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Orion Name Meaning: Origin, Popularity & Nicknames

Learn about the name Orion including the meaning, gender, origin, popularity, and more.

Orion Overview

  • Meaning: Deriving from the ancient Greek word mountain.
  • Gender: Historically, it has been a boy’s name.
  • Origin: Orion’s origins are in the popular Greek myth about the giant hunter who, after his death, was set in the stars. There is a constellation named after the character.
  • Pronunciation: “oh-REYE-un.”
  • Popularity: Orion became pretty popular in the early 1980s, growing more popular in the late 2000s.
  • Nicknames: Ian, Ion, Ori, Rye, Ryan.
  • Variations: Oryan, Orien, Orin.
  • Namesakes: Agustin Orion, Orion Ben, Orion Lee, Orion Martin, Orion Samuelson, Orion Weiss.

What Does Orion Mean?

The name Orion conjures images of the stars since most people know Orion as a constellation. The name Orion has roots in the ancient Greek word for mountain, oros (1).

What is the Origin of the Name Orion?

The name Orion has origins in Greek mythology. Orion’s story, like most Greek myths, is a sad tale. Orion was a handsome giant who fell in love with a princess named Merope. Merope’s father, King Oenopion, disapproved of the relationship and blinded Orion.

Orion’s sight was restored by the ancient God Helios (the God of the Sun), after which he went to another island to live with the goddess Artemis. After he died, Zeus placed him in the stars, which is why we know of the name as a constellation.

Most people can recognize the constellation by Orion’s belt, though you can also scope out the stars in the shape of his club, pelt made from lion skin, and sword (2).

How Popular is the Name Orion?

For a long time, Orion existed only in Greek mythology. Prior to 1979, there is little data that American or English-speaking countries named their children Orion. In fact, the name ranked nearly at the bottom of the 1000 most popular baby names up until 1998.

In the last ten years, Orion has become more popular. In 2021, it was the 314th most popular baby name for a boy, down from the 300th most popular in 2018 (3).

The name Orion has grown in popularity since the early 1980s, and at present, is a pretty popular name.

How Do I Pronounce Orion?

English speakers pronounce the name “oh-REYE-un.”

Is Orion a Boy or Girl Name?

Orion is a moderately popular name for a boy. It is a rare name for a girl; there is no data of the name Orion making the top 1000 names for girls of any year (4). That does not mean that the name Orion could not fit a girl, only that it is still rare.

Perhaps another reason Orion is a more popular boy’s name is that the mythological character Orion is a male giant. Because the namesake is male, Orion has grown in popularity as a baby name for boys.

Variations of Orion

Here are a few variations for the name Orion.

  • Oryan
  • Orien
  • Orin

Nicknames for Orion

Though Orion is already a short name, there are many fun and quirky nicknames for boys named Orion.

  • Ian
  • Ion
  • Ore
  • Ori
  • Rye
  • Ryan

Similar Names to Orion

Several names are similar to Orion. Some of them also double as variations or nicknames. Check them out below!

  • Lior (Hebrew)
  • Or (Hebrew)
  • Oren (Hebrew)
  • Orin (British)
  • Orli (Hebrew)
  • Ryan (Irish)

Middle Names for Orion

Here are some great middle names to consider for your baby Orion. Some of these are also of Greek origin, while others bounce around the globe.

Sibling Names for Orion

If you are planning on adding more children to your family after Orion is born, here are options for Orion’s baby brother or baby sister:

For a Brother:

For a Sister:

Famous People Named Orion

Though Orion is not the most popular name, there are quite a few people named Orion who has made headlines. Here are just a few:

  • Agustin Orion: Argentinian soccer player.
  • Orion Ben: British actress.
  • Orion Lee: Australian actor.
  • Orion Martin: American painter.
  • Orion Samuelson: American radio and TV host.
  • Orion Weiss: American pianist.

Orion in Popular Culture

Most instances of Orion in popular culture stem from the Greek myth. Here are just a few places where Orion’s story has surfaced in other mediums.

  • Diane auprès du cadavre d’Orion: Painting by Daniel Seiter.
  • L’Orieone: 1653 opera by Francesca Cavalli.
  • Orion: 1843 poem by Richard Henry Horne.
  • Orion: 1984 book series by Ben Bova, in which Orion is a time-traveler.
  • Orion: 2006 public sculpture created by Mark di Suvero.

Orion FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions about the name Orion.

What Is the Female Version of Orion?

While Orion is typically a boy’s name, there is no equivalent name for a girl (like Samuel for boys and Samantha for girls). That being said, there is nothing keeping people from naming their girls Orion.

Some people point to a star within the constellation of Orion named Bellatrix. The name Bellatrix means female warrior.

While it is not quite the same as an origin with the meaning mountain, nor is it similar sounding to Orion, Bellatrix is a companion to the name Orion because of its inclusion in the constellation.

Was the Mythological Figure of Orion a Warrior?

Orion was a skilled hunter, not a warrior. He was so skilled that Gaia, the goddess of Earth, grew fearful that he was going to kill every living thing in the world. She sent a scorpion to kill Orion, and after his death, Zeus put him and the scorpion who killed him in the skies.

Does Orion Mean Urinate?

The origins of the name Orion are deeply entrenched in ancient Greek. Because of that, there is some ambiguity and discussion about what the name actually means. While there is a consensus that the name comes from the word oros, or mountain, there are also scholars who believe that the name comes from the ancient Greek word for urinating.

One piece of evidence for this suspicion is the birth process of the Greek mythological giant Orion. Zeus, Hermes, and Poseidon urinated on the hide of a bull they had been served in a feast and buried the hide. Later, when King Hyrieus dug up the hide, he found baby Orion.

While this origin story may feel unpleasant, rest assured that the name Orion is no longer synonymous with the Greek word for urinating.

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