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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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Bekah January 3, 2014 at 5:45 AM

I love Edmund/Edmond, though this may just be because of my love for the Chronicles of Narnia and the Count of Monte Cristo :) By the way, maybe Ephraim for Name of the Day? I’ve always loved the less-used biblical names.

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Amy3 December 31, 2013 at 1:31 PM

I love almost every single Ed- name. In fact, I’m not sure I can think of even one I don’t like. I prefer Ed or Ned as a nickname, although Ted is ok too. I have cousin Edward who’s called Ted.

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Emily December 30, 2013 at 8:11 PM

Edward is my second favorite boy’s name. My grandmother’s maiden name is Edwards, so Edward was on my list long before I knew much of anything about Edward’s solid, distinguished history. I like Eddie, but since watching Game of Thrones I’ve come to love Ned as well.

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Kelly December 30, 2013 at 10:28 AM

I think you have an error – the post was originally on November 22, 2008, not 2013!

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Shannon August 12, 2012 at 2:07 AM

Love Edward. My grandfather is Edward, but is called Ted. I’d love to use Edward and a different short, probably ward, in his honor.

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Shannon November 24, 2008 at 11:11 PM

I like Edward the best of the Ed names (Edgar the least). I like Ned or Ted, but Ed and Eddie are OK.

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Allison November 23, 2008 at 4:34 PM

Edward I probably could’ve worked with… Richard, no. Of course they don’t stay babies forever, but some names seem to work equally well on children and adults, though of course it’s subjective. For me, Richard (and don’t get me started on Ricky/Rich/Richie) just isn’t one of them.

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Katharine November 23, 2008 at 4:05 PM

I love fusty and dated old man names though! :-) I agree that Edward sounds noble and dignified in an old-manish way but like Arthur, George and Frederick, thats all part of his charm for me and what makes him (and the others) sound so adorable on babies. Besides babies don’t stay babies for long and if Edward really does sound a little too awkward – why not call him Ted, Ned or Eddie in the mean time…

Unlike everyone else I’m not so into Ned, in fact I find him a bit wet and dare I say – weak. I much prefer Ted or Teddy for being absolutely awesome and Ed/Eddie for being the most wearable over time.

I’m pleased Edwin seems to be getting the thumbs up, he’s a family name and while I’m not sure I’d have the gumption to use him upfront, I think he’d make a sound middle name choice. I rather like Edmund too but Edgar is a step too far for me!

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Allison November 23, 2008 at 3:01 PM

As noble as Edward is, to me he’ll always be a dignified middle-aged man. My husband’s MN is Edward, and every once in a while I have a twinge of regret about not naming our son after him, because he would have been Richard Edward III. As regal and distinguished as that is, it just sounded too fusty and dated to saddle a baby with.

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Lyndsay November 23, 2008 at 1:41 AM

Edward’s definitely the best of the Ed names. I went to school with an Edgar, he was voted Most Likely to Succeed, he never did ANYTHING but study and was very boring and kind of rude, so I’ve never liked the name. I also knew an Edwin, he had very pale skin and black hair and kind of looked a bit like a vampire, he was sexy though, but strange… he wanted people to call him Draven instead of Edwin. But the name will always remind me of him, and not in a good way. I have a new step-cousin named Edwin, he’s 2 and very cute, so maybe he will change my name on the name.

My favorite nickname would definitely be Ward! Yeah, it’s very leave it to Beaver, but are kids these days even going to know that? Second place is Ned, because I adore Pushing Daisies. Not a fan of Ed and definitely HATE Ted!

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Emmy Jo November 22, 2008 at 8:00 PM

I like Edward a lot. It’s a family middle name on my stepdad’s side (he’s James Edward Jr. and my brother is James Edward III). I’d love to use it on a son, as a first or middle, but I’m afraid it would make my dad sad.

I love the name’s royal and literary connections (I’m a huge “Jane Eyre” fan), and I love that it’s not as common as other kingly choices like Henry, William, and James. I also like Edmund (he was the hero in Jane Austen’s “Mansfield Park”), but I’m not crazy about Edwin or Edgar (you forgot to mention him).

The other thing that keeps me from using it is the possibility of a son being called Ed. Ned and Eddie are okay, but Ed is icky to me. I’m afraid that no matter how much I insisted my son was NOT an Ed, he still might get called Ed anyway. (My father-in-law insists on calling our kitten Bartholomew “Bart” instead of “Mew”, even though I’ve told him numerous times that Bart is not his name.)

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Cat November 22, 2008 at 7:42 PM

I love Edward! I like the regal feel of him, and he’s also my little brother’s middle (Christopher Edward) and I would love to use it to honor. The kid’s awesome. Ned is my favorite as well, though I’ve warmed to Ed. Ted, though, I’ll never like. I also love Edgar and Edmund, but simple Edward is appealing to me most these days.

I really hate Twilight for making it all sparkleigh vampires yay, OMG LOL he’s so hawt!11!!1! *wrinkles nose*

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Lola November 22, 2008 at 6:25 PM

I adore Edward and don’t even mind Ed or Eddie but yes, I prefer Ned, just as Dana dos. Now Ward, I don’t like. He’s too “Leave it to beaver” for me still (and that show predates me entirely!) I also adore Edgar and find Edwin appealling but Edmund’s right out for me. The whiny brother in Narnia ruined it for me when I was small. I try but can’t warm up to that one Ed- name.

Funnily enough, I had an Uncle Edward. Younger brother to Josephine. He ws a real jerk though, to most of the family, mostly his stepmim, my Babci. So I waffle in using him for family reasons but I do so love the name. If I could just disassociate! Which is why I am trying to work Edgar in somewhere instead. Edgar feels a bit more elegant in the dark, broody way I like. Yes, Verity, I still have Edward Balthazar George floating around on my lists, even if he’s not in the top 20. He’s still likely for his sound & feel if not for family!

Edward’s awesome!

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8dana8 November 22, 2008 at 5:29 PM

I love Edward and Edwin, and the nickname Ned for both. Edwin seems more upbeat and unexpected, but I know an Edward who goes by Ward, which I adore! These two are at the top of my list.

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