Arden: Baby Name of the DayArden offers a compromise between nature names and literary ones, with a tailored, modern style.

Thanks to Christina for suggesting our Baby Name of the Day.

Arden: Forest of

William Shakespeare set his pastoral comedy As You Like It in a forest by the name. Fair Rosalind ventures into the woods disguised as a youth. Hijinks ensue, but all ends happily.

The Bard’s borrowed his fantastic forest from the real world. Two actual places answer to the name.

William’s mother, Mary Arden, was born in the first, a town in Warwickshire. Like many, she took her surname from her hometown. Mary married John Shakespeare, and they made their family’s home in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Shakespeare’s forest was already in decline during his youth. He was also influenced by the Ardennes, a forest stretching from Belgium and Luxembourg to France and Germany. An earlier writer, Thomas Lodge, set a story there. Lodge named his heroine Rosalynde. Shakespeare clearly borrowed liberally.

Arden: High Land

Both forests take their names from the Celtic ardu – high land. The latter was known as Arduenna Silva by the Romans. A draft horse is also named for the region.

All of this makes it a subtle nature name, a sister for Laurel, a substitute for Rowan.

Arden: Even More Literary

Besides Shakespeare’s forest and the original in Lodge’s work, two additional works of fiction claim this name.

In the 1592 play Arden of Feversham, it’s a surname for a couple named Thomas and Alice. The story is more of a proto-Law and Order than a regular drama. The case was based on real life events, and the names were not changed. It was first performed in 1592, many years before As You Like It.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson penned “Enoch Arden” in 1864. Shipwrecked sailor Enoch struggles to return home, only to find his beloved wife has remarried. (Shades of Tom Hanks’ tale in Castaway.)

Arden: By the Numbers

The name has been used in small numbers for both genders for generations. Like many surnames, it started out more common for boys.

And why not? On sound, the name fits with Arthur and Aiden, Archer and Adrian. 92 boys received the name in 2015.

Pop culture pushes this one to the girls’ side.

Our Miss Brooks started out on radio and crossed to television and eventually the big screen, running for nearly a decade and becoming a major hit. Actress Eve Arden played Miss Brooks, a high school English teacher.

Florence Graham founded her beauty empire, Elizabeth Arden, in 1910. It remains a major cosmetics and fragrance company today. Graham chose her surname from the Tennyson poem.

All of this pushes Arden towards Team Pink,  and it’s no surprise that 300 girls received the name, putting it in the Top 1000 once more.

Arden: Ardent

In Latin, ardere means “to burn.” Our word ardent – passionate, fiery – comes from the Latin. They’re not related, but on sound alone, Arden could be taken as a modern virtue name, a sibling for Haven or True.

Arden: Rarity on the Rise

Parents love tailored names for girls, like Harper and Evelyn. Factor in ties to literature and the natural world, and this name succeeds for many reasons.

Another reason this one might rise? A names dominate baby naming in 2016, from Ava to Amelia.

If you’re looking for a rare name that feels modern, but with history to spare, add this name to your shortlist.

Do you think this name could become the next Harper?

This post was published on August 3, 2011. It was substantially revised and re-posted on June 27, 2016.

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. We named our baby boy Arden Asher. We love how unique it is. Interestingly enough, one of the nurses at the hospital was named Arden and just had to come meet him as she had never met anyone with her name before. Honestly, if we had a girl instead, I would have seriously considered it too. To me, it really depends on the middle and last name pairing to define its gender affiliation.

  2. We named our baby girl Arden Jones in 2013 (jones is her middle name, named partially after my mother’s maiden name/grandparents surname but also we just thought it was a bit rock and roll to balance out the femininity and vintage quality of Arden).

    Everywhere we go people comment on her name, most find it lovely. Most of all, it fits her very well, she’s a bright and very sweet girl, full of spark and creativity, and it will grow with her at every age. But glad this isn’t such a common name still!

  3. I named my two and half month premature daughter Arden the moment she was born. I loved the valley of the eagles “loose” translation and we knew about the high lands, ardu. What we didn’t know was that she was the first life-flight preemie in Maine in a recently FAA approved baby-life-support-air transport. The hospital she was flown to on her first day of life has a logo of an Eagle flying over the Penobscot river. The doctors and hospital staff got chill bumps when the story of her name was told to them. From her room in the NICU you could see the Eagle’s nest. Just really cool and she’s simply amazing, Arden Olivia, my “G”arden of Integrity.

  4. I am due to have my daughter in March and her name is going to be Arden Claire. I absolutely love the name:)

  5. My daughter is named Arden, and I’ve now met two other young Ardens, both girls. My husband suggested it, and I really liked it.