wouldn’t quibble with a boy called Calyx. Actually, given the rise of Felix, maybe Calyx is just right for a son.

The only trouble is that the pronunciation isn’t like Alex with a C in front; apparently it sounds like KAI licks. I don’t love that sound – and, frankly, I think you’d have to resort to a sci-fiesque spelling like Kylix to ensure that pronunciation.

Calyx is risky, but not completely outlandish. I’ll be curious to hear if anyone has ever met a Calyx!

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About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. My last name is actually Calyx (I pronounce is kay-lix), though I’m open to other pronunciations.

  2. My name is Kaiylix and I’m a girl, it’s pronounced Kay-Lix. My parents couldn’t decide between Kaylin and Alex so they put them together. The weird thing is I actually go to school with another person with the same name who’s a guy but he spells it Caylex.

  3. hello. I am a girl with the name Calyx, but I pronounce it like “Kay-Lee”. I love my name but everyone that reads my name always says “Kalics” and it used to bother me, but at least ik they are talking to me.

  4. My name is Calyx. I live in the Western United States and I pronounce it with a long a. Many local people tend to want to pronounce it with a short a, which is also fine. That said, whilst living in England, I became accustomed to the majority of British using the short a pronunciation, as well as to hearing my name pronounce Kell-EEKS (like, “here comes Kelly—eeks!”) mostly from French and Asian folks. My name comes from an old French family surname spelled Calix, pronounced with the latter inflection; although when I acquired it, it was for the botanical reference. Long story short: I’m easy going with the various pronunciations I hear.

  5. We named our son after intially seeing the name Calyx but we put any confusion aside when we altered its spelling giving him the name Kaylx. The switch to K is to correspond with the first letter of my name which is Keith. Being from East Tennesssee his mother and I abandoned the C version for fear of being pronounced cow-licks and modified it to the K version hoping to get it to be pronounced Kay-Lex!

  6. I have a neighbor named Calyx, she must be around 7 now, lovely girl and big sister to Twila. I was unsure of the names at first, but they’ve grown on me.