Editor’s note: This post was originally published on October 19, 2009, and was substantially revised and re-posted on December 31, 2012.
She’s the original woman – Adam’s rib.
Thanks to Rhea for suggesting the Biblical, beguiling Eve as our Baby Name of the Day.
Flip open your Bible to the Book of Genesis and you’ll find that after God created the World, he got busy creating we little people. The first man was Adam. He gave up a rib and got himself a helpmeet.
Her name comes from either the Hebrew chawah – to breathe – or chayah – to live. (Variant spellings abound.) Some link her back to an ancient Hurrian goddess, Heba or Kheba, from as early as 2500 BC.
But we remember Eve for earning both her and Adam a one-way ticket out of paradise to the real world, replete with death and taxes and traffic jams and celebrity offspring named Apple.
For generations, parents avoided her, as well as the Latin Eva though she’s not completely unknown. It wasn’t until the 19th century that Eva took off, helped in part by Harriet Beecher Stowe’s character in her 1852 novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
Eva appeared in the Top 100 from the late nineteenth century into the 1930s. She slipped for a few decades, but has been gaining since 1997, reaching #83 in 2011. Meanwhile, her single-syllable sister has languished, rarely appearing in the US Top 500. She stands at just #546 as of 2011.
That’s not to say you won’t hear Eve. She features in a number of names, including:
- Evelyn, #24, as well as Evelynn
- Evangeline, #286
- Evie, #644
Besides her sound, other associations include:
- Scientific researchers refer to Mitochondrial Eve – the female ancestor of all living humans, stretching back 150,000 to 250,000 years BC.
- In 1950 Hollywood, there’s the Oscar-winning All About Eve. Aging Broadway star Margo (played by Bette Davis) befriends young fan Eve (Anne Baxter). Trouble is, the young woman is a schemer and soon usurps Margo’s latest gig and her beloved. By the end, Eve has everything that once belonged to Margo – even a young fan of her own.
- Actress Eve Arden was born Eunice.
- Eve Plumb is better known as Jan Brady.
She’s been worn by a cigarette, a volcano, more than one rock band and comic book character and a few morereal people, too.
But it may be two unrelated words that are Eve’s downfall – and salvation. She’s not related to evil – that word comes to use via the Old English yfel. She’s also not related to word for evening. That comes to us from the Old English aefen.
Since the 1200s, an eve has been the day preceding a feast – Christmas Eve, for example. It lends her a feeling of hopeful possibility and anticipation. It’s this association that makes her so wearable – she’s almost a day name. Yet she’s as spare as Jane or Anne. For a single-syllable, three-letter name, Eve is rich with meaning and possibility – a feminine classic to consider for the frills-free aficionado.