Ever since Xanthe received such a warm welcome, we’ve been thinking about a similar mythological moniker long on our radar.
Today’s Name of the Day is Evadne.
After years of hibernation, Eve returned to the US Top 1000, ranking #618 last year. Eva comes in at an impressive #117. And the elaborate Evangeline re-entered the charts in 2006, reaching #459 in 2007. Factor in Evie (#806) and Evelyn (a white hot #55), and it is safe to say that the Eves are back.
Evadne, usually pronounced eh VAD nee, offers an interesting twist. While the name has never ranked in the US and is equally rare worldwide, the nickname options Eve, Evie and Eva allow this unusual moniker to blend in on the playground.
While Eve is likely derived from a Hebrew word for life (chayah) or breath (chavah), most of the other Ev- names trace back to the Greek element eu-, for good. There’s no consensus on the full meaning of Evadne, but neither of the mythological bearers of the name had a pleasant time of it.
The first Evadne was married to the arrogant warrior Capaneus. Her husband ran afoul of Zeus and met his death by thunderbolt. Grief stricken, Evadne threw herself onto his burning body and they perished together. Points for loyalty, we suppose.
The second was Poseidon’s daughter. Unhappily pregnant by Apollo, she abandoned their son, Iamus. Legend has it that he survived and founded a priestly order known as the Iamidae; they’d eventually become responsible for organizing the ancient Olympic games. This Evadne might be a bit tougher to redeem, but she’s undeniably obscure – it’s not quite like naming your daughter Medea.
We first tripped across Evadne in the original episode of 70s television show Wonder Woman. Evadne was Diana’s cousin, who lost out to her in the bid to be the next heroine from Paradise Island.
Despite her shortcomings in myth, there is a strong literary and even feminist undercurrent to the name:
- Evadne Price penned the 1930 anti-war novel Not So Quiet: Stepdaughters of War; however, she is better known by the pen name Helen Zenna Smith;
- Gilbert Adair writes sophisticated Agatha Christie-style mysteries featuring brainy lady detective Evadne Mount;
- In the 1890s, Sarah Grand’s anti-marriage protest novel The Heavenly Twins featured Evadne Frayling;
- Richard Lalor Scheil’s 1819 drama Evadne was a loose adaptation of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, with Evadne in the role of Hero – a woman wrongly accused of infidelity;
- In 1619, Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher used the name for a character in their play, The Maid’s Tragedy. The piece was performed by the King’s Men, most famous as the troupe to which William Shakespeare had belonged.
We do find Evadne in the historical record in the late 1800s in England, but we’re not confident that it was a common choice. Instead, we suspect that then – as now – Eve names were popular. Along with Evadne, we find Evia, Evalyn, Evelyn, Evalina and Evangeline.
With Zoe and Chloe all the rage today, it seems like Greek names for girls could be big. This one also boasts an intriguing Victorian-era vibe and associations with a popular element in many mainstream girls’ names.
If you’re hoping to stand out while still fitting in, Evadne might be the choice for you.