Arden: Baby Name of the Day


Arden: Baby Name of the Day

Arden 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.

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33 Comments

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.

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!

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.

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.

Huh. My grandpa, Walter, had a brother named Arden (who died as a child). Growing up , I always thought it was the weirdest name, and not very masculine. For some reason I thought my great-grandma made it up, but now I know it’s a real name.

Arden’s real first name was Samuel, because they didn’t want the initials of Arden Samuel S-lastname. I could see myself using it as a middle name, but not my style for 1st name.

I have a relative who named her daughter Ardyn (ugh) so I’m not a big fan already. My grandmother named Nedra (she hates her name) told me that every time she meets an Arden, she tells him that they have the same name since Nedra is Arden backward. I’m sure she gets some funny looks but it’s nice to have another name nerd in the family!

There’s an apartment complex near where I live called Arden Woods, so I’m a little turned off of that association. But I ran across the sort-of smoosh Ardith in my name searches, which I love! I think its history is more from the “ardent” root word, but it carries the Arden connotation without being an apartment name, and sounds like another favorite, Edith.

I have considered using Arden as my stage surname (my first name is Angela) because of my love of Shakespeare… but then I saw the movie “Die, Mommy, Die!”, in which one of the main characters is named Angela Arden, and it is not a flattering comparison. So now I might steer clear.

I quite like Arden, and to me it feels feminine. That might be because it reminds me of the name of a girl in a book I once read. Her name was Ardith, and I wonder now whether the author made it up or not.

Some people say Ardith is a variant of the Hebrew name also spelled Ardeth or Ardath; it’s a place name in the Bible (in one of the books of Esdras I think, in the Apocrypha) meaning “blooming fields, flowering meadows”. I’ve also seen it listed as a Swedish name meaning “spiritual prosperity”. There seem to lots of women with this name, and not sure which one their names have been taken from. A lot of them do seem to have Scandinavian surnames though.

I don’t have time to look up references/sources right now [super busy!], but I know for sure that if Ardith/Ardath/Ardeth have Hebrew origins, the meaning has nothing to do with

I got scammed by those baby name sites that just give a description of whatever is called X; in this case, Ardath (the place) is a meadow filled with flowers. It’s like those sites that say, Artemis means “goddess of the moon”. Grrr.

The fact there’s no proper meaning given might mean that nobody knows what the meaning is. Thanks for setting the record straight!

My dad has a lifelong friend named Ardell and as a result the Ard- syllable feels masculine to me. On the other hand, I know an Arden Jane and her double-barreled name really softens the heaviness of Ard-. I’d put Arden in the same category as Rowan, Morgan and Linden. I prefer them on boys, but I think they’re perfectly suitable choices for girls.

I like this name a lot, although for various reasons couldn’t use it except as a middle name.

To me, it sounds masculine, because I connect it with the Irish name Ardal, which comes from the same Celtic root. (Mind you, someone else might see Arden as a feminine form of Ardal).

Another literary namesake is “The House of Arden” by Edith Nesbit – a time-travelling children’s fantasy novel in which the Arden children, Edred and Elfrida, seek to find their family’s lost fortune.

Arden really isn’t my style, it sounds too much like the word ardent for me. It also sounds too much like the word garden but with a missing G. I would classify this as unisex – meaning if I heard it was someone’s name I would wait to learn their gender before making assumptions 😉

Like Sara, I keep trying to say garden instead, which would pose a problem for me if I liked the name enough to consider it. As it stands, Arden isn’t for me, it’s not a name I could see myself considering, although it’d make an unusual way to get a name I love from as a nickname – Harry.

That’s part of the reason I like this name! It makes me think of garden because it sounds so similar. This is also why it sounds feminine to me. 🙂

This is my son’s middle name. I found it looking through a baby book trying to find an alternative to Abram, which my husband wouldn’t agree to. I liked that it ranked on the SSA in the past. It sounded like an old man name to me. At the time I didn’t want any family names and liked a blank slate as far as names. Since then I’ve grown more sentimental and wish he’d have something with meaning in there. It could have been worse though since we were fairly young parents, so for that I’m thankful. 😀

I’m not sure why but this name just sounds like a girls name to me. It isn’t one of the those names that screams masculinity to me though it does have a unisex feel to it like Harley or Hayden.

I’d use Arden on a boy, myself. Feels just a little soft, which appeals to me. Doesn’t strike me as feminine much, really. I like the forest link, which again makes me think boy, not girl. As a surname, it also fits the boy thing. Can’t find anything in Arden that feels feminine, actually. Lovely. 😀

When you cross over the border into Warwickshire the signs all say “Shakespeare’s county” on them. He may have been influenced by his mother’s surname, but the forest itself is close to where Shakespeare lived.

I quite like Arden for both boys and girls — although I slightly prefer the Welsh Arthen on a boy I think. Leofric is one of my guilty pleasures. I have always loved it. Maybe I’m just swayed by patriotism though as his wife, Lady Godiva, is the symbolic patron of Coventry where I live.

I love the name Arden! For a girl.
The name makes me think of a garden and also the word Ardent. 🙂 It sounds feminine and beautiful to me. Unfortunately, my husband thinks it sounds like a boy’s name, so it’s out of the running for us to actually use.

My Sweet Audrina by V. C. Andrews featured a boy named Arden. That’s who I think of when I hear the name, though I did wear Red Door by Elizabeth Arden throughout high school.

It seems like a boy name to me, but probably not one I’d use. It’s just a touch on the nerdy-sounding side of things to my ear.

There was a Celtic Goddess Arduinna associated with the Belgian Ardennes. She may or may not have been venerated in the region of the Forest of Arden. Simply no evidence either way. It is certainly something else to add to the pie if choosing Arden for a girl.

In my opinion, it still works for boys, and plenty of reasons to choose it for a boy. But if it does climb the charts, I reckon it will be as a girl’s name.

I’d never really heard the name Arden before we used it for our daughter, Mila Arden. Some name websites and books mention “eagle valley” as a meaning, have you heard anything about this?

The Old Norse element arn means eagle; -den refers to a valley in English surnames like Holden, Denton, etc. So it isn’t unreasonable to assume that Arden might have developed the same way. And yet, the other explanation seems more plausible. The places called Arden/Ardenne/Ardennes have been around for ages, as have the mountains, and the families seem to come from those locations …

So, maybe. But it seems more like a folk etymology, like Solange meaning sun angel … it doesn’t trace historically, but it is easy to imagine that it might seem like it should.