There are good etymological dictionaries for Ancient Greek: if you're searching for the origin of a word, you'll probably find information in Frisk, Chantraine, or Beekes. But if you're looking for the etymology of the name of a mythological figure, or an island, or a town, with those dictionaries you're usually out of luck. Some proper names have an entry, but most don't, and there doesn't seem to be any method to which ones are included. Google and etymological websites are rarely helpful. Are there any etymological works for Greek that focus on proper names? Specific journals that tend to publish such articles? Does anyone have any other tips for finding proposed etymologies for a name?

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    I usually look it up in Brill’s New Pauly at first referenceworks.brillonline.com/browse/brill-s-new-pauly.
    – Alex B.
    Commented May 28, 2014 at 1:25
  • Would material written in Greek be of any use for you? Ch. Symeonidis has released books dedicated to toponymy and Babiniotis includes a fair amount of common names and their etymology.
    – Midas
    Commented Jan 7, 2017 at 23:03
  • @Midas, yes, assuming the scholarship are reliable, pointers to Modern Greek materials would be helpful! I know of Babiniotis but not Symeonidis.
    – TKR
    Commented Jan 8, 2017 at 2:20
  • @TKR ok, give me some time and I will have a better look on it. This is something of interest for me too.
    – Midas
    Commented Jan 8, 2017 at 7:51
  • @TKR: I've modified my post with some extra material in the last few days.
    – Midas
    Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 10:50

2 Answers 2


Babiniotis "Ετυμολογικό Λεξικό τής Νέας Ελληνικής Γλώσσας" is definetely a good source for personal and place names. The title refers to the modern Greek language, but includes etymologies on mythological names, ancient Greek names and placenames. Even biblical names are included. Here is a small sample:

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Of course, it's purpose is not to cover all Greek toponymy as that would require a gigantic volume. It is simply a huge etymological dictionary including place and personal names.

For toponyms and their etymology there is a dedicated book which basically covers mainly the modern names. However, since so many places are called by their ancient name it might be of your interest. In some places he explains that place name A is of Slavic origin and then tells you what the ancient name was. It is a huge volume and a bit pricey. You can have a look here: Νεοελληνκά Οικωνύμια (Τοπωνύμια) and for a sample here

There is also this site where under the "Other" tab there is an index of Pre-Greek place names. Of course Pre-Greek means no etymology.

A collection of papers dedicated to personal names: Greek Personal Names: Their Value as Evidence

Possibly one of the best resources on Greek dialectology has a searchable database of personal names as well: ΘΕΤΙΜΑ


Pape–Benseler's 1911 dictionary of proper names is old, and its etymologies maybe disproportionately rely on the etymological guesses of Byzantine lexicographers; but it is comprehensive, and always a good starting point.

  • Cool! Good to see you here, and sorry life sidelined me from that blog... Commented May 16, 2017 at 12:45

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