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20 Top Greek Baby Names That Go Way Beyond Nick & Anita

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If all you know about Greek culture is what you saw in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, you might think that there are only two or three popular Greek names in the entire country. (You'll recall that Toula's father, Gus Portokalos, introduces his large family to Toula's future in-laws at a welcome party featuring a lamb roast and lots of ouzo. The very WASP-y Millers are overwhelmed by the abundance of Nicks, Anitas, and Dianes among all the nieces, nephews, and cousins.)

Surprisingly, this gag has more than a bit of truth to it. According to stats quoted by Behind the Name, a full 40 percent of Greek men have one of the top five names, and 60 percent have a name in the top 10. Three of every 10 Greek women own one of the most common five names. What folks in Greece lack in originality, they make up for in tradition: The Greek Reporter website explained that it's common for Greek parents to name children after their grandparents, which would explain all the duplicate names in the Portokalos clan.

Whether you're on the hunt for names for your baby, your gaming characters or your novel-in-progress, it's fascinating to see which ones are top choices internationally. According to Greek national statistics quoted by The National Herald, these are the top 20 names in Greece. While some are unique to Hellenic culture, others are the Greek versions of names you know well. Maybe one or more of them will become your new favorites. (Having a shot of ouzo at your side is optional.)

1. Yiorgos

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Pronounced "Yee-or-goes," the Greek equivalent of George is the most common name in the country. In fact, the name George, which means "farmer," according to Nameberry, originated in Greece.

2. Maria

Perhaps not surprisingly for a country that has nearly 10,000 churches (according to Ekathimerini), the top girl's name pays homage to the Virgin Mary.

3. Yiannis

As traditional a name as they come, Yiannis (or Yanni) is simply the Greek version of John.

4. Eleni

The second-most popular name for Greek girls is this variation of Helen, meaning "shining light," according to Nameberry. History buffs also know it's an homage to Helen of Troy, the beauty whose face "launched a thousand ships."

5. Constantine

Also spelled Konstantinos in Greece, this name dates back to the Roman emperor who founded Christianity in his country, per Behind the Name.

6. Katerina

Like many well-loved names, this originated in Greece and was changed over the years to variants like Katherine, Katja, Catriona, and Caitlyn. Meaning "pure," it works well no matter what variation you use.

7. Dimitris

Also spelled Demitrius or Demitrios, the fourth most-common boy's name in Greece means "follower of Demeter," according to Behind the Name. Demeter was the Greek goddess of agriculture, so following her was no doubt a very wise thing to do.

8. Vasiliki

A Greek girl's name meaning "regal," according to Nameberry, this is a name to consider if your baby is going to be the princess of the household.

9. Nicholas

That scene in My Big Fat Greek Wedding wasn't such a joke after all. More than 6 percent of all boys in Greece are named Nicholas. It doesn't do too badly over here, either; according to the Social Security Administration's records, Nicholas ranks #54 on the list of names for this decade.

10. Sophia

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It's timeless, sweet-sounding, and means "wisdom." No wonder Sophia is not only common in Greece, but also the fifth most-popular girl's name on Nameberry.

11. Panagiotis

This is one of those boy's names that you probably won't hear too much outside of Athens. Pronounced Pan-a-YIO-tis, it comes from the Greek word meaning "all-holy," per the Greek Names website, referring to the Virgin Mary. Its nicknames include Panos, Yiotis, and Akos.

12. Angeliki

From the Greek word for "messenger" or "angelic," according to Greek Names, this popular girl's name can also be spelled Aggeliki. Over here, we're more likely to name a daughter Angelica.

13. Vassilis

From the same root as Vaseliki, this boy's name refers to St. Basil, the 4th-century bishop who helped found the Christian church. He's a prominent figure in the Greek Orthodox religion.

14. Georgia

The feminine form of Giorgios isn't pronounced like our Southern state. Greek Names explained that the proper way to say it is "yee-o-RYEE-a."

15. Christos

Pronounced with the accent on the first syllable, the name, as you might expect, pays homage to Jesus Christ. However, according to the Greek Names site, the personality of boys named Christos doesn't quite live up to their namesake. Boys with this name are reportedly stubborn and don't easily admit when they're wrong.

16. Dimitra

As a name, the female version of Dimitrios is almost as popular in Greece as its male counterpart. Women there usually go with the full version of their name, but over here, our most famous Demetria is better known as Demi Lovato.

17. Athanasios

This name comes from the Greek for "immortality" and pays tribute to an early Greek saint. In Greece, it's common to shorten the name to Thanos, which may appeal to American parents (and Marvel Universe fans who don't mind that it's also the name of a major villain).

18. Konstantina

The feminine form of Konstantinos has a number of nicknames, including Tina, Konstans, and Ntinaki. The Greek Names site explained that girls named Konstantina are stable, persistent, and sociable with their closest friends.

19. Michalis

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Another name that has stood the test of time in many cultures. This is the Greek variant of the name Michael, which in itself is the seventh most-popular boy's name in America, per the SSA.

20. Paraskevi

While Charlotte holds the #10 spot in the US, in Greece, that place belongs to this unusual name meaning "preparation." Pronounced with the emphasis on the final syllable, it's the name of a female saint revered in the Greek Orthodox church.