How Did The Month Of June Get Its Name?

June is a great month. School’s out. The days are long. The weather’s warm.

Perhaps the Anglo-Saxons—who spoke that linguistic ancestor of English known as Old English—were onto something when they collectively called June and July Liða. That’s pronounced like leethuh ], with the character ð having the voiced th-, like this. Liða itself may mean “calm” or “mild.” On its own, June was sometimes also referred to as Ærra-Liða, which is like “ere/first Liða,” and July Æftera-Liða, or “after/second Liða.”

So, how did the sixth month of the year go from Liða to June?

Where did June come from?

June ultimately comes from the the Latin Iunius, “of Juno (Iuno),” referring to the Roman goddess. The J sound for the I in Latin’s Iuno emerges in French, and its spelling with the letter J didn’t settle in English until the late 1600s.

The name Iuno itself appears to come from the Latin iuventas, “youth,” which is related to words like juvenile and rejuvenate. In ancient Rome, Iunius was the fourth month of the year in a 10-month calendar.

While Iunius was sometimes used alongside Ærra-Liða in Old English and Middle English, June took over, along with the other ancient Roman names for the months of the year, with the spread of Christianity in England in the the Middle Ages.

Who is Juno?

So, who is Juno, you ask? Identified as a counterpart to the Greek Hera, Juno was an important and powerful ancient Italian deity who became the protector of Rome, wife of Jupiter, queen of gods, and goddess of marriage, childbirth, and fertility.

Summer weddings are pretty popular, and they may have started because of the blessing that this goddess bestowed on those wed in her sacred, namesake month.

When did June become a name?

In the United States, the given name June skyrocketed in popularity in the early twentieth century. In 1925, it was the 39th most popular name for a baby girl … a place held by the name Hannah today.

While the name fell out of popularity through the rest of the century, it has recently been back in vogue, breaking into the top 200 most popular girls names in 2020. Of course, it remains a popular choice for babies born in the month of June.

What do we celebrate in June?

June has its share of celebrations and holidays. As you probably know, it’s the month we honor the fathers in our lives with Father’s Day on the third Sunday in June (June 20, 2021) and commemorate the emancipation of the last enslaved African Americans on Juneteenth (June 19). The month of June is Pride Month, a month-long observance in celebration of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people—and the history, culture, and contributions of these people and their communities. It’s also African-American Music Appreciation Month—and we’re celebrating the words, spanning Louis Armstrong’s blues to City Girl’s drip, that Black musicians helped take platinum in our lexicon.

June 14 is Flag Day, the anniversary of the day (June 14, 1777) when Congress adopted the Stars and Stripes as the national flag of the United States.

Find out why we continue to raise our flags on Flag Day with a closer look at the history.

And if you were born between May 21 and June 20, we know what you’re celebrating this month: YOU! You’re a Gemini, with a birthday that falls between those dates, and you’re known for being witty, wise, and whimsical. Don’t worry, if you were born after June 20, you’re a Cancer, and we’ve got words for you too.

Happy Ærra-Liða, everyone!

What about July? Can you guess who it was named for?

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