I can’t remember what caused me to fall so in love with the names Easter and Echo when I was about six years old, but fall in love I did. Those are the two names I’ve loved longest. I made a number of picture books about twins named Easter and Echo, eventually expanding them to quads who were separated into two sets of twins (à la The Parent Trap), and at one point giving them sextuplet little sisters. Hey, I was very young!
In 2004 or 2005, I resurrected Easter and Echo for a new picture book for a final project in an early childhood education class. Perhaps someday I’ll go back to them again.
Echo and Narcissus, by John William Waterhouse, 1903
Echo has the same meaning in Greek as in English. She was an Oreiad (mountain nymph) who lived on Mount Kithairon. Zeus, being Zeus, yet again couldn’t keep his pants buttoned up, and frequently sported with the Oreiads.
Hera, being Hera, got suspicious, and descended from Mt. Olympus to catch him in the act. Echo tried to protect Zeus, but instead became the latest target of Hera’s wrath. She was cursed with only being able to repeat the last few words spoken to her.
When hunter Narcisssus (Narkissos) was separated from his companions, he called, “Is anyone there?” Echo repeated it, and the last few words of everything else he said, including “Enjoy my body.” She fell in instalove, but Narcissus didn’t reciprocate at all.
Narcissus wasted away before his own reflection in a pool, and after his death, Echo too wasted away. The only thing left of her was the sound of her voice.
Illustration of Echo from ballet Narcisse
Other names which mean “echo” include:
Heid, Heyd, or Hed (rhymes with “maid”) is Hebrew.
Heidi, Heydi, or Hedi (rhymes with “lady”) means “my echo” in Hebrew.
Hibiki is Japanese.
Kaiku is Finnish.
Naruki can mean “echo self,” “echo birth,” “echo life,” “echo princess,” “echo rejoice,” “echo hope,” “echo fundamentals,” “echo radiance,” and “echo tree” in Japanese (among many other things).
Rinon can mean “dignified echo,” “jasmine echo,” “village echo,” “refreshing echo,” and “Moon echo” in Japanese.
Ukyo can mean “right echo,” “house echo,” and “feathers echo” in Japanese.
Dhwani is Sanskrit.
Hibikana can mean “beautiful apple tree echo” in Japanese.
Hikoro can mean “soul echo,” “heart echo,” and “mind echo” in Japanese.
Jehona is Albanian.
Kaja is Estonian. This isn’t to be confused with the Scandinavian nickname for Katarina, nor with the Polish and Slovenian form of Gaia or the Czech nickname for Karolína. The lattermost name is written as Kája.
Kikyo can mean “rare echo” and “echo chronicle” in Japanese.
Kyouko can mean “echo child” in Japanese.
Meisa can mean “echo sand,” “echo blossom,” “skillful echo,” “cherry blossom echo,” “colour echo,” “happiness echo,” “morning echo,” “echo shore,” “echo village,” and “echo assistant” in Japanese.
Noizu is Japanese.
Otoko can mean “echo child” in Japanese.
Otomi can mean “beautiful echo” in Japanese.
Seda is Turkish. This isn’t to be confused with the Armenian name Seda, which has an uncertain etymology.
Suna can mean “pleasing echo,” “child echo,” “water echo,” “island echo,” “sandbar echo,” “pure echo,” “green echo,” “lucidity echo,” and “whole echo” in Japanese.
Aidas is Lithuanian.
Aldonas may be derived from the Old Lithuanian aldėti (to echo, resound) and the patronymical suffix -onis.
Kyotaro can mean “eldest son’s echo,” “thick echo son,” and “thick, cheerful echo” in Japanese.
Kyouhei, or Kyohei, can mean “flat echo,” “echo warfare,” “echo soldier,” “echo design,” “echo pattern,” and “thirty-six square feet of echo” in Japanese.
Kyouki can mean “rare echo” and “echo hope” in Japanese.
Olan is Kurdish.