Friday, February 7, 2014

Althea

Althea is a feminine, Greek Mythological name. It comes from the Greek name Αλθαια (Althaia) and might also be related to the Greek αλθος (althos) which means "healing". Most baby naming sites say that this name means "with healing power" or that it refers to the Althaea genus of perennial herbs including the marshmallow plant which is noted for its healing powers.

The Art of Naming - Greek legend name meaning healing


In Greek legends, Althea was the mother of Meleager. Behind the Name says "soon after her son was born she was told that he would die as soon as a piece of wood that was burning on her fire was fully consumed. She immediately extinguished the piece of wood and sealed it in a chest, but in a fit of rage many years later she took it out and set it alight, thereby killing her son." Clearly this name has some tragedy behind it but it is still interesting and lovely in sound.

In the 17th century, a poet named Richard Lovelace used the name Althea as a poetic pseudonym for his beloved in the poem "To Althea, from Prison". In modern times, this name is most commonly associated with the great tennis player, Althea Gibson, who was the first African-American to win at Wimbleton.

As far as nicknames go, modern parents would probably opt for Thea. I also like the idea of Allie for a small child.


This name has been in regular usage since 1880 in the US. It has had two dramatic popularity boosts in the past. One around 1920 and the other in the late 1950s even though this name has never seen more than 400 births in a single year. Althea has had steady usage since the 1970s in the 40-80 births per year range. It has not seen the Top 1000 since 1972. In 2013, there were 99 baby girls named Althea for a ranking of #1964.

Revision:  As of 2016, Althea rose to #1674 for a total of 127 births for the year. The name is due for another popularity boost.

What do you think of this ancient name? Do you feel as though it could be relevant again today?

Sibling Name Ideas:
Sisters: Bronwyn, Calliope, Daphne, Hyacinth, Juno, Olympia
Brothers: Atlas, Evander, Jasper, Oscar, Sebastian, Tarquin

Middle Name Ideas:
Althea Camille
Althea Iris
Althea Penelope
Althea Rose
Althea Willow

As a Middle Name:
Chloe Althea
Daisy Althea
Genevieve Althea
Madeleine Althea
Olive Althea

Share your thoughts on this name in the comments below.

First published: 2/7/14
Revised: 12/25/14
Revised: 5/13/17
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