In Greek mythology, there is Chiron, a centaur, and Charon, the ferryman of the Underworld. They couldn't be more different, yet they have such similar names.

Is there a reason for this?


As said in the comments, the names in Greek are Χείρων for Chiron and Χάρων for Charon. This is a little bit bigger difference (two letters), but I decided it should be mentioned.

  • 8
    I would like you to note that if you use the Greek letters, it doesn't look that similar: Χείρων vs Χάρων. It's not just a one-letter difference
    – meneldal
    May 3, 2015 at 2:49
  • 2
    Similar (or same) names for different people happens in many other cultures/situations too. May 3, 2015 at 18:25
  • 2
    @meneldal in fairness, they still look pretty similar.
    – Daft
    May 7, 2015 at 10:25
  • 1
    @Daft a one letter different versus a two letter difference still deserves to be noted in my opinion,
    – meneldal
    May 7, 2015 at 13:42
  • @meneldal I edited the question to include the Greek names.
    – michaelpri
    May 7, 2015 at 14:24

3 Answers 3


There is no direct link between Chiron and Charon. That similarity means nothing; to have a direct link through their names, their meanings would have to be similar, not just the letters of which they consist.

Το όνομα Χάρων πιθανότατα προέρχεται από το επίθετο "χάρων", που αποτελεί ποιητικό τύπο του αρχαίου χαροπός/ -ωπός < ρήμα χαίρω. Δεδομένου ότι ο Χάρων ήταν χθόνια θεότητα, η απευθείας συσχέτιση με το ρήμα χαίρω οφείλεται σε ευφημισμό.


This Greek text implies that Charon is named after the verb Χαίρω, which means to be glad. His name is essentially a euphemism.

Χείρων (από το χειρ) είναι αυτός που είναι ικανός στα χέρια, αυτός που τα χειρίζεται καλά. Και φυσικά ένας γιατρός τα χρησιμοποιεί για να γιατρεύει. Για να αλείφει βότανα. Για να διορθώνει τα σπασίματα. Για να κλείνει τις πληγές. Δηλαδή χειροπράκτης ή και χειρούργος. Τέτοιος λοιπόν γιατρός ήταν ο μέγιστος Χείρων. Με τη βοήθεια των χεριών του γιάτρευε κάθε αρρώστια.


Τhis Greek text implies that Χείρων is someone adept at using his hands (hand is Χείρ in ancient Greek), since Chiron was a doctor who would heal every sickness with his medicine.

I also want to note that -ων is a suffix of many ancient Greek names (Chiron is Χείρων and Charon is Χάρων in Greek), so you could not suppose a link between the two judging from such a little amount of letters.


Centaur Chiron (Χείρων) is not as similar as it sounds with Charon (Χάρων) as you can see it written in Greek. If you can not see the fonts, try to set encoding to utf-8 on your browser. There is no connection to these two words as you can see, so there you go.


They share one powerful similarity. Charon is a spirit of the underworld and Chiron forsook his immortality and died, ending up in the underworld (unless you accept his transformation into a constellation). Therefore both function as less powerful representatives of death/hades. The similarity in names may well be a coincidence but it is still significant.

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