Why Is the Sixth Month Called June?

For students and teachers alike, June is often their favorite month. School’s out and the days are long. But where did the first month of summer get its name? In Old English, this month was often referred to as simply “midsummer month.” It also may have been called “sere-month,” meaning “dry and withered,” though this term may have meant June, July or August.

In the seventeenth century, the Latin name for the sixth month crept into English, IĆ«nius, meaning “sacred to Juno,” the Roman goddess. At this point in history, the capital forms of J and I were not yet distinguished from one another.

Juno is the Roman counterpart to the Greek goddess Hera. In Roman myth, she is the patron goddess of Rome. She is shown alternately as a cruel goddess (in Virgil’s Aeneid) and the goddess of marriage and childbirth. In fact, summer weddings are still very popular, and they may have started because of the blessing that this goddess bestowed on those wed in her sacred month.

(Why is May also a verb? Find out here.)

In the United States, the name June skyrocketed in popularity in the early twentieth century. In 1925, it was the 39th most popular name for a baby girl, as favored as Sarah and Allison are today. The name fell out of popularity through the rest of the century, but it has recently been back in vogue.

Is June your favorite month? What other months are you curious about?