Evan and Alexander have been popular for years. Why not this choice?
Thanks to Sarah for suggesting the winning Evander as our Baby Name of the Day.
Evander isn’t related to Evan. Evan is yet another international variant of the evergreen John, this time of the Welsh variety.
Evander and Alexander, on the other hand, share roots. Eunadros comes from eu – good – and andros – man.
In ancient myth, Euandros was a good guy, a Greek hero who founded a settlement near what would eventually become Rome. Evander hailed from Arcadia. Depending on who you ask, his dad was the messenger god Hermes or Mercury, or possibly just a regular ol’ king. Regardless, the son did pretty well for himself – not only did he found a new city, he also introduced the Greek alphabet, their system of laws and justice, and their gods to the future seat of the Roman Empire. He also features in the events of the Trojan War.
Other Evanders were plentiful, including a scholar from Athens and another in Crete. Little wonder the creators of HBO/BBC original series Rome picked it up as a character name.
Plenty of choices from the glory days of Greece and Rome have endured. Homer, Virgil and others were big from Colonial America into the early twentieth century, so it is no surprise to find Evander amongst early US Census results.
He may also have been an English equivalent of Iomhar, a Scottish version of the Old Norse Ivarr. That seems like a long shot – after all, McIver and McIvor persist as Scottish surnames and Ivor and Ivar have long histories of use. So let’s say Evander is not exactly a Scottish heritage choice, but you might find him floating around in your family tree. Evander McIver Law was a Confederate general during the Civil War.
If Evander is related to Ivarr, then he is also tied to the stylish Archer. Ivarr’s arr signifies a warrior; the first element suggests a bow.
The name appeared in the US Top 1000 just once, back in 1895, but he was in use throughout the nineteenth century.
Then came Evander Holyfield, a former heavyweight world champ, as well as an Olympic medalist. Despite strings of notable victories, he is perhaps best known as the victim of fellow boxer Mike Tyson’s bizarre ear-biting rage incident in 1997.
Others who answer to the name include:
- The NHL’s Evander Kane, currently with the Winnipeg Jets;
- Dutch footballer Evander Sno.
With Evan currently at #36, and a Top 100 pick since the 1980s, and Alexander at #6, and a Top 100 name since the 1970s, you would almost certainly expect parents to land on Evander as something different, but instantly familiar.
Instead, he remains obscure. Perhaps Holyfield’s notoriety gives parents pause. Or maybe those who embrace unusual names dislike his common short form, Evan, though Van could be an alternative.
All of this opens the door wide. Evander feels familiar and not too outlandish, and yet he is far less common than supposedly different choices, like Ryder or Weston, Justice or Jax. That’s a powerful combination!