Baby Name Trendlet: Ev-starting names from Eve to Ever to Everest
By Linda Rosenkrantz
For some time now we’ve been seeing a profusion of soft El-starting names, from Ella to Eleanor, Eloise, Elliot, Ellery, Elodie, et al. And now we’ve begun to notice some of her stronger, sharper, Ev-starting cousins coming into the picture, ranging from the ancient Eve to the nouveau Everest.
Eve—The simple, strong, Biblical Eve is clearly the mother of this family of names, with remarkable vigor for a three-letter name. It derives from the Hebrew word for “living” and was named by Adam ‘because she was the mother of all living,” and is now ranking at 558. Clive Owen is among the parents of an Eve.
Eva—Eva, the Latin form of Eve, is now a Top 100 name, perhaps gaining from some Ava-overflow from Ava, and influenced by the popularity of Eva Longoria and a few other sexy stars. It’s a true international favorite—Number 7 in the Netherlands, 13 in Scotland and 25 in England, and is pronounced as, yes, Ava in several cultures. One Ev-name that isn’t getting much love is Eva’s pet form, Evita, which hasn’t shaken its string connection to the longtime Argentine First Lady, Eva/Evita Peron.
Evan—This gentle Welsh form of John, by way of Ifan is now also occasionally heard on girls, as exemplified by young actress Evan Rachel Wood. But it is still a popular, evergreen choice for boys—currently Number at 47– while not even in the Top 1000 for girls.
Evangeline—Made famous as the title of a wildly popular Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem centering on the character of Evangeline Bellefontaine, Evangeline is a Greek name meaning ‘good tidings’ and was the full name of Little Eva in Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Its romantic image has been modernized by Canadian actress Evangeline Lilly, star of Lost, and appearances in both Nanny McFee and The Princess and the Frog (as the name of a star), plus it has religious overtones as well. Evangeline has been on a steep upward path for several years, and is now at Number 292.
Evelyn–The vintage Evelyn has been welcomed back with open arms by baby namers, who have returned it to the Top 30 for the first time since the 1930s—she had reached as high as Number 10 in 1910. She’s got that cool Ev-element, plus the feminizing lyn ending. (You’d never guess that it was once a primarily male name, as in Evelyn Waugh.) Angelina Jolie empowered her as the character of Evelyn Salt in the 2010 film Salt; actress Debi Mazar has a daughter named Evelyn. There were close to 7,000 little Evelyns born in 2012 and I wouldn’t be surprised to see even more when the next list appears in May.
Evelina—Connected more closely to the As than the Evs, Evelina was in regular use in the Middle Ages, got a boost in popularity from an eponymous eighteenth century novel, but has been a relative rarity in modern times. We think that’s about to change.
Evening—An evocative word name that could be a daytime alternative to Dawn. Our friend K. M Sheard cites the example of a nineteenth century Cheshire baby named Morning Dew. The full name of the Eve character in the book Eve and Adam is Evening.
Ever—There have been one recent starbaby boy (Alanis Morrisette’s) and one starbaby girl (Milla Jovovich’s, shown in the illustration)– long after Robert Carradine used it for his daughter–so we can declare it officially unisex. Ever has a patently timeless quality, and could work well in the middle.
Everett—The strong and stately Everett has been shooting up the popularity list, gaining more than 100 places in the last year, and Number 56 on Nameberry. It’s been worn as a character name in recent years by George Clooney and Dermot Mulroney, and used for his son by Isaac Hanson.
Everest—The lofty Everest, a snow-capped relation of Everett, seemed like a fresh new idea when George Lucas bestowed it on his baby daughter, though he wasn’t the first to use it. Since the Himalayan Mt. Everest, named for surveyor Sir George Everest, is the Earth’s highest mountain, Everest can be seen as a truly aspirational choiced.
Everly—Everly sneaked onto the girls’ popularity list last year, and its recent high-profile choice for his daughter by Channing Tatum will surely push it further up—it’s already in the Nameberry Top 100.
Evie—Evie is the all-purpose Ev-name nickname, a big current success on her own; she returned to the US pop list in 2007, where it is now ranked at #602—still not nearly as widespread as it is in Wales (Number 8), Australia (25) and Scotland (30).
Three names that haven’t yet benefitted from the Ev-name upswing are:
Evadne – the name of two Greek mythological figures, one of whom was Poseidon’s daughter, and another who became a symbol of wifely devotion. Evadne was heard occasionally in nineteenth century England, more often in literature than real life, and more recently was attached to a comical character on British TV. Rarely heard in the US, it would make a distinctive, esoteric-feeling choice in the Daphne–Ariadne mold.
Evander—One of the more underused Ev-names, you could almost think of him as a smoosh of Evan and Alexander. And though he may not at first sound like it, Evander is an ancient mythological name—he was a son of Hermes, an Arcadian hero who founded a city in Italy where Rome was later built and plays a minor role in Virgil’s Aeneid. The name was long associated with boxer Evander “the real deal” Holyfield.
Several of the more popular names have led to a number of variations, smooshes and spelling spins, including: