40 Greek Baby Names you didn’t know were Greek
Greek baby names can be found everywhere, in names that you wouldn’t possible imagine. Have you watched the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”? Do you remember the father of the bride trying to explain that every single word comes from the Greek language? Well, this might be a bit exagurating, but it’s true that a lot of everyday words have roots in ancient Greece.
Hold on, this is not going to be history 101.
We are just going to “expose” 40 popular Greek baby names that you have heard many times before but you didn’t know were Greek! Celebrities and parents-next-door alike give the following names to their baby boys and girls without realising the name origin.
Greek Baby Names
Alex: the defender of the people, derived from Alexander the Great, the Greek leader who marched against the Persians and conquered a huge amount of land (from Italy all the way to India). Alexis is known as one of the top unisex baby names mainly because of the TV character Alexis Carrington played by Joan Collins on the famous soap opera “Dynasty”.
Andrew: Derived from the Greek andreios (manly). The name is borne by one of the apostles. He was a fisherman, a brother of Simon Peter, a disciple of John the Baptist, and the first disciple of Jesus.
Barbara: the feminine form of the word barbaros which in Greek means foreigner. It was later associated with barbaric tribes.
Chris: derived from the Greek word χριω (chrio) which means “to anoint”. Jesus Christ also got the name Christos, which has the same origin, by early Greek-speaking Christians.
Damian: a Greek baby name that means to subdue, to tame. It’s also close to the Greek word “daimon” which meant spirit, though later associated with the Devil. Famous actor Matt Daymon’s surname also has the same origin.
Diana: the Greek Goddess of Artemis lent her name to the Roman equivalent Diana as the protector of hunting and giving birth. Links with the royal name of Princess Diana, whose tragic death in a car accident in Paris shocked the world.
Dido: we can see you scratching your head, trying to figure out if you are really looking at the Greek Baby names list. Yep, it’s true, you are not reading a celebrity baby name generator that found Dido as the next hot baby name (it was actually very popular in the early 00’s when Eminem released “Stan” featuring Dido). According to old historic sources, Dido was the founder and first Queen of Carthage, a city located in modern-day Tunisia. Some historians also reference the name Elissa as the same person.
Dorothy: comes from one of the most popular Greek baby names in the ancient times, Dorothea. It means presents from the Godess.
Drake: no, you are not reading the baby names list inspired by famous rappers, so we are talking about the Canadian rapper Drake here! Drake, apart from being the male duck, comes from the Greek word drakontas, which means dragon.
Ellen: the daughter of Zeus, Helen, was famous for her beauty. Think of her as “Miss Universe” of her time. The abduction of Helen started the Trojan War between the Greeks and the people of Troy, as described in Iliada, the epic poem of Homer.
Eugene: one of the Greek baby names that is commonly mistaken for Russian, mainly because the most famous people named Eugine were Russians. The meaning of this noble baby name is well-born and comes from the early Greek name “Eugenios”.
Gregory: dimunative form of Gregoris (Gregory), which in Greek means the person who is fast.
Halo: the radiating aura of light, usually on top of the head of a holy person. It comes from the Greek word “alos”. Halo is the most commercially successful video game of all times, bringing in more than $2 billion revenue in sales. Apart from that, it’s also a really touchy and emotional song by R&B diva Beyonce.
Hermione: derived from Hermes, the God of merchandice and the messanger between the Olympian Gods and people. According to Greek mythology, Hermione was the daughter of Helen (see above) and Menelaus. The name became super popular after Harry Potter box office sensation hit the theaters. Hermione was a J. K. Rowling character that met Harry Potter at Hogwarts and was the smartess girl in her class.
Hilary: wait, what? Is this Greek? Yes it is! You probably know Hilary Clinton, the presidential candidate that lost the battle from Obama, and former First Lady of the United States of America. But did you know that Hilary comes from the word hilaos which means gracious?
Hypatia: the fist woman Mathematician and philosopher who lived in Alexandria and became head of the Platonist school. She excelled in astronomy and encouraged logic. Hypathia found tragic death from an angry Christian mob. Her story is best described in the movie Agora (2009).
Irene: means peace in Greek. Eirene or simply Irene was one of the Horae. She was often depicted as a very beautiful lady and was said to be one of tha many daughters of Zeus (well, the God of Gods was a naughty God indeed!)
Iris: it might sound Egyptian (perhaps because it sounds like Isis, the Egyptian God) but it’s actually Greek and its meaning is rainbow!
Ismene: from the Greek word isme which means knowledge. The Greek mythology describes Ismene the daughter of Oedipus, the king of Thebes and tragic hero who killed his father because he was in love with his mother (thus the Oedipal Complex).
Lotus: apart from being a British sports car, Lotus derives from the Greek word lotos. This Greek baby name is especially popular in the Netherlands.
Lydia: one of the coolest vintage Greek baby names that comes from a region on the west coast of Asia Minor. Saint Paul famously converted a woman called Lydia as described in the New Testament.
Melaney: a baby name of Greek origin that means black or dark. The name was brought into mainstream after Melanie Griffith turned into a major Hollywood star. Another movie superstar, Mel Gibson, has roots to this Greek name. Who would have thought!
Melissa: a name best suited for sweet baby girls, as it translates to honey in Greek.
Ophelia: Shakespeare loved Greek baby names and he used Ophelia as a character in Hamlet. Derived from Greek word ophelos which meaning help.
Paris: OK, you might think we have gone too far. How on earth can this be Greek? It’s CLEARLY French. Well, sorry to break out the news for you, but the French capital has its origin in the Greek mythology. Paris was the son of Priam and prince of Troy. Oh and one more thing. He was responsible that Trojan War started, because he choose the wrong woman!
Phaedra: one of our favorites Greek baby names that come from the word phaidros, which means bright. According to mythology, Phaedra married the Greek hero Theseus, but fell in love with Hippolytus. The tragedy of this story is that Phaedra lied to Theseus that Hippolytus had raped her. Her husband blurred and killed his bastard son. Phaedra then killed herself out of guilt. Oh my god, these Greek tragedies do scare me sometimes!
Philemon: or just Phil, both are Greek baby names that mean loving. Philemon was known as an important early Christian who received a private letter from St. Paul. Thus we have Epistle to Philemon in the New Testament.
Sebastian: among the most popular Greek baby names, Sebastian derives from “sebastos” which means venerable in Greek. It comes from the word “sebas” which means awe. Sebastian Vettel is the German F1 driver who is the current world champion, winning three years in a row (2010, 2011 and 2012) driving for Red Bull Racing team.
Sirius: known as the brightest star of the sky, Sirius actually means “glowing” or “scorcher” in Greek.
Stephan: derived from the Greek word stephano, which is the crown of kings or athletes who did well in sports
Steve: another form of Stephan, Steven or Steve is a popular baby name around the world. If you own an iPhone or an iPad, it’s because of the creative genius and founder of Apple, Steve Jobs.
Thelma: Ridley Scott’s 1991 movie Thelma & Louise introduced this Greek baby name into the wide public. The adventure of two women who went on a run after one of them shooting her rapist, was a huge box-office hit and helped this Greek baby name to become very popular among parents in early 90’s.
Tim: diminutive of Timotheos, the famous Greek sculpture who lived in Epidaurus circa 340 BC. Timotheos comes from two words, Timo (I am honoring) and Theos (God), so the name itself means the person who honors God, or in other words, in God’s honor
Theo: diminutive of Theodoros, which means Gift of God in Greek.
Theresa: one of the most uncommon Greek baby names that is best known from Mother Theresa. The famous Albanian born Catholic sister, served her entire life near the poorest of the poor. She was a fine example of selfishness and devotion to common good. The name itself means to harvest in Greek.
Thomas: or just Tom, they are both Greek baby names that come from the biblical Greek Θωμάς. Tommy (Hilfiger) is just another form of Thomas.
Veronica: derives from the Greek name Berenice, Βερενίκη. It means the person who bring victory. Not to be mistaken with the Latin word Vera (true) and Greek eikon (image). Veronica Roth is a well known American author and Veronica Mars is a TV series aired between 2004 and 2007 starring Kristen Bell and Percy Daggs.
We hope that this post shed some light on the true origin of some well-known baby names! Please feel free to share any other names you might know have Greek origin. Opa!