Chloe, Zoe, Penelope: Those Glorious Greek E Names
It started with the -oes. Unconventional a generation ago, girls' names ending in oe suddenly skyrocketed. Today, three of them-- Chloe, Zoe and Khloe -- rank among the top 50 names for American girls:
Since the beginning of that surge, Greek-derived names with non-silent-e endings have been one of the hottest categories in traditional names. They offer an elegant balance: classically feminine and fashionably vowel-heavy, without the typical -a ending or a girlish diminutive. Even Penelope, which had languished due to the mid-century popularity of the nickname Penny, is now a fashion plate:
Have all of the Greek -e names already been "discovered"? What's to become of all the parents who love these names but want a less common choice?
In fact, the vein of ancient -e names runs deep. The challenge is to find spellable, pronounceable names that sound good to modern ears, while avoiding the grimmest mythological associations. I've highlighted the likeliest choices, along with a list of more adventurous options for parents willing to push the envelope on ancient style.
The Top Contenders
Ariadne -- A potential tongue-twister, but this name is appealingly literary and offers outstanding nickname options. It's mythological roots are also flexible, with multiple stories in Greek and Celthic mythology.
Daphne -- A familiar choice, but one that has never been common. It may be the sweetest of the -e names; the resemblance to "daffy" puts some parents off.
Hermione -- This name is now strongly linked to the Harry Potter series, which may give you pause. But that does mean that everybody now knows how to pronounce it. Somewhat popular in the U.K. but rare in the U.S.
Ianthe -- A romantically literary name, for better and worse.
Ione -- Packing three syllables into just four letters, this name is a pure quirky classic. In some sans-serif fonts it can like the word Lone. (Dione eliminates this problem, but is inevitably mispronounced as two syllables.
Phoebe -- You might think this name belongs in the same category as Chloe, but it remains surprisingly uncommon (#310 in America at last count).
Xanthe -- A classical walk on the wild side.
And Just Maybe...