Lyra, Lira

Lyra (pr. lie-ra or lee-ra) is the name of a constellation in which the brightest star in its constellation is Vega. The name receives its name from Greek mythology, representing the lyre of Orpheus, a legendary poet and musician who could charm anything with his music. The name comes from Ancient Greek lúra meaning “lyre” which seems to be derived from a pre-Greek origin of uncertain origin. A species of ground-dwelling birds, the lyrebirds, apparently received its name because of the tail of the male was thought to resemble a lyre. They’re also amazing songsters, able to mimic any sound they hear, including car alarms or engines, human voices, and music. They are native to Australia.

Lira could be a variant form of Lyra and in fact in Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Ukrainian a lyre is called lira. Lira is also the name of the unit of currency previously used in Italy before being replaced with the euro, though it’s still used in Turkey, Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon. It originally derives from latin libra, referring to the ancient Roman pound, which seems to have a pre-Greek origin of unknown meaning.  Lira is also a Spanish surname, derived from a habitational place name. Though the origin isn’t certain, it’s likely derived from Latin libra, either referring to the ancient Roman unit of weight, or from the constellation and zodiac sign meaning “pair of scales” or “balance”.

It’s also the name of a musical instrument, the Ukrainian variant of the hurdy-gurdy, a stringed instrument that produces sound by turning a wheel against the strings. The Byzantine lira is also the name of a medieval bowed instrument, pear-shaped with 3 to 5 strings and held upright, its history stretching back to the Byzantine empire and related to the Calabrian lira, the Cretan lyra, and the Lira de braccio.

Lira is also the singular form of Lirae, from Latin referring to fine lines or ridges outside the shells of various animals, such as the shells of mollusks, snails, oysters, scallops, etc., which derives from a PIE source.

Origin: Ancient Greek

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