Meaning: “most holy; most chaste.”
The name is composed of the Cretan elements ari meaning “most” and adnos meaning “holy.” Other sources argue that it is composed of the ancient Greek elements ari meaning “most” and hagne meaning “chaste.”
In Greek mythology the name is borne by the daughter of King Minos and his wife Pasiphaë of Crete. Ariadne is most known for helping the hero Theseus overcome the minotaur and find his way back through the labyrinth by giving him a ball of red yarn. Ariadne was in love with Theseus and ran off with him after he had killed the minotaur, but Theseus had abandoned her while she was sleeping, on the isle of Naxos. This part of the myth has been popularly rendered in paintings. It is said that Ariadne later married the god Dionysus. Many scholars suggest that Ariadne was originally a pre-Olympian Cretan goddess.
The name was also borne by an early Christian martyr, a Christian slave who refused to participate in the regulatory libations to the local gods, legend says that she was hunted down by the authorities until she ran into a chasm that miraculously swallowed her up. Her feast is held on September 17 and she is a popular saint in the Greek Orthodox Church. In modern Greece, where the it is rendered in the conventional form of Ariadni, the name is still relatively common. It is growing in popularity in Spain and Poland as Ariadna. The Latin and Italian rendition of the name is Arianna, also a common name in Greece.
The name is borne by Greek-American author and syndicated columnist Arianna Huffington (b. 1950).
In recent years, its Italian form of Arianna has become quite prevalent in the U.S. coming in at # 66 among the top 1000 female names of 2008. The French form is Ariane and the more obscure Arienne. Another more modern version is Ariana, which comes in as the 81st most popular female name in the United States ( 2008). There is also an ancient Etruscan form Areatha.
Other forms include:
- Arijadna (Croatian)
- Ariadné (Hungarian)
- Ariadnė (Lithuanian)