Xuthus was a son of Hellen and the nymph Orseïs, or else of Aeolus and Enarete. He was a king of Athens and married Creusa, the daughter of Erechtheus. Robert Graves derives his name from strouthos, 'sparrow', which stretches the credulity for both word and sense. More likely, the name is a variant of Xanthus, so that the king was 'yellow-haired'.

However, there is another colour xouthos, described by Liddell and Scott as 'between xanthos and pyrros' i.e. between yellow and red, so meaning 'tawny', 'dusky'. This seems the best reading of his name, and refers either to his skin, his complexion, his hair - or all three.