Silver shekel issued by King Darius I of Persi...
Silver shekel issued by King Darius I of Persia; Image via Wikipedia

He’s an ancient ruler and a modern rocker.

Thanks to Fran and Annelise for suggesting Darius as our Baby Name of the Day.

In the Bible, Darius is the king who tosses Daniel into the lion’s den.  But he’s not exactly a villain – more a victim of a plot engineered by Daniel’s rivals.  Darius is so moved by Daniel’s miraculous survival that he issues a decree declaring the God of Daniel “the living God.”  Daniel resumes his post as trusted adviser to the king, and they all live happily ever after.

A string of Persian kings wore the name Darius, but there’s much debate about which one appears in the Book of Daniel.

Darius I ruled in the fifth century BC, and it was a very busy reign, indeed.  He adopted Aramaic as his empire’s official language, standardized the currency and administration, and invaded Greece.  Two more Persian rulers wore the name.  The second is fairly obscure.  Darius III reigned in the fourth century BC, and is remembered mostly for losing his empire to Alexander the Great.

The name remained in use, however.  Darius is the Latin version of a Greek name derived from the Persian Darayavahush.  Modern versions of Darius are many, including:

  • Dariush in Iranian
  • Dariusz in Polish
  • Dario in Italian

There’s a minor Saint Darius, too.

In other words, Darius is another one of those names that travels very well, but has a relatively limited history in English.  He’s picked up steam in the twentieth century, and you might recognize a few, like:

  • French composer Darius Milhaud;
  • Retired Russian NHL star Darius Kasparaitis;
  • Former NBA All-Rookie Darius Miles;
  • In the NFL, Darius Reynaud plays for the Giants;
  • Polish race car driver Darius Grala;
  • Iranian singer Dariush Eghbali.

American history gives us a few figures, including Civil War general Darius Couch.

There’s also Darius McCrary, currently appearing on The Young and the Restless as Malcolm.  You know him better as Eddie Winslow from long-running sitcom Family Matters.

Family Matters debuted on ABC in 1989.  Darius had started his climb in the 1950s, entering the rankings, and climbing steadily over the decades.  But 1989 was the year Darius entered the US Top 200.  Like Dante, he found favor with African American families.

Darius had his moment in the sun back in the 1990s.  He peaked at #150 in 1990 and 1991.

Three years later, Darius Rucker led Hootie and the Blowfish to the top of the pop charts with “Hold My Hand” and a string of equally catchy tunes.  The Blowfish faded, but Rucker’s career as a solo artist has flourished.  Get this, though: he’s crossed over to the country charts, where he’s scored a number of firsts for an African American musician.

At #334, Darius is fading today, but ancient names aren’t out of steam just yet.  If Julius and Atticus still sound fresh and stylish, Darius could wear nicely, too – especially if you’re attracted to him as a cross-cultural option.

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.

You May Also Like:

What do you think?


  1. Thank you so much for profiling Darius! I knew he was a Persian king, but I couldn’t remember which one he was.

    Question: We really love the name Isadora for a girl, with Dora/Dori the most likely nicknames. But Dora + Darius seems like a little much. Any ideas for getting around that?

    1. How about Isa (Eye-sa or EE-sa, it’s up to you) for Isadora? I think Izzy is also an adorable nickname.

  2. Darius is one I like to recommend to parents who want something just a little bit different. I also like the Italian and Spanish form Dario. Very nice.

  3. I honestly had no idea that Darius was a Biblical name; it definitely makes me like it more.

    This is probably just me, but I find the pronunciation issues with a name like Darius to be somewhat more annoying than with a name like Saoirse. At least for my own potential future offspring. It might be that I over think this because there are so many wonderful Arabic names (like Nasser) that I would love to use but I just can’t get over the potential mangling of that ‘ah’ sound.

    I like DAHR-ee-us a lot more than DARE-ee-us, even though the former just makes me think of the girls name Daria.

  4. My friend’s brother is named Darius (they pronounce it DARE-ee-us, which is the way I’ve always heard it). I always thought it was a very handsome name. It’s intesting that there are so many variations and pronunciations; I like all of them.

  5. I have a Dario in class this year. It suits him well. I find that name slightly more wearable than the Latin Darius.

  6. I have a friend with a young son named Darius (they pronounce it as DAHR-ee-us.) While it’s not a favorite of mine… he’s a very handsome boy and I appreciate that his name is familiar and yet a somewhat uncommon Biblical name.

  7. I love both Darius & Dario. I’ve known guys with both versions which is why I can’t use them. Dariusz is a cousin too, one of the many, many cousins on Mom’s side. (last count, over 800 family members on that side!)

    Darius is handsome and so smooth, like silk and Dario’s sprightly. It’s funny, Darius for me is Dar(rhymes w/car)-ee-oosz, with a slight z on the end. Must be all the Polish I was bombarded with until I was 15! But a lot of the ‘s’ enders I love end up with that slight oosz at the end. No matter, I really, really like Darius (& Dario!) and mourn the fact that I can’t use them. :thumbsup: Darius & family!

  8. I really like Darius, and the nn Dare is just cool! As soon as I heard this I thought of Darius Rucker.

  9. My current vehicle is named Daria Pyrropolis, so that’s all I think of when I hear Darius now, but I do like it. I always pronounced it DAR-ee-us [dar-ee-oosh for Dariusz is awesome too], though I often hear it as dar-EYE-us in religious settings, and DARE-ee-us in pop culture.

    1. My mother-in-law’s beloved older brother was Dariusz. We’d often thought about how we would use the name if we ever had a second son, but it never quite took shape for us. (Plus, Clio turned out to be Clio.) Since our last name starts with S, we immediately rejected any first name that ends with s.

      Too bad, though, as I do love Darius, and my mother-in-law would’ve been over the moon.

      Interesting about the religious pronunciation. Aly’s class is big on Tomie dePaola’s Bible stories, emphasis on Daniel and the lions. They’re not saying dar EYE us in his kindergarten, but that doesn’t mean much. If I’ve heard Darius in another religious context, I don’t recall.

      1. I grew up in a fairly “religious” context and I’ve always heard DARE-ee-us. Perhaps it depends on which religion or the specific culture?

        I like Darius, but not enough to use it personally.