Written in the Stars: 8 Constellation-Inspired Baby Names
Imagine someday sitting under the night sky with your child, pointing upward and saying "You were named after that one." With 88 constellations to choose from, anyone interested in celestial inspiration will certainly find a name that shoots for the moon
A southern constellation, Ara’s shape is supposed to evoke an altar used by Zeus and other Greek gods. The name, which can be given to girls or boys, also has a presence in Armenian literature through the legendary hero and king, “Ara the Beautiful.” College sports fans, meanwhile, may associate the name with Ara Parseghian, the winning coach of Northwestern’s and Notre Dame’s football teams. The name hasn’t been popular in the US since the turn of the 20th century, but with the increasing popularity of similar names such as Asa and Ari, it could be poised for a comeback.
It’s more than just a northern constellation: Aries, as any horoscope fan can tell you, is also a Zodiac sign and means “ram” in Latin. While you’ll find plenty of famous and nonfamous folks alike who—if they were born between March 21 and April 19—boast Aries as their sign, it’s rarely used as a first name. Comedian Aries Spears is among the few bearing the name today.
If you’d like your baby girl’s name to have a subtle, surprising link to the sea, consider Carina. While Italians use the word “carina” when describing something pretty or cute, its Latin meaning is keel. As a constellation, it was once part of a larger star group representing a legendary ship and, as a name, it’s been riding a wave of popularity since the 1970s and lends itself to shorter nicknames like Cari. Its popularity has been ebbing in recent years but if you choose Carina, you could help turn the tide.
Known for its “W” shape, the Cassiopeia constellation was named for one of the most famous queens in Greek mythology. It’s a rare name and one of the reasons why may be its mythical origins—Cassiopeia the queen was known for being arrogant about her beauty. On the plus side, the regal name does roll off the tongue and can easily be shortened to the cute nickname Cassie. If you give Cassiopeia a chance, just be sure to teach your lovely little one that there’s more to life than looks.
Looking for a constellation name with a musical connection? Try Lyra, a northern sky constellation that represents the U-shaped string instrument—the lyre—played by the Greek mythic hero Orpheus. Perhaps its musical roots are what inspired jazz singer and songwriter Jaime Cullum and his wife, author Sophie Dahl, to choose the uncommon name for their daughter in 2011. But whether you know your notes or not, you shouldn’t have much trouble spotting Lyra while stargazing. Its most prominent star, Vega, is also one of the brightest stars in the sky.
One of the most famous constellations in the sky, Orion was a legendary hunter in Greek mythology. Since the 1990s, the name has had its own claim to fame among American parents, who made it among the 500 most popular baby names in the US. Count actor Chris Noth as among the name’s fans—he named his son Orion in 2008.
Where better to find a mythical bird than in the sky? The southern constellation Phoenix represents the legendary winged one that rose from the ashes of its predecessor. In the US, the name—which can be shortened to nicknames such as “Nix” or “Nixie”—has soared high up the charts since the mid 1990s and has seen popularity abroad too, with British mom and former Spice Girl Melanie Brown naming her daughter Phoenix in 1999. Another famous Phoenix fan? Celebrity fitness guru Jillian Michaels, who welcomed a son named Phoenix in 2012.
Looking for another name with subtle, sea-faring ties? Try Vela, which is Latin for sail and, like Carina, used to be part of a larger ship constellation in the southern sky. The name hasn’t seen much use since the early 1900s, but for parents seeking a V-name alternative to the more popular Vanessa and Vivian, it makes sense to chart a course for Vela.
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