She’s a single-syllable name borrowed from mythology, with a definite edge.
Thanks to Amanda for suggesting Nyx as our Baby Name of the Day.
In Greek mythology, Nyx – night – is the child of Chaos, though Chaos is more of a state than a person. Chaos literally means abyss, emptiness. (We’d layer on the meaning of confusion centuries later.)
Chaos also gives rise to Erebus – shadows. Sometimes with Erebus, and more often without, Nyx is the mother of day, sleep, death, dreams, prudence, doom, strife, friendship, deception, the Fates, and occasionally the Hesperides, among others.
Most of these figures are, like Nyx herself, minor deities and rarely seen. When she is pictured, Nyx is usually a dark-haired stunner, a lovely woman.
(Incidentally, the image above is borrowed from a tenth century illuminated manuscript, created during a high point in Byzantine arts and culture. It fascinates me because the gods of antiquity are pictured with Christian saints. In this case, Nyx stands with the prophet Isaiah.)
Nyx is also a poetic word for night itself. The modern world has borrowed her for any number of uses, most with a dark and shadowy vibe. She appears as a cornerstone of vampire religion in the House of Night series – young adult novels about a boarding school for bloodsuckers.
There’s also a comic book character, a sidekick of Spawn, known as Nyx – though her birth name was Carrie Ann.
While they’re not related, there are also water sprites in Germanic folklore called nixies, nix, or nixe. With Lorelei attracting so much attention, can other mermaid names make waves? Figures from myth and folklore have been a great well of inspiration for modern parents, especially those seeking to find names that are little worn but aren’t invented.
But Nyx has another strength – her sound.
- She’s close to Nicole – a mom name these days. Add in Nicholas and all of their various variant forms, and Nyx could be an offbeat way to honor a loved one.
- It is tempting to think of Nicks – as in American singer Stevie and English shopping staple Harvey. Both associations have some appeal.
- Other short ends-in-x names, like the Jolie-Pitt’s Pax and Knox, are quite stylish. While they tend to be masculine, that’s not exclusively true. Lux – of The Virgin Suicides and Life Unexpected – has been worn by girls.
As for her meaning, while she leans a bit Goth in pop culture, the same could be said of many names that mean night – think of Layla – and that hasn’t necessarily hurt them. Add in names that refer to the night sky, whether they are stars, moons or constellations, and suddenly the list is chock full of fashionable choices.
Nyx is also a mountain on Venus, an asteroid, and a moon of Pluto, though the last one is spelled Nix. All three honor the original Greek goddess.
This would be a daring choice for a daughter. Still she’s not so different from the familiar Nicole, and she’s short and easy to spell – both qualities that temper her extreme qualities. And, of course, Nicky is an incognito nickname possibility. In the middle spot, she’d be a real find.