Want to name your baby boy after an Earth goddess?

Thanks to Laney McDonald for suggesting Dimitri as Name of the Day.

There are plenty of names with multiple variant spellings, from the classic Katherine to the flock of Aidan spinoffs. Dimitri seems like a special challenge. In addition to the spelling used in this post title, there’s:

  • Demetri, as in comedian Demetri Martin, known for his Comedy Central series Important Things and Taking Woodstock, the latest Ang Lee flick;
  • Dmitri, as in Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich and Russian chemist and inventor of the periodic table Dmitri Mendeleev;
  • Dmitry and Dmitriy, two common spellings used for early Russian rulers;
  • You’ll also find Dmetrei, Dmitrii and other versions here and there.

That first Dmitry was not only a fourteenth century ruler, but is remembered as a saint, too. He was the first to challenge the Tatars in Moscow. After he defeated them in the 1380 Battle of Kulikovo, on the Don River, he became known as Dmitry Donskoy.

Princes aplenty have worn the name since, including Dmitry Pozharsky, who helped Russian overthrow a Polish-Lithuanian invasion and eventually ushered in the Romanov Dynasty. The entire period was known as the Time of Troubles – while a heroic Dmitry helped wrap things up, a number of pretenders to the throne wore the name, too.

With his multiple appearances throughout Russian history, Dmitry in all spellings leans Slavic. Today we’re less apt to think of princes and more likely to think ice hockey or Dmitry Medvedev, current president of Russia. It remains in heavy use.

And yet the name does hearken back to a Greek goddess – Demeter, part Mother Earth, part agricultural goddess. Demetrios would’ve been the original male version, Latinized as Demetrius. Several early saints wore those two names, and they also remain popular worldwide.

At first glance, none of the variants are doing well in the US. Dmitri last appeared in 2007, at a mere #995. Demetri hasn’t ranked for more than a decade. Feminine form Demetria is equally rare, despite the nickname potential of Demi. Demetrius ranked #520 last year – a respectable spelling, and the -us ending does evoke fashion-forward picks like Atticus.

Despite his spelling challenges, the pronunciation is straightforward – deh MEE tree. With boys called the French Andre and Italian Dante, Dimitri seems perfectly reasonable.

But that spelling! It almost invites creative (and not terribly sophisticated) approaches like D’Metri.

I’ll admit that I’m partial to Dmitri, but the best bet might be to stick with Demetri – and hope that the comedian’s career flourishes. As for whether this is wearable for a boy without Russian heritage? That’s harder to say, but given his roots in antiquity, it seems like this one might work – even if your last name is Murphy or D’Agostino.

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. Love Dmitri (just this spelling). I think it would be fine on someone without Russian roots, and spelling/pronunciation issues don’t bother me a bit. I’d love to use it as a first name, but unfortunately my favorite boy name is Dexter and I plan to avoid same letter names. It’s really sad, there are some amazing other D names (for boys) out there: Dillon, Damian, Desmond, Declan, Dean, Dominic… I do think I’d be proud to use it as a middle, though. Hmmm… Marcus Dmitri, Ezra Dmitri, Warren Dmitri… I’ll have to think on it. I definitely agree, it has some wonderful pizazz 😉

    1. And it really is great in the middle spot with the combos you’ve suggested, Heather! D is a great letter – so many good names.

  2. Quick here, long time no write!

    Dmitri, this spelling only has long languished in my personal favorites. A family name for me, Dmitri appeals for his strength, beauty & pizazz. What I can’t wrap my head around is Dimitri, why would anyone want DIM right at the beginning of their beloved boys name? And the possibility of random punctuation never occurred to me, as always, that sort of thing does not appeal. Dmitri doesn’t fit with the rest of the kids as well as say, Felix or Cosmo do but I still love Dmitri. Maybe for the next cat? 🙂

    I hope to be around more soon, a last ditch family vacation & with school starting on the 3rd, things have been mildly chaotic lately!

  3. I also know a 30-something Dimitri, but he’s French.

    Anyways cool name, but the spelling issues will always bother me.

  4. I agree — the name is super cool, but the spelling would be frustrating.

    I know a thirty-something with the name and he is very artistic, outdoorsy and hip so the name has great connotations for me. (He’s also not Russian or Slavic, but the name still works. His brother is Stephen so the two names sound good together.)

  5. On my OB’s brag wall, there was a (very cute) baby boy named D’Metrius. Hey, I live in Metro DC – it’s the land of Anything Goes. But it does make my head spin – especially as I find my simple, obvious name – Abby – spelled Abi, Abbey and Abbie more often than not.

    Dmitri is cool, but I’m not sure he’d be any less of a headache than Kayleigh or Cayden.

  6. I love Dimitri/Dmitri. Doesn’t work well with my last name, but it’s still near the top of my list.

    D’Metri is horrid. I just wanna scream at the parents for doing that to their kids. My favorite spelling is Dmitri. Love Dante and Andre too.

    Demetra and Demetria are great girls’ names.