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.