Xanthea is a variant of the name Xanthia, an elaboration of the Ancient Greek name Xanthe, meaning “yellow, yellow-brown”, and often translated as “blonde, fair-haired”. There are several characters in Greek mythology named Xanthe, including a minor sea goddess and one of the Amazons.
You could see Xanthea as a saint’s name too, because in some versions St Xantheas is listed as one of the Forty Martyrs, Roman soldiers who confessed themselves to be Christian and were frozen to death in an icy pond. Although Xantheas is the male form of Xanthe, it would be possible to see Xanthea as a feminine form of Xantheas.
You could also understand Xanthea as a combination of Xanthe and the Greek name Anthea, meaning “flower, blossom”, which was one of the epithets of the goddess Hera, queen of Olympus. If you are one of those people who believe that squishing two names together somehow combines their meanings, Xanthea could be translated as “yellow flower” – reminiscent of our national flower, the wattle.
In fact Xanthea is sometimes used in scientific names to denote something which is of yellow colour, including flowers such as orchids and daffodils.
Xanthea is a modern name which has been used since the 20th century. A famous namesake is Australian cross-country skier Xanthea Dewez who made her international debut last year (in the off-season she plays netball). This may increase interest in the name.
One of the name’s attractions is that it provides fashionable Thea as a nickname, although Xan and Zan are also possibilities.
This is a rare name that is nonetheless familiar, and has no more pronunciation issues than Xanthe does. To me it seems more “namey” than Xanthia, and it fits in well with the trend for names starting with a Z sound, like Zalia. I can imagine many parents being attracted to this pretty and exotic-sounding name.
Thank you to Jessica for suggesting the name Xanthea be featured on the blog.
Xanthea received an approval rating of 62%. 27% of people preferred the name Xanthe, although 20% thought Xanthea was a pretty or beautiful name. Only one person thought the name Xanthea was too modern.
(Photo shows cross-country skier Xanthea Dewez racing in the Australian Championships; she came 2nd in her age class)