Thanks to Urban Angel for suggesting Everest as Baby Name of the Day.
If Everest strikes you as a wild and wacky choice consider this: there’s a Pope Saint Evaristus on the books. While we don’t know much about him, his name has survived in some languages, like the Spanish and Italian Evaristo and French Évariste. A parent seeking a logical modern day English update would almost certainly arrive at Everest.
Evaristus and company have Greek roots, from that oft-used element eu – good – and arestos – pleasing. But most parents considering Everest are probably thinking of the highest mountain on Earth, the Himalaya’s Mount Everest over 29,000 feet tall. Everest takes on the sheen of a modern virtue name, signaling achievement – or at least grandeur.
Of course, the mountain’s name is a subject of some debate. The peak also answers to Qomolangma, Chajamlangma, Sagarmāthā, Zhumulangma and Chomolangma. The native names were in use in 1856 when British surveyor Andrew Waugh put the mountain on the map. While the surveyors preserved local names elsewhere, in this case, Waugh insisted that wasn’t possible. Instead he suggested the peak be named after his predecessor as British Surveyor General of India, Colonel Sir George Everest.
Everest himself opposed the idea. Maybe he was embarrassed by the honor, but he was also concerned that Everest couldn’t be pronounced in Hindi. The European appellation remains a sore point in the region today. The local names all translate to something along the lines of Holy Mother, and she’s insulted.
Everest boasts a second connection to the map. Evreux, France in Normandy derived its name from the Gaulish tribe that settled the area. The tribe’s name was derived from their word for yew tree. French history includes the comtes d’Évreux from the tenth century onward. It’s also a familiar locale because the US Air Force used Évreux-Fauville Air Base into the 1960s.
But back to the mountain. Scaling Mount Everest is no small feat, and many have perished in the attempt. Books and movies, as well as counltess newspaper articles, have chronicled these tales. Jon Krakauer scored a New York Times bestseller in 1996 with Into Thin Air. The Discovery Channel turned the trips offered by one company into a reality TV series in 2006 and 2007. Disney World unveiled Expedition Everest at their Animal Kingdom theme park in 2006. It’s a thrill ride, but with a more fantastic bent – they’ve work a Yeti into their coaster, one of the few perils not reported by climbers.
But never mind the Yetis and forget wounded national pride. Everest succeeds circa 2010 simply because he’s so on point with current trends. That -v sound, his three-syllable rhythm, his surname status. Parents disappointed to learn that River is no longer rare will find Everest a likely substitute. While he’s yet to appear in the US Top 1000, Nancy tells us that 36 newborn Everests arrived in the US in 2009.
I suppose a little girl could wear Everest – the nickname Evie is obvious – but there’s something solidly rugged and masculine about this mountainous appellation.