Eve: Baby Name of the Day

by appellationmountain on December 31, 2012

Cover of "All About Eve (Two-Disc Special...

All About Eve; cover via Amazon

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

Add all the Ev- names together, and you’ll find over 12,000 girls sharing that first syllable – less than Emma, more than Mia.  That’s not counting other ev- names, like Genevieve and Nevaeh.

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.

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Ashlee January 18, 2013 at 8:17 PM

Love this post. My daughter was born 12/3/12 and we Named her Eve. My husband and I loved how simple the name was. And out of the Biblical list it was our favorite. It sounds classic and elegant to me. We call her Evie which suits her so well with its slightly spunky sound :)

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Mamaof3 May 14, 2012 at 2:49 PM

Until minutes before my daughter’s birth, I was evenly split between Eve and Evangeline. One seemed a little too short, the other a bit too long. But I loved both for various reasons, among them the fantastic nickname Evie. Eve seems like such a strong, sexy name and it has a bit of an edge, which I love. Evangeline seems funky and frilly, dark and romantic. In the end we chose Evangeline so that our little Evie can choose her own appellation when she’s older…be it Eve, Eva, Evan or Evangeline.

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Juliet February 11, 2010 at 2:38 PM

I love Eve (Charlotte Eve is on my list ) & I ADORE & have for years Evangeline. Evangeline is on my list as Isla Evangeline & the middle name for Evangeline as a name alternates, though it’s been Evangeline Jade for the last few months

I think Eve is a gorgeous name that will age well & Evie as a nn is precious. I know some Christians who aren’t as fond of Eve because she led Adam into sin etc. That account in the Bible doesn’t bug me – I blame it on the serpent.

If I were to use it, it’s be as a middle name as there are more names that I like for a first place

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Rachel November 21, 2009 at 7:30 PM

I’m thinking Eve is pretty awesome right about now.

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Sebastiane October 19, 2009 at 10:39 PM

Eve is sweet, soft and even fresh. I am surprised that she just isn’t as common as the other Biblical names are. She is the first woman in the Bible. In Continental Europe, she has been a staple.

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Mookie October 19, 2009 at 8:04 PM

I keep going back and forth between using Evangeline or Eva. Eva would be used as a nickname for Evangeline anyway, but being a non-believer, I wanted to know if it seemed too weird that a name highly connected with evangelicals would be used by an atheist/agnostic. Your thoughts?

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appellationmountain October 19, 2009 at 11:14 PM

I long loved Evangeline, even in my heathen days. (I’m an adult convert to Catholicism. Which shocks even me.) At any rate, I think of Evangeline as a gothic, Edgar Allen Poe-esque name, not a religious one. Even though it’s clearly right there in the word.

My only reason for not using Evangeline is that I’m not wild about the possible nn Angie – though Vangie seems strangely appealing. I have a general rule that I won’t use a name if I dislike a potential nn.

The other thing is that I don’t know of any evangelicals who have used Evangeline – Nevaeh, yes. And Faith and Hope. But Evangeline, not so much.

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Charlotte Vera October 20, 2009 at 3:32 AM

My husband and I somewhat seriously considered Evangeline when trying to name our daughter. Incidentally, Evangeline Lilly comes from an evangelical family, although her first name is actually Nicole. (She went by Nicole before getting into the TV industry — I have a couple friends who worked with her at a Bible camp).

My circle of acquaintances includes one couple with a little Evelyn and one who have selected Guinevere for there future daughter with the intention of calling her Evie for short.

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Mookie October 20, 2009 at 8:30 PM

The fact that Angie could be used as a nickname is actually a plus for me, even though I wouldn’t use it, because my sister’s name is Angel. The slight connection to Evangeline does tempt me further.

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Mookie October 20, 2009 at 8:31 PM

Damn, my post meant to say Angela. My sister’s name is Angela, not Angel.

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Charlotte Vera October 20, 2009 at 3:33 AM

Oh, and I don’t think using Evangeline would be weird even if you’re a non-believer, considering that it’s the title of a somewhat famous Longfellow poem.

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photoquilty October 19, 2009 at 4:18 PM

I love Eve, especially in this day of too many Avas! I also think Eva is great. The only thing that prevents me from using either is that I like a name to be a bit more substantial.

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Kelleita October 19, 2009 at 3:12 PM

I loved Eve, but DH vetoed. I think it’s so fresh and simple, yet classic. I also love the Spanish nickname Evita. (That may have been the very reason, though, that DH vetoed it — too associated with the musical — which he knows I love.) :)

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appellationmountain October 19, 2009 at 4:36 PM

Evita, Evita, Evita … I love the musical, too! I’m going to have lyrics running through my head all day …

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