She’s an inevitable mash-up of popular names, but claims botanical, artistic and Celtic roots, too.
Thanks to Photoquilty for suggesting Aven as Name of the Day.
On television’s Gossip Girl, Matthew Settle is dad to the earnest Daniel and queen bee Jenny – both in their teens. In real life, he and wife Naama Nativ became new parents in 2009, to daughter Aven Angelica.
Aven has yet to appear in the US Top 1000, but she sounds like a riff on Top Ten Ava. She has much in common with plenty of popular picks, including Avery and Eden, as well as masculine Evan, occasionally bestowed on girls.
But there are three other possible origins.
First, Aven could be a trim Anglicization of Aoibheann, Aoibhín or Aoibhínn. They’re traditional Irish names that mean something like beautiful. The name surfaces in the sixth century, when the well-born Aoibheann was the mother of future saints Enda and Fanchea.
But before you call Aven a legitimate heritage choice, note that the usual Anglicization would’ve been Eaven, which more accurately reflects the pronunciation – EEV uhn or EEV ahn. Today, it is difficult to imagine an American girl not answering to AYV ehn or AY vuhn.
The second association is artistic. You’ll find the River Aven on the map in France. It wends through Brittany, lending its name to Pont-Aven. From the middle of the nineteenth century onwards, it became a favorite spot for artists. Paul Gaugin arrived in 1886 and while he didn’t stay long – apparently Pont-Aven was quickly overrun by tourists, tee shirt shops and Starbucks – the link remains.
Trouble is, Aven might bring to mind Biblical Beth-Aven or Bethaven, a hotbed of idol-worship in the Old Testament. Or not. The River Avon – a name shared by at least a dozen rivers – is so common because the Celtic abona meant river, as did the Welsh afon and Breton aven.
If you’re looking for a nature name link there is a stronger connection.
The third source comes from flowering plants found nearly everywhere. There are Mountain Avens and Creeping Avens, Purple, Yellow, White and Red Avens.
It’s said to be the flower that inspired Settle to choose the name. And so maybe she is simply a modern floral pick – less enduring than Rose, not quite as fashionable as Violet but certainly less over-the-top than Petunia or Azalea.
It’s a true rarity, though there are a few male Avens in the Census records. They may be wearing a surname – in the last spot, Aven can claim Dutch, French, German, English and Scandinavian origins.
A handful of women wear the Gaelic version of the name, even in recent years. Aoibheann Sweeney won rave reviews for her 2007 debut novel Among Other Things, I’ve Taken Up Smoking. In 2005, the winner of the Rose of Tralee festival – a sort of Miss America for Ireland, but open to any woman with Irish roots – was Aoibhínn Ní Shúilleabháin.
Overall, Aven is intriguing. There’s more to her than you might think at first. Her similarity to other popular names could be a selling point. But there’s no shortage of reasons to embrace Aven.
I named my baby girl Aven last year, a last minute decision, as I had time to “Google” the name at work one day. In childhood it was my play name, I thought I’d made it up. I wasn’t satisfied with the other name choices we’d had for naming our second girl: Gwendolyn, Evelyn, Vera…and I thought: let’s just see what Aven means. I’m so happy we chose it; she is fair and radiant and oozes love 🙂
I love this name, and am considering using it for my daughter when she is born.
I just wanted to add ah-ven as a pronunciation. Pont-Aven (the French town you included a photo of in your post) is actually pronounced Pont-Ah-venne, it’s a proto-Gaelic word for river. I am a French speaker, and French A’s are never said like “ay.” The “n” is pronounced at the end, unlike other French words, due to the Celtic background of Brittany, the region where the town is in. So it sounds like “ah-venne.” Here is a source for the pronunciation: http://www.pronounceitright.com/pronunciation/pont-aven-8112
Also, I believe the mountain flower is pronounced ah-ven as well: http://www.dictionary.com/browse/avens
I have also found a Scottish Gaelic site where they say the old Gaelic word for river, is pronounced ah-ven: http://www.clanstrachan.org/history/pronunciations/
Here is a quote from the above site, from Dr. Philip Smith, learned Gaelic speaker and professor of linguistics:
“The word for “river” in Gaelic is abhainn /AH-ven/ so the “River Aven” is a reduplication — “River River.””
So ah-ven is a legitimate English pronunciation, from what I can tell 🙂
Our sweet little Aven just turned six weeks old. It took me some time to have the courage to select such an unusual name, but my husband and mom gave me the courage to go for it. We love the name and are surprised it isn’t more common.
It’s interesting that Aven can be connected to river and that you mentioned Aoibheann, Aoibhín etc. because the Irish word for river is Abhainn which also looks a bit like those names but is actually said Ow-in (not so attractive!)
I was looking for names in other cultures as I am looking for a short name for my baby we are expecting. I saw Aven which surprised me. Aven is a very common word and name in my culture, Kurdish. The reason it is common and people stick to it for generations, I guess, is because it has a beautiful meaning “LOVE”.
@Rebaz – Thank you so much for sharing that information! It’s such a lovely meaning for a beautiful name. Congratulations on your baby on the way!
D. Juniper says
We named our daughter Aven this past spring and I absolutely love it! We had narrowed down our name options to Aven, Juno, or Piper. This name was strong sounding while still being feminine. We have had some people wonder if she is a boy or girl, but I love that strength that allows some ambiguity in first impressions. Overall she seems to like it!
I love this name, ever since I first heard the song Aven, Aven by the Gipsy Kings.
I’m named after the flower and I love my name – with any name there are bound to be problems and complaints, and of course I’ve had my share. But in the end, it’s not that difficult to pronounce or spell, and I’ve enjoyed its significance and unique (but not crazy unique) qualities. The worst thing, if I had to pick, about Aven is that it’s an acronym for the Asexual Visibility and Education Network. But I love my name, and the day I meet another Aven in person will be a day to remember.
It has been my name for 42 yrs. I guess it could be worse, but it’s always been miss pronounced and misspelled in all kinds of tortuous ways. I have been called Ivan, ava, Avon, ah-ven, oven, Owen, even, my husband’s aunt calls me avie.
I have not enjoyed having an unusual name. The nice thing to do is to name your baby something simple, phonetically correct, easy to spell and pronounce, and one that people have actually heard of before. Not some frilly sounding “unique” obnoxiously spelled, word that parents think is cool. We have to live with our name all our lives, wish more people looked at it from the perspective of living with the name than how they think it sounds. Aven looks simple enough, and should be, but, that’s not been my experience.
Thanks for sharing your experience, Aven. It’s true that simple names aren’t always …
But it’s tough to say what your child will like, and that’s part of the challenge. My mother had a unique family name and hated it. She gave me a short, “normal” name, thinking it was a kindness … and I hated it and legally changed my name. 🙂
I LOVE Aven.. yet, I can only read the first two lines of this post! I was so looking forward to learning more about it.. Please fix when you have time to spare! 🙂
I love my name, however, it does get mispronounced frequently. It was hard as a kid, but now it is great, no last name needed to make sure you are talking me. It seems to be gaining popularity these days.
My name is Avan, pronounced the same way. I have yet to meet someone with this name. People I meet say that my name sounds beautiful and unique. I used to hate it as a child but now I love that I have such a different name.
Oh my… I like this one a lot. I’m writing this one down next to my all-time favorite names of Wren and Quinn.
Oh! You have done Aven.
I like this name . If I were to use it, it would only be as a middle name usage, personally There’s nothing wrong with it as a first name – just not my style. Ava is a possible nickname and is a name that I highly dislike, so that would be off-putting.
It has Gaelic roots – HUGE plus in my book. It has a clean, crisp sound, while being slightly mystical ( to me , anyway). I can imagine a cloaked woman walking through an Irish forest during the Medieval times.
Nice and interesting. Hope it becomes used more
I quite like Aven! Clean, simple, and pretty, suggestive of a bird or the flower. Aven’s lovely!
On second thoughts… it might be a bit close to my name, both having the same ending. In fact, my old Geography teacher used to pronounce my name Bay-ven. Well she did when she wasn’t calling me Brenda!
So in conclusion, lovely name but probably not for me unfortunately.
Love it 🙂 Different but not crazy obscure. I think Aven will be a definite contender when the time comes.
I find it interesting and pretty…yet because of the ay- sound in the beginning, it reminds me of the -ayla, -aylee, and -aylyn names more than anything else. There’s also the similarity to Ava, but I definitely like it better than Ava, which is a bit predictible. It does seem to be part of the girls’ name blob. Still, it’s pretty and definitely more interesting than those others.
It is an interesting floral name, one I can definitely see catching on with parents who like the trendy -en ending names and Ava. It still sounds a tad bit too masculine for my tastes (a bit too similar to Evan).
I think it’s sweet. It reminds me of a baby bird for some reason.
Ah, the bird connection – the Latin avis, for bird! How could I forget, and thank you, SarahinJune. 🙂
Plus, it rhymes with Raven.
Aven is adorable, its short sharp and sweet too! Its definatly a keeper.
I prefer it much more than names such as Ava or Eden. It has more character. I tend to like names which arnt exceedingly popular, as there often have something more to them
I’ve always liked the name Aven, it is my name, “Neva”, in reverse:)
I like the Irish name Aoibheann, but Aven just looks like the make-up brand Avon spelled wrong. NMS.