Silas is stylish. Oliver and Owen are Top 100 picks. How ’bout this ancient name?
Thanks to Roksalanna for suggesting Osiris as our Baby Name of the Day.
Osiris: Lord of the Afterlife
If Osiris reads a bit Goth, that’s no surprise.
In Egyptian mythology, he’s the god of the underworld, the equivalent of the Greek Hades or Roman Uranus – also names that haven’t really caught on for children.
With green skin and a tendency to wear mummy wrappings, the lord of the dead is a little bit Halloween costume in appearance.
And yet, Osiris isn’t a villain or a ghoul. He is a complex character, a figure that evolved over centuries of worship.
He was also entrusted with controlling the flooding of the Nile, an act that ensured good harvests and suggests the cycle of life and rebirth. As time passed, Osiris was also associated with not just the afterlife, but with forgiveness and eternal life. He is described as just and merciful.
Osiris: The Name
A handful of boys have been given the name over the years – and a few girls, too. As of 2013, there were 100 newborn boys called Osiris, which is a new high.
Like many an ancient name, Osiris was whispered down the alley from Egyptian to Greek to Latin. Part of the challenge? Hieroglyphics don’t indicate vowels. Among the many transliterations, I’ve seen Asar most often, though there are plenty of others, including Usire and Wesir.
Osiris’ meaning is equally elusive. A few suggestions include:
- Ritual/ritual activity
- Power, strength, or might
- To open
It’s all a bit of a mystery.
I assume that Osiris picked up his ‘s’ ending from Greek or maybe Latin. Wesley Snipes delved into Egyptology to name his kids. (He named one son Akhenaten, and has a daughter called Iset.) Snipes stuck with the simpler Asar for son Jelani’s middle name.
Osiris in the Night Sky
Osiris sounds a little bit like Orion, a name on the rise – and like Orion, both names are found in the night sky:
- Osiris is the name of a crater on the moon.
- There’s also an extra-solar planet by the name.
- NASA is planning a study of asteroids called OSIRIS-REx, with a mission set to launch in 2023. The launch vehicle is called Osiris. It’s target is an asteroid named Bennu, which is a phoenix-like bird from Egyptian mythology.
If parents are looking to the natural world and the heavens for naming inspiration, a successful NASA mission could potentially boost the name. After all, Gwen Stefani’s youngest is Apollo – another name from the pantheon associated with a famous space voyage.
Osiris: Wearable Rarity
There have been a handful of attempts to create a comic book character called Osiris, but he’s not terribly famous. (And even if he were, I’m not sure that’s a bad thing anymore.)
Stargate SG-1 brought Osiris to life when a pretty blonde archaeologist named Sarah disturbed his resting place. Doubtless this explains the small spike in girls named Osiris from the late 1990s through the early 2000s.
American parents are slowly discovering Osiris, and I think he counts as a wearable rarity in 2014. His ‘s’ ending is on-trend, from Atticus to Silas. That bright ‘O’ sound puts him in good company, too. And we’ve been borrowing baby name inspiration from lots of ancient cultures. Why not Egypt?
If you’re after a truly unusual choice from the ancient world, Osiris is rich with possibility.