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First names have always had a special meaning. They individualize their bearers and convey the wishes or expectations that parents give their child in its (life’s) way. Latin names in particular often have a particularly profound meaning.
What they say and what dangers they can hold, we reveal to you here.
Latin Names: Old And Always New
Fashion comes and goes – and eventually returns. This is no different in the clothing sector than in the furniture industry or in the so-called lifestyle. Just think of the return of baggy pants, the revival of the kidney table, or the revival of gin: all products have been around before, disappeared for a while, and then made a remarkable comeback.
The tendency to give children Latin names is also not new. It flared up in many eras and lasted for varying lengths of time. In most cases, it was based on a return to ancient values or skills. At least, this was the case during the Renaissance or the Baroque, when Greek and Roman’s names were booming.
But even outside these peak periods, there were always parents who drew inspiration from history. Probably the most prominent example of this is an Austrian couple.
At the baptism of their youngest son, they gave only Latin names. The boy was recorded as Joannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus in the church register of the city of Salzburg.
His older sister shortened the complicated collection to Wolferl; the little one himself changed his baby names in adulthood and preferred to sign official documents as Wolfgang Amadé.
You have surely long since recognized which famous person we are talking about: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – the musical genius whose oeuvre is still on everyone’s lips or ears. Presumably he would have achieved this impressive feat also as Robert, Friedrich or August, but his parents had given him a very special task in life by choosing his first names.
Names As Signposts For Life
Scientists have discovered that very special ideas are attached to certain names. Newly developed technologies and high-quality equipment or expensive racehorses and breeding bulls sell better if they have elite-sounding names – because they arouse high expectations of quality or performance.
A similar effect can be observed in the naming of children. Their first names determine how they are perceived by society and how their personalities are assessed.
The branch of research that deals with this is called onomastics – the study of names. According to this, Bernadette, Maximilian or Severus have better chances at job interviews than Chantal, Kevin or Sebastian. Have you ever heard about the so-called Chantalism?
It’s not very fair, but it’s a fact. What you call your little one can have a big influence on his development and his path in life. But whether you give him an old, a modern, or a foreign language first name is secondary.
It is much more important what associations it awakens in others. Everybody has an image in mind when hearing a name, which is more or less true and more or less congruent.
Latin Names As A Stumbling Block
The marketing experts at VW also had to make this experience. When naming a passenger car, they were guided by history and chose the name Phaeton. This was the name of earlier motor vehicles and even earlier carriages.
Originally, however, it was a name from Greek and Roman mythology – and the myths about Phaeton are not exactly heroic. As the son of the sun god, he obtained permission from his father to drive the celestial chariot.
The boy completely underestimated the challenge involved. After only a few minutes, the draught animals ran away and set everything on fire with the fiery chariot. Zeus, the father of the gods, saved the situation by letting the carriage and its driver fall into the sea.
That alone was ignominious enough; but even afterwards Phaeton received receipts for his wantonness: The Romans – who adopted numerous ancient Greek gods into their culture and gave them new Latin names – simply excluded the inglorious son.
He does not appear in their heroic epics. And even outside the world of legends, Phaeton became a synonym for bad decisions: The car named after him sold extremely poorly, earning VW similar ridicule as the fallen hero.
Latin Names: Take Your Time When Deciding
To make sure your little one is better off with his or her first names, you should research their origin or meaning well. This also includes a rough look at the lives of famous name godfathers. Many a famous hero has a dark spot in his vita because he committed criminal acts in addition to glorious deeds.
The same applies to famous legendary figures of antiquity. Greek and Roman’s names are often based on mythological tales. But the (half-) gods of the two advanced civilizations had some weaknesses – which made them more human on the one hand, but on the other hand also somewhat ambivalent.
In order to save you the trouble of detailed research, we have done a little research and checked numerous Latin names or the names of Greek-Roman heroes for their suitability as baby names.
Not So Unusual: Well-known Latin Names
A true classic and primarily known for the Roman emperor. Although it has since been disproved, Caesar is still considered the first cut birth and means something like cut from the womb.
Both female given names are derived from the ancient Roman surname Caecilius, which is of ancient Greek origin. It means something like to worship blindly.
Both the female and the male variant are based on the word cornu/horn. The names became known through Pope Cornelius, who officiated from 251 to 253.
If you spell this first name correctly, it is Aemilia – and is the feminine form of Aemilius, a common family name in the Roman Empire.
This well-known name also originally referred to an entire family, whose most famous representative was Rome’s emperor for a time.
The name of a 3rd/4th century Roman emperor is common throughout the European language area. Its feminine form is Constantina.
It belongs to the Greek first names; but was also common in ancient Rome – and means nothing else than woman from Lydia.
The origin of this quite common name is unclear. Possibly it comes from one of the three original Roman tribes.
More Unusual Latin Names
In the movie Inception, the clever Ariadne guides the dream-manipulated hero through different time and image levels. This unites her with her “legendary” role model: the ancient king’s daughter Ariadne also guided her groom through a confusing labyrinth with cunning. Not the worst choice for a little girl.
Most people think of Caesar’s confidant; but in fact, Brutus is an epithet that many Romans bore. It means “heavy” and can be understood in the sense of weight or importance.
A child so named is from the city of Florence. The name is based on the Italian place name Firenze which has also become popular as a name.
From a poor fisherman to a mighty sea-god: Glaucus has made an impressive career. If you want to predict great things for your son, this Greek or Roman spelled name is right for him.
This epithet was given to many followers of Jesus because it means watchfully awaiting the return. With the strengthening of the Christian religion, Gregorius became one of the most popular pope names. So far, 16 church leaders have borne it.
Emperor Hadrian established this first name in history. It goes back to the place of origin of his parents, today’s Atri in the Italian province of Teramo.
This name has also become famous because of the office of the Pope. In all the variants mentioned, it means innocent.
This male given name was borrowed by the Romans from the city of Gaeta – itself named after Caieta, the nurse of the mythological navigator Aeneas.
Latin names also live up to their reputation with this example: Laetitia is the goddess of causeless joy and cheerfulness – as it is especially characteristic of children.
Originally this name meant a woman from Laurentium; later the meaning changed to laurel-wreathed. For a boy, you can change the honorific gesture to Laurentius.
This name was very common in ancient Rome. It denotes a boy born in the fifth month or the fifth child in a family. Does it fit your situation?
Be Careful With These Latin Names
With this you name your little son after the food of the gods, ambrosia, which gives immortality to all eaters. In this country, the word refers to a herbaceous plant that can cause severe allergic reactions.
The two-faced Ianus was considered by the Romans to be the patron god of doors and gates because he could look in different directions at the same time. Our culture attaches something negative to this trait and could quickly label a child with this name as the wrong person.
This tragic mythical figure is not at all suitable as a model for Roman names: After she supported the hero Iason to the best of her ability and bore him two boys, he left her in a cloak-and-dagger action. Out of grief and revenge, Medea became a multiple murderess.
This is a short form of Lucianus, a very popular Roman given name. Since there is a certain similarity to the word Lucifer, your choice could be misinterpreted.
Springlike and fresh like a daffodil? Unfortunately, these names do not suggest that. In mythology, Narcissus was a self-absorbed youth who drowned when he tried to kiss his own reflection.
Psychologists named after him a severe personality disorder with excessive ego-centeredness, false self-image and exploitative-manipulative behavior.
Both are Latin names for the Greek saga hero Odysseus, who returned home only after decades of wandering. Apart from the fact that he was not particularly faithful on his travels, his name does not mean anything good – namely, hate.
Latin Names – Divinely Inspired
Amor Or Eros
In Spain and Italy, both first names are still very popular today. But the winged love-giver also has a dark side: the unbridled, selfish desire – which is worth any price to him to satisfy.
Aphrodite or Venus
She is the most beautiful of the ancient goddesses and has the gift of awakening love in people. But if she feels that she is not paid enough attention to, her revenge can be terrible.
Athena Or Minerva
The patroness of the Greek capital is a wise woman who masters the craft of war like no other. Her wisdom and tactics are mirrored in Professor McGonagall from the Harry Potter series. She also bears the first name Minerva. How do you like it for your daughter?
Hera And Juno Respectively
Both names are now so common that they are hardly associated with their role model. But Hera has a high position in the family of gods. She is the wife of Zeus and the mother of numerous children of the gods. Since her husband cheats on her often and publicly, she is furiously jealous.
You may know his name from the Matrix trilogy; but definitely as a figurative paraphrase: “resting in Morpheus’ arms” means something like blissful / good sleep. Very seminal for your son.
Dionysus Resp. Bacchus
In the Mediterranean area these two male first names are amazingly widespread. In this country, at most the Greek variant still passes, because the Roman Bacchus is notorious for his drunkenness. As the god of wine, however, he is also responsible for the cultivation, care, and harvesting of the vines – for which he needs experience and expertise.
Since the award-winning parable Pan’s Labyrinth, a modern classic among baby names. In the mythological context, Pan is a god as funny as he is lustful, walking through life on buck legs. The perfect name for sons who are allowed to have a mind of their own and are expected to assert it even in the face of opposition.
Double Is Better: Roman Names For Twins
Even the term itself is Latin: the word twin means something like occurring twice or something of which there is a second”. The fact that more than one child grows in the womb has always fascinated people. In ancient times, twins were considered to be begotten by God. Our suggestions for Latin names of a couple are:
- Romolus & Remus – the founders of the city of Rome.
- Castor Pollux – two battle-hardened sailors, but fathered by different fathers.
- Apollo & Diana – divine twins who were devoted to the arts and hunting, respectively.
When All Good Things Come In Threes: Latin Names For Triplets
You can also find role models for a triple in mythology: With the unusual first names Klotho, Lachesis and Atropos you honor the three sisters who spin, measure and cut the thread of life.
Simple Can Be This Beautiful: Our Top Five Latin Baby Names
We had a lot of fun working on your selection. We liked some of the derivations particularly well; others not so much. Finally, we present the following Latin names as favorites of the Parents’ Compass editorial team.
If your son will have curls, this is one of the best names for him – because it means curly-haired.
This commonly chosen addition to Roman surnames translates very loosely to blond. For an expectedly fair-headed person, it’s just perfect!
These Latin name variations are derived from the word Gaudium, which means joy. By choosing Gaius, you are indicating how excited you are about the arrival of your baby boy.
This Latin variant of the name of the Roman god of war Mars – which simply stands for the word male – seems surprisingly simple.
This is the first name of the Roman goddess of birth. It stands for the number 9 and is supposed to indicate the duration of pregnancy.