The Baby Name “Io”

Jupiter's moon Io
Io against Jupiter (NASA)

Several days ago, NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day was the impressive “Io: Moon Over Jupiter,” which was taken by the Cassini spacecraft.

Jupiter’s moon Io [EYE-oh] was discovered by Galileo in 1610. He named it for Io the mythological character — a nymph who was seduced by Zeus, then turned into a cow.*

The name Io doesn’t have a known meaning, and it’s rare in the U.S.:

  • 2010: 6 baby girls named Io
  • 2009: 8 baby girls named Io
  • 2008: 5 baby girls named Io
  • 2007: 5 baby girls named Io
  • 2006: 5 baby girls named Io

Nevertheless, I’ve always found it intriguing. There aren’t many two-letter girl names out there, and this is the only one I know of from Greek myth.

Do you like the name Io? Would you give it to your baby girl?

*The name of the Bosphorus, which comes from ancient Greek and means “ox passage,” commemorates Io-the-cow’s crossing of the strait.

7 thoughts on “The Baby Name “Io”

  1. Love the sound – I’m a sucker for the “O” names, but the story of the nymph who turned into a cow would make high school a challenge for the teenager with this name.

  2. Agreed. I’d also worry about Old MacDonald:

    Old MacDonald had a farm, E-I-E-I-O.
    And on that farm he had a cow, E-I-E-I-O.

    The name is pronounced over and over again, plus there’s a verse specifically about a cow. Might not actually result in teasing, but the possibility is always there…

  3. My name is io. And I pronounce it Eye-oh
    Growing up everybody always says the first thing they think of when they hear io…
    I.O.U
    Old McDonald Song
    Replace hi ho hi ho it’s off to work we go with io io it’s off to work we go
    I never got teased though. But it could be because I grew up in Australia?
    My biggest pet peeve is people pronouncing it Ee-oh. Though I can’t really blame them!

  4. Hi, my name is Io too! I know how you feel. Some people pronounce my name Lo. I hate it so much, but luckily I don’t get teased. Although, some people call me Ohio. Oh and i’m 8. I do love how my name is special.

  5. For the computer nerds I/O stands for input/output (as in I/O device) … Donald Knuth made a joke in the METAFONT book about “Io, the goddess of input and output”.

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