Eden: Baby Name of the Day

by appellationmountain on October 16, 2012

oil on wood panel oil on wood panel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

She’s a place name, paradise lost.

Thanks to Sarah for suggesting Eden as our Baby Name of the Day.

I always wonder if Eden first occurred to parents with a grandma Edith on their family tree.  Eden feels like a modern update to Edith or Enid.

Adam and Eve‘s hometown comes from the Hebrew phrase Gan ‘Edhen.  Scholars have debated Eden’s origins, citing Hebrew, Akkadian, Aramaic, and Sumerian roots over the years.

We understand Eden as center stage for the Book of Genesis, and a lush, green, fruitful land.  We may scoff at girls being named after gritty Brooklyn or think of industrial New Jersey when we hear Camden, but Eden has none of that baggage.  She’s a synonym for paradise, for delight.

Eden does have a potentially heavy meaning.  Not only is she the land left behind by the first man and woman in disgrace, but Eden features in art and literature, from Michelangelo to Milton.

There are well over a dozen places in the US alone, all of which took their moniker from the Biblical place.  Factor in street names, and there are Edens galore.

There are more possible origins for Eden, unrelated to the garden:

  • The Old English ead - wealth – appears in names like Edward and Edith.  Eadhun and Edun were once in use as masculine personal names; there’s a ninth century Bishop Eadhun of Winchester.
  • Castle Eden in Durham took its name from yew dene – dene is a valley; yew refers to the tree.
  • Or maybe Eden came from itouna, ituna,or idun - water, and the origin for the name of Cumbria’s River Eden.

These survive as the surname Eden, like British Prime Minister Sir Anthony Eden.  Over the centuries, a handful of men have worn the name, too.  In some cases, it is easy to see that it was a mother’s maiden name passed down to a son.

In the US, Eden’s introduction as a girls’ name is attributable to television.

In 1984, daytime soap opera Santa Barbara introduced a character named Eden Capwell.  She was a wealthy, privileged golden girl, and over the next six years she’d feature in a star-crossed romance with police officer from the wrong side of the tracks, Cruz Castillo.  By 1986, the name Eden had entered the US Top 1000 for girls.

The name’s climb continued after the show ended.  Eden entered the Top 200 in 2010 and ranked #181 in 2011.  She’s likely to go higher, too.  Consider:

  • Modern names with ties to Christianity are big in the current Top 100: Nevaeh, Faith, Trinity, Genesis, Serenity.
  • Ends-in-n choices for girls are stylish, from Madison and Addison to Evelyn and Allison.
  • Vowel names are big today, and popular E choices include Emma, Ella, Emily, and Eva.
  • Eden also fits with word names, like Autumn, and shares something of her nature vibe, too.

Eden stays in the spotlight, thanks to figures like pint-sized pageant queen Eden Wood.

All of this makes Eden an intriguing mix of meaningful place name and pop culture darling.  She’s modern but substantial, tailored but solidly established as feminine.  It’s easy to see why parents are flocking to Eden.

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Panya November 13, 2012 at 6:48 AM

Even though Eden is genuinely unisex, I think male when I hear it as a given name. Not for my usual reasons though [ ;-) ] — this one makes me think of Edan and Etan and Ethan.

On a girl, I think of Barbara Eden.

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Katie M November 10, 2012 at 2:06 AM

I have a young cousin named Eden. It suits her well, but not something I would ever consider myself. I can’t even imagine it as a male name.

I also know a little girl named Nevaeh. Again, something I would never use.

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Jenna October 17, 2012 at 3:01 PM

My two-year-old is named Eden. Eden Fiona to be exact. It suits her very well. Great post!

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The Name Station October 17, 2012 at 11:54 AM

I really love this name, but as a personally non-religious person I’m pretty certain I wouldn’t use it. I do agree she’ll rise a bit higher, though I’m not sure when/if she’ll crack the Top 100.

There’s also a soap actress named Eden Riegel – she played Susan Lucci’s daughter Bianca on All My Children.

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Virginia October 16, 2012 at 5:02 PM

I considered the name Eden for my cat. It was my mom’s suggestion!

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Kristin October 16, 2012 at 1:33 PM

I see why Eden has gained in popularity, but I so much prefer Edith or, if wanting a tie to the creation story, Eve. I suppose Eden’s sound is just too modern for my liking. A bit too blunt and forceful.

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Rachel October 16, 2012 at 11:16 AM

Marcia Cross has a daughter named Eden (with twin Savannah)- I love the name! I’ve never thought of using it for a boy.

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C in DC October 16, 2012 at 10:16 AM

I went to college with a girl Eden. My first thought for the popularity of the name is Barbara Eden.

Edan is an anagram for Edna, and I thought about using Eden as a tribute to my grandmother.

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Alexandra October 16, 2012 at 7:18 AM

When I was younger I knew a little girl named Eden, sister to Bethany. These names may have started my obsession. Eden is a beautiful name but I do see it almost exclusively on a girl.

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Charlotte Vera October 16, 2012 at 6:04 AM

While I’ve known *of* girls named Eden the only Eden I actually know is an adult male, which makes the name unisex in my mind. It’s not my personal style, but I can understand why it’s gaining in populrity. Plus, Edie is a cute nickname.

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SkyeRhyly October 16, 2012 at 9:25 AM

Yeah its definitely unisex imo. I prefer it on a girl though

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