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Doris is a proper noun, with several denotations.

  • As a forename, it is used for girls - not often nowadays. As its first use in English (the Latin writer Juvenal used it as a name for his mistress) is recorded in Withycombe as being 1819, its fashion has been brief. In early use it was pronounced in a way that reflects a Greek origin, (Δωρἰς) with a long '-o-': 'DOH-ris' (IPA: /ˈdaʊr ɪs/): now it is always 'DORR-is' (/ˈdɒr ɪs/). Its meaning may be 'a woman of the Dorian tribe', suggesting a learned origin in classical scholarship, or it may belong to the mythical character.
  • Doris was the name of one of the geographic divisions of Greece in classical and pre-classical times. Its precise meaning was largely mythological and ethnic, and varied over time to reflect various shifts of power.
  • In Greek mythology, Doris was a minor goddess of the sea, the consort of Nereus and the mother of his daughters, the Nereids or sea-nymphs, who numbered fifty (in some versions, more).

Dorus, in Greek myth, son of Hellen, the eponymous ancestor of the Hellenes (Greeks), himself the son of Deucalion. Hellen became, by the nymph Orses, the father of the mythical ancestors of the three great branches of the Greek race, Aeolus (of the Aeolians), Xuthus (of the Achaeans and Ionians), and Dorus (of the Dorians). "Dōrus" Howatson, 2011 <>

  • An equivalent masculine forename is Dorian, apparently invented by Oscar Wilde in his novel The Picture of Dorian Grey (1890 in Lippincott's Magazine and 1891 in book form), the story of an end-of century decadent youth. He is painted on account of his great beauty by Basil Hallward, and sells his soul to allow only the portrait to show traces of his vices and bad behaviour. It grows uglier and uglier, while its subject remains young and handsome. Finally he stabs it, and is discovered aged and corrupt, beside the portrait in its original state.
    • Dorian in other use is the adjective meaning 'of Doris {or Doria)', one of the divisions of ancient Greece. The Dorians were believed to have invaded the Greek peninsula from the north west. They, along with the Aeolians, Achaeans and Ionians, were one of the four main 'tribes' of classical Greece: the dispute between the Dorians, led by Sparta, and the Ionian (or 'Attic') forces led by Athens known as the Peleponnesian War was the crucial event dividing the fifth from the fourth centuries BCE. States claiming Dorian loyalty included Sparta, Corinth, Tiryns, Macedon, Crete, Asian Greece, Syracuse and many of the Greek colonies in Southern Italy. For more, see Dorian - Doric.

Some specific gifts of the Dorians to culture include:

  • The Doric dialect, of the classical Greek language;
  • and two areas of the arts
    • the Dorian mode, in music;
    • the Doric order, in architecture - all three dealt with in rather more detail at Dorian - Doric