She’s an elaborate, literary, romantic name for a daughter.
Thanks to Corinne for suggesting our Name of the Day: Evangeline.
His epic poem was subtitled A Tale of Acadie, and Longfellow set his story against the very real events of the Acadian Explusion. The British were nervous about the French-speaking population of Nova Scotia, and after decades of tension and conflict, the governor forced them to leave in 1755.
Longfellow’s Evangeline was separated from her beau, Gabriel, during the upheaval and they spend the rest of their days searching for one another. When they are finally reunited, Evangeline is an aged nun caring for the poor. Gabriel is one of the unfortunates she nurses.
It’s all very tragic, but Evangeline means good news, from the Greek eu – good – and angelion – message.
Today, Evangeline feels like a very spiritual name, but the term “evangelical Christian” was coined nearly a century after the name was created.
She also fills a tiny bit Southern, maybe because many of the Acadian refuges eventually settled in Louisiana.
I’ve heard her pronounced eh VAN jeh leen and ee van JEH line, and even sometimes eh VAN jeh lin.
Two small screen Evangelines helped to boost the name:
- ABC’s One Life to Live featured a character called Evangeline Williamson from 2003 to 2007.
- Also on ABC, the drama Lost featured actress Evangeline Lilly playing Kate Austen.
The daytime-prime time double shot raised the name’s profile.
Or maybe it was just her moment for a comeback. Evangeline ranked in the US Top 1000 until 1966, peaking right around 1900.
In 2006, she re-entered the rankings, and charted at #292 in 2012.
Other uses of the name that boosted Evangeline included:
- Uncle Tom’s Cabin included a character by the name, though she usually answered to Eva.
- In Disney princess flick The Princess and the Frog, Evangeline is the name given to the evening star by the firefly, Ray.
- The fantasy film Nanny McPhee includes a lovely, loving housemaid named Evangeline.
- It’s been a favorite song title, too. Emmylou Harris used it for the title of a 1981 album. The song was originally recorded with The Band, and was also included in the 1976 concert film The Last Waltz. It’s another tale of heartbreak set in the South. A dozen other songs have shared the title.
- A 1919 silent film was based on the Longfellow poem, and a second silent film followed in 1929, this one starring Dolores Del Rio.
While Evangeline is a long, elaborate name, she’s nickname-rich: Eva, Evie, and Gigi all work nicely, and you could certainly be even more creative.
Her French style ties in nicely to our current passion for all things français. If Genevieve is taken, Evangeline is a nice alternative.
With her literary ties and lovely meaning, no wonder parents have embraced the name. Evangeline is a romantic possibly for parents after something just slightly different for a daughter.