Greek goddess baby names are enjoying a moment.
These ancient favorites burn white hot in the twenty-first century. We’ve embraced choices like Athena, undeniably Greek and mythological but still easily spelled and pronounced. Others seem less accessible, like the stunning – but complicated – Cassiopeia. And yet, some of these less accessible options are gaining in use, too.
Of course, Greek myth comes chock full of tragedy and bad behavior. A few of these names belong to villains. Others are victims, their lives not suited for bedtime stories.
But with Penelope topping popularity charts, and Athena not far behind, Greek goddess baby names seem rich with potential.
Before we go any further, let’s clear one thing up. No, Penelope is not a goddess. She’s clever and brave, but she’s also a mere mortal.
Several other choices on this list don’t quite belong, either.
But in terms of general style, sound, and appeal, they all sound like Greek goddess baby names.
Every name on this list claims Greek roots, and most of them appear in legend and myth, too.
Alcyone’s story begins with tragedy. She falls in love, but her husband is killed in a shipwreck. The gods take pity, turning the lovers into kingfishers, allowing them to live together as birds. There’s a second Alcyone, of one seven daughters born to Atlas and Pleione. They’re known as the Pleiades – the seven stars in the constellation. Alcyone shines brightest.
Perseus rescued Andromeda, a story familiar thanks to Clash of the Titans. If girls answer to four-syllable Isabella and star-gazing Stella, why not Andromeda?
Antheia comes from the Greek word for flower – anthos. Sometimes Antheia is listed as a goddess of flowers. In other cases, the goddess Hera is referred to as Anthea. The Romans spelled her name Anthea, which might be even more appealing, given the rise of sparky mini name Thea.
In myth, the idealistic, rebellious Antigone met with a tragic fate. But her name has an appealing weight to it, somewhere between Penelope and Alexandra.
The gorgeous, oft-painted goddess of love and beauty might feel like a lot to live up to. Then again, Venus Williams wears the Roman equivalent of this goddess name effortlessly.
Top 100 favorites Ariana and Arianna come from the Ariadne. In Greek myth, she’s the clever girl who helps Theseus defeat the Minotaur. In 2010, Ellen Page played Ariadne in Inception. For a few short years, all of this attention pushed Ariadne into the US Top 1000. But it’s yet to rival Penelope or Athena.
The goddess of the moon and the hunt, Artemis feels instantly familiar. But it’s also quite rare in the US. Her Roman counterpart, Diana, has achieved near-classic status, but Artemis remains distinctive and different.
Astraea started out as a goddess of justice, but, dismayed by the wickedness of man, retreated to the heavens as the constellation Virgo. Legend tells that she’ll return eventually, ushering in a new Golden Age.
The name means “equal in weight; balanced” and that’s exactly what Atalanta sought. She refused to marry until a suitor could best her in a foot race. Aphrodite helped Hippomenes cheat, and the pair married. But then they angered the gods, and they spent the rest of their happily-ever-after as a pair of lions.
Greek goddess baby names are led by Athena. That’s no surprise. Athena was born leading, a goddess of wisdom and war who sprang fully formed from her father’s head. (There’s a whole story there.)
Calanthe fits with Greek goddess baby names, except it’s actually not. Sometimes elaborated as Calanthia, it’s the name of an orchid. Still, this unusual choice could be on the upswing. After all, we do we love an unusual botanical name. And there’s a character in The Witcher called Calanthe, the book series now adapted for Netflix.
It doesn’t seem fair, but Odysseus outlives Penelope. He marries again, making Callidice a queen. The name comes from the word for beauty, combined with justice. The prononciation is kah LID eh see, though this one does seem a little challenging.
One of the nine muses, the goddesses in charge of all things creative, Calliope inspired epic poetry. In the 1850s, Joshua Stoddard patented a steam-powered musical instrument, the sound of steamboats and carousels. (You can hear a snippet here.) They were loud, and maybe once Calliope seemed like a synonym for noisy. But today? It reads a little nostalgic, rather musical, and very much a goddess name and potential successor to Penelope.
Odysseus washed ashore, shipwrecked, only to find himself enchanted by the nymph Calypso. Her machinations kept him on the island for seven years, until Zeus himself intervened. The name means something like “she who conceals,” which seems about right. Today, Calypso suggests the islands, but in a different way. The name also refers to a type of Afro-Caribbean music. While the name’s origins are unclear, it’s not related to the nymph.
Odysseus also ran into Circe on his epic journey. She’s the sorceress who turned his ship’s crew into pigs. Maybe that’s not auspicious, but the name has an intriguing sound, and a fierce meaning: hawk.
We tend to think of Cleo – as in Cleopatra – as the famous bearer of the name. But Clio was the muse of history, making this not just an empress, but a goddess name, too. Regardless of spelling, the name means “to proclaim.” If you’re more drawn to the ‘e’ ending of Penelope and company, there’s also Cleophee, a French spin on the New Testament name Cleophas.
The original Clytie was an ocean nymph who loved the sun god. She’d followed him across the sky all day, until she turned into a heliotrope flower. Modern pronunciations rhyme Clytie with mighty, but it’s also spelled Klytië, suggesting that the ‘e’ isn’t silent.
Pronounced SIB eh lee, the name belongs to an older fertility goddess imported to ancient Greece. If Sybil hasn’t caught on, maybe Cybele is a long-shot, but it fits the style nicely.
Cast off to sea in a wooden chest with her son Perseus in order to thwart a prophecy, Danae and her child lived. The name is often pronounced da NAY in American English, a sort of play on Danielle combined with Renee/Renae. But it’s spelled Danaē, suggesting that it should be more like da nah EE.
Apollo fell for the nymph Daphne, and pursued her. The goods took pity, turning her into a laurel tree to avoid his advances. It’s one of the Greek goddess baby names with more history of use, and it feels sprightly and vintage, a sparky choice for a daughter.
The harvest goddess, her name inspired Demetria and Demetrius. But straight-up Demeter fits in quite well with Harper and company.
Another nymph, Echo could only repeat what others said. She fell in love, but couldn’t express, and pined away until there was nothing but her lingering voice. It’s an unusual story to inspire a child’s name, but the sound of Echo feels very on-trend.
We know that Irene means peace, but that’s thanks to an ancient goddess. Eirene is closer to the original form of the name.
Another of the Pleiades answered to this name, as well as a princess who avenges her father’s death.
In Greek myth, time is controlled by the Hours – the goddesses of seasons and times. She represented afternoon prayer.
One of the most wearable on this list, Evadne might be a formal name for Evie. It belongs to at least four separate figures in myth, including a daughter of Poseidon.
A primordial Earth goddess, Gaia was one of the Titans – the original Greek gods. Her name fits in perfectly with Maya and company. Pronounce it with a hard G, like gauge, guy, and game.
Even by Greek goddess standards, Hecate is a little dark. Likely a foreign goddess imported to Greece, Hecate was in charge of witchcraft.
Queen of the Greek gods, jealous Hera spent much too much time pursuing her unfaithful husband – usually by taking it out on his (rarely willing) lovers. It’s easy to dismiss her as vengeful, but there’s much more to this character. She’s in charge of marriage and childbirth, and she’s probably the only person that her husband, Zeus, actually fears.
The Harry Potter heroine sounds right at home in our Penelope era. And while there’s no goddess named Hermione, the name references the messenger of the gods: Hermes.
Hestia reigns over all things domestic – think home and hearth. As Greek goddesses go, it’s easy to overlook her role. But it’s an appealing, feminine name with lots of strength.
Ianthe was worn by an ocean nymph, but her name is at home on land. It comes from the Greek for violet flower – ion plus anthos.
Two letters and two syllables, Io belongs to a princess beloved by Zeus – and tormented by Hera.
We think of Iris as a straight-up flower name, but it’s much more. Iris served as a messenger goddess, her name derived from her means of delivering telegram: rainbow.
The daughter of Oedipus and Jocasta, Ismene means knowledge.
Zeus donned a swan suit to seduce Leda, a princess who would eventually bear four of the god’s children. One of their children? Helen, she of the face that launched a thousand ships in the Trojan War.
In Greek myth, one of the Furies was named Megaera. But many modern parents know this name as Megara, or Meg, from the Disney version of Hercules.
The eldest of the Pleiades and mother to the messenger god Hermes, Maia’s name is nicely international and widely used. Spell it Maya, and it’s the name of a Hindu goddess, too.
The goddess of victory could be a great name for a girl, an alternative to Nicole – if not for the sneaker. Don’t do it!
Another Nicole-adjacent name, Nyx literally means night. She’s the daughter of Khaos.
The obvious alternative to Penelope. As the wife of Hades, she reigns as goddess of the underworld. But we mostly associate Persephone with the seasons. When she returns to earth to visit her mother, Persephone brings spring. And when she goes home to her husband, autumn and winter follow.
Friends and Charmed and Phoebe Cates put this name on our radar. A Titan associated with the moon, Phoebe later became a title for her moon goddess granddaughter, Artemis.
Another Titan, Rhea was the mother of Zeus – as well as Poseidon, Hades, Hera, Demeter, and Hestia. But when it comes to mythology, we know Rhea better as the mother Romulus and Remus, the brothers who went on to found Rome.
Another Greek moon goddess, Selene would be pronounced with three syllables, more like Selena. But today we tend to rhyme it with marine, serene, and supreme.
The name of one of the three Graces, as well as one of the nine Muses. Pronunciations abound, perhaps explaining why this appealing possibility remains relatively uncommon.
Before there was Romeo and Juliet, there was Pyramus and Thisbe. While the famous Thisbe is a mere mortal, another Thisbe was a nymph associated with a spring. An ancient city named in her honor was located in Greece.
It sounds like Zanthe, but the name is spelled with an X. In Greek myth, Xanthe is an ocean nymph. There are a few others who share the name.
Would you consider any of these Greek goddess baby names? What would you add to the list?
First published May 10, 2013, this post was revised and re-published on August 13, 2020.
Lisa Rainy says
I have always loved Amalthea.
Angela Sinno says
Derived from Greek Μυροφόροι (Myrophóroi) meaning “Myrrhbearers”, which in Eastern Orthodox Christianity is a term that refers to the women with myrrh who came to the tomb of Christ early in the morning, only to find it empty. The term is ultimately derived from Greek μυρον (myron) meaning “myrrh” (also see Myron) and Greek φορεύς (phoreus) meaning “bearer, carrier”.
I love Ariadne (plus it’s DH’s favourite name – bingo!), and also Calliope, Circe, Hecate, Hermione, Ianthe, Ione, Ismene, Thisbe and Xanthe. Great list!
I love this list! I’ve wanted to name a daughter Antigone for a long time. It’s my favorite of the ancient Greek plays I’ve read, and Antigone was an extremely principled and brave (albeit tragic) figure. I think “Tig” would be a cute nickname, but she could also go by “Ann” or some other variation. BUT I’d be concerned that people would pronounce it like “anti-gawn”. Hmm.
I know three pets named from this list (Daphne and Nike the dogs, and Calliope “Opie” the cat), so if that’s any indicator of names we love but aren’t quite ready to use for children, then these names should be getting more popular in the future. Ariadne and Phoebe are two of my favorite girls’ names–Ariadne is so regal and Phoebe is so upbeat. Love them!
I really like lots of these – how useable they are ‘in real life’ is a tricky one though! My cats are Persephone and Antigone… I also have a three syllable surname than ends in y! Very difficult to make them work with it.
I am surprised you missed Selene (SEL-uh-nee) which I would have thought is one of the more wearable names, and more up-to-date than Selena, which I assume is its modern equivalent. Merope is also a nice easy one, although JK Rowling used it as the name of Voldemort’s mother, which may be offputting for some for a variety of reasons! Thalia is relatively popular in the UK (TAR-lee-a though, not Thay-lee-a).
I’ve also had a sneaky desire to name a child Oenone, just because it would be fun to watch people try and figure out how to pronounce it… Perhaps a bit harsh on the child though!
Oenone would be a tongue-twister!
I think Selene would inevitably be pronounced seh LEEN in the US, as in Celine Dion. But you’re right, she’s more wearable.
My eye landed on Merope more than once, but I can’t separate her from Voldemort’s mom. I’m not sure if that’s really a deal-breaker, but I decided to take her off the list anyhow.
One Greek name that I really like is Eurydice.
In last weeks BAs I saw a Nausicaa. It’s not one I’d have the guts to use in English-speaking country, but it’s pretty when it’s pronounced correctly. (now-see-KAY-uh)
Danae, Ianthe and Evadne are all names I’d use in an instant. Some others I love: Atalanta, Halcyone, Niobe
There’s a Phaedra on one of the Housewives shows. I don’t watch it, so I don’t know what kind of person she is… but I wonder if Phaedra could become the next Phoebe? The mythological figure is tragic, but that hasn’t stopped some people from using Juliet, Cordelia or Ophelia.
I am in love with so many of these! My #1 choice right now is Daphne. Swoon! Penelope is great. Ariadne, Evadne, Calliope, Hermione, Persephone, Phoebe and Thisbe are all ones I’ve considered. I would love one of these to be a sister to Atlas 🙂
I forgot to mention that I noticed Daphne, Penelope, Phoebe and Zoe all rose in 2012, which makes me think we may see some of the more obscure ones enter the top 1000 eventually.
I love so many of these — Antigone, Persephone, Callanthe, Ariadne, and Thisbe. I would totally use one for baby #4 if they matched my other kids’ names at all!
My mother is friends with a lady named Aphrodite. I was really surprised when I first heard it but I have to admit it feels pretty normal now. Funny enough, my mom also knows a woman named Anubis! It’s really amusing to me when she says she’s grabbing lunch with Aphrodite and Anubis 😛 Even funnier when there’s a third woman going with an incredibly normal 1960’s name: “Aphrodite, Anubis and Cheryl are meeting me at Chili’s”.
You, madam, made me spit water out of my mouth. And Anubis is a great name!!!
I had to giggle at this as well. But I have an entire family full of unusual names. So it is incredible easy for them to sound perfectly natural to me but to others it feels and seems out of place.
I’m actually quite surprised by the rise of Penelope- I find its sound rather ridiculous, like a caricature you’d find in Roald Dahl (Augustus and Penelope Gloop sound like siblings.) Most of the names on this list seem a lot more wearable to me.
Oh gosh, we looked at a ton of names from Greek mythology in our search for a name for our daughter. My own name comes from a Greek myth and I thought it would be cool if my daughter’s did, too. But ultimately we never found one that we totally fell in love with. I do really like Xanthe, Calanthe, and Iolanthe, but my husband didn’t, and I didn’t love them enough to really push for any of the three.
I love how Antigone sounds, but obviously because of spelling alone, I could never give that to a child. Maybe a pet.
Eirene sounds a bit like “irony” though..?
It would be pronounced Eye-reen-ee, not even close to Irony.
I adore so many. Penelope herself, then Xanthe, Ione, Calanthe, Ariadne, Arachne… and my grandmother being an Irene makes Eirene appealing.
But the catch… am I kidding myself to think ANY are workable, if my last name is three syllables and ends in -y? 3-3 rhythim is not particularly appetizing, but what about 2-3 or 4-3?
I am obsessed with the name Nike, especially after seeing Winged Victory of Samothrace at the Louvre as a teen. I would use it as a middle name in a heartbeat.