Edward: Baby Name of the Day

by appellationmountain on December 30, 2013

English: Edward the Confessor PennyEditor’s note: This post was originally published on November 22, 2013.  It was substantially revised and re-posted on December 30, 2013.

He’s as classic as they come, but in the US, lags behind other regal monikers like William and Henry – despite the heartthrob vampire starring in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight.

Thanks to Katharine for suggesting our Name of the Day: Edward.

There are a handful of Ed- names, all from ead, an Old English word for rich.  That’s not necessarily rich in yachts and diamonds.  It can also mean fortunate or blessed.  Edward is “rich guard,” Edwin is “rich friend,” and Edmund is “rich protector.”  Fine meanings, all.

King Edward VIII abdicated to marry Wallis Simpson, but there were seven kings Edward of England before him.  Plenty of princes and nobles have also answered to the name, as well as lots of saints.  In the tenth century, one king was murdered and became Saint Edward the Martyr.  In the eleventh century, another ruler became Saint Edward the Confessor.  (That’s him on the coin!)

The current British royal family includes a Prince Edward Antony Richard Louis, Earl of Wessex and eighth in line to the throne, dad to Louise and James.

That’s all very proper, but Edward is also vaguely edgy, even alternative.  Twentieth century uses include:

  • In 1990’s Edward Scissorhands, Johnny Depp’s character shook up suburbia as a sort of benign Frankenstein’s monster. Instead of scaring little children, Scissorhands carves ice sculptures. In the end, he’s chased by an angry mob, too.
  • Norwegian painter Edvard Munch is probably best known for his 1893 work The Scream, an attempt to capture the sufferings of modern man.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, anime and manga claim their Edward, too – Edward Elric.
  • And, of course, Edward Cullen is the vampire heartthrob du jour, beau to Bella Swan in the Twilight series.

Jane Eyre’s beloved Rochester is also an Edward. There’s something surprisingly romantic, even brooding, about this solid name.  It was a logical choice for Meyer’s leading man.  And yet, could that be why some parents are avoiding this name?  The vampire clan’s surname, Cullen, has fared well in recent years, making it seem even more surprising that Edward remains in style limbo.

Limbo doesn’t mean rare, though.  He ranked #157 in 2012, down from #108 in 2000.  That’s a far fall from his regular Top Ten ranking from the 1890s into the 1920s, and he remained a Top 25 pick through 1957.  Odds are good that you have an Edward – or maybe an Eduardo, Eduoard, Edvard or Duarte – on your family tree.

Other household names include:

  • Legendary journalist Edward R. Murrow
  • Composer Edvard Grieg
  • Iconic television host Ed Sullivan
  • Guitarist Eddie Van Halen

Eddie, Ed, Ned and Ted have all been worn as diminutives for the name.  Ned seems particularly dashing, perhaps because of Australian folk hero Ned Kelly and Ned Nickerson, Nancy Drew’s polished and polite boyfriend.  Let’s overlook The Simpsons’ Ned Flanders.

Overall, Edward is a strong choice for boys.  It’s hard to argue that the name is anything but an evergreen classic.  And yet, even though the hundred-year rule suggests that he should be back in fashion, Edward remains slightly off trend.  That’s not a bad thing, though.  If you’re discouraged that William is so popular, Edward is an equally appealing option.

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