He’s a preppy surname with a modern vibe.
Thanks to Violet for suggesting Eames as our Baby Name of the Day.
Before we delve into the past, let’s address two details. First, I’m fairly confident that Eames rhymes with dreams, though I’ve found a few who argue that Eames sounds just like Ames.
Second, there’s a very current pop culture reference for Eames as a given name – a character from much-lauded 2010 movie Inception.
I was about to dismiss the character’s name until I read this piece. Given the use of Ariadne for another character, surely there’s more thought involved. In the film, Eames was a forger, known for impersonating others. But all of the movie was about a sort of intricate design, and attention to detail – and that’s what makes Eames a very appropriate choice.
More on that in a minute.
The roots of the name refer to a relationship, from the Middle English word eam or eme – uncle. Uncle might have been a literal reference to a relation, or it could have been a term of respect or endearment. In any case, Eames has a long history as a surname.
There are a handful of men who have answered to Eames as a first name, too, but they’re few and far between. He’s never charted in the US Top 1000, and was given to fewer than five boys born in 2010.
Designing couple Charles and Ray Eames – she was born Bernice Alexandra Kaiser – made their name in several fields, including graphic design and architecture, but especially furniture design. The seat pictured above is just one of the couple’s iconic designs – they created many an enduring piece. Even if you’ve never heard the phrase Eames chair, you’ve seen one – at least glimpsed one, on television shows ranging from Frasier to Mad Men, and you can buy your own reproductions at Design Within Reach.
Other notables aplenty have answered to the surname. Turn-of-the-last-century operatic soprano Emma Eames, and fictional detective Alexandra Eames on Law & Order: Criminal Intent come to mind.
There’s something about this name that can read as dimly sinister – a bit character on Charmed was a villainous sorcerer called Eames. Maybe it is the long e sound, shared by evil, paired with that hiss of a final s.
But mostly, Eames reads as high-style, a hero name. The couple’s accomplishments were many, enough that the design vibe carries through in this name. His ends-in-s sound is distinctive, and shared by Miles and a list of boys’ names that are attracting attention, from Brooks to Keats.
If you’re stumped for a middle name, Eames could be great for either gender. If you’re looking for a first name for a son, Eames is less French than Yves, less expected than Ethan. Or maybe – and this is a stretch – if you’d like to honor a favorite uncle, but don’t love his name, Eames is the world’s most subtle way to do so.