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. I named my daughter Calyx. People say it with a short A instead of a long A but it’s all good! I love her name and it fits her perfectly!

    1. My name is Calyx (pronounced Caalicks) I was born in 2008. I love my name and never met another me before, its good to know there are more of me!

  2. My name is Calyx and I’m a girl. I can only picture this name being for girls not boys. I’ve also never met another Calyx which is cool.

  3. I named my son Calyx Ryan. He was born in September 2014. Everyone loves his name but it is indeed often mispronounced as “Calex,” instead of with a long A.

  4. I named my son Calix (kah-liks), initially I wanted Alex or Alexander (alltimelow and arcticmonkeys haha). I think it’s unique, but I call him Lex sometimes

  5. My sons name is Calyx Dean. I’m really close to my father and he has a rare kidney disorder that involves the calyx of his kidney. I’ve yet to meet a person with the name Calyx. We pronounce it like Alex with a c in front of it!