Editor’s note: This post was originally published on November 13, 2008. It was substantially revised and re-posted on February 17, 2014.
She’s an elaborate, literary, romantic name for a daughter.
Thanks to Corinne for suggesting our Name of the Day: Evangeline.
Back in 1847, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow penned a tragic tale of young love gone wrong, giving his Juliet an appropriately dramatic name: fairest of all maids was 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.
Then again, Saints Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are referred to as evangelists. Evangeline Booth was General of the Salvation Army in the 1930s. Add it up, and Evangeline leans spiritual.
She also fills a tiny bit Southern, maybe because many of the Acadian refuges eventually settled in Louisiana.
Evangeline is also a vintage, antique, name with an elaborate, lacy vibe. Popular choices like Olivia and Charlotte, Alexandra, and Madeline sound like her sisters.
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.
I’m an Evangeline with a younger sister Olivia, so your note about sisterly names was spot on!!
My husband liked Evangeline above Genevieve, which is what it seemed like we were going to name our baby most of the time. It took a bit to grow on me but I like it. I came across it b/c an online friend had an Evangeline, and because I kept seeing it pop up on a name board…and it reminded me of the word evangelical. So I wasn’t sure about it at first, but a lot of people said they didn’t even connect it with anything religious. I love that it has so many nickname options and that she can choose what she’d like to go by, or if she’d just like to go by Evangeline! 🙂
I love this name. My hubby and I want to name our second daughter Evangeline and possibly use my first name Brittany as her middle name. Evangeline Brittany.. it sounds good, a bit long though. We have a daughter name Arianna so I think the two is a great sibling set!
Coming back to add – our daughter is turning 3 this year an her name is Evangeline Lily (yes the same middle as the actress – but it goes so well together, plus Lily is an easter flower) – she was born at christmas – thus our ‘good news’ baby. We use the nickname ‘Evie’ also. Love love the name. If I have another girl, really want to use Genevieve or Guinevere, but dying that they both cant have the same nickname. 🙁
I knew an Evangeline whose nickname was Vangie.
You’re missing Mathew Sweet’s rock song of the same name. 🙂
I know this is rather late in the game, but the kids wanted to watch Princess and the Frog today, and that got me thinking about Evangeline. In the movie, she is the name given to the brightest star in the sky. The firefly, Ray, is in love with her, and sings a beautiful song called Evangeline. “Look how she lights up the sky, my belle Evangeline. So far above me, yet I know her heart belongs to only me.” That song, and the thought of getting to sing it to a sweet, sleeping baby girl, makes me love Evangeline enough to use it despite my no-names-longer-than-nine-letters rule. And I do have an Annabel, so…. 🙂
Oops. It’s actually called Ma Belle Evangeline.
“Her dual French/English heritage gives rise to at least two equally valid pronunciations: eh VAN jeh leen and ee van JEH line.”
Just wanted to note that in Southern Louisiana, where the name has long been a traditional name, the locals pronounce it “eh-VAN-juh-linn” — not lyne or leen. Evangeline Parish is pronounced that way, as is Evangeline St. in Baton Rouge and Evangeline Dr. in Lafayette.
Our daughter Evangeline was born when we lived in Baton Rouge, so we adopted the traditional local pronunciation. Our Cajun friends loved it, but were surprised by it as well — it’s kind of seen as an “old lady” name in the area, since there are so many grandmas and great aunts with the name!
We named our now 9-month old baby girl Evangeline Isobel. My husband and I met in New Orleans, Louisiana and wanted a name that was evocative of the place. We loved the sound and history of Evangeline, and adore the nickname Evie. When she’s older, she’ll have so options to go by.
We just settled on our daughter’s name! (She’s due in May).
Evangeline Mae, nn of Evie. 🙂
Ok, so she ended up Evangeline Kathryn (put together = pure good news!), and she was born on Easter!
What a great name with a fabulous meaning! Evangeline Mae is actually on my list!
In 1996 we named our middle child Evangaline – her elder sister is Grace and younger is Jemina – she was called Evie
I love-love-love those names!
Evangeline, one of my favorite names, is a prominant and famous character from Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” In that book, she is nicknamed Eva or Little Eva.
Good nicknames for this name include Eva, Evie, and just Eve, my personal favorite.
pretty sound.. I tend to like frilly names. Usually a I like the full name rather than a nickname (or rather, I like having the option to use a nickname, but not so much that no one ever hears the full name), but if this were my name I think I’d like to be called Eve or Evie sometimes.. but not Vangie.
Emmy Jo says
About four years ago, a woman at my church named her daughter Evangeline — at the time, I thought it was ugly and awkward. Over the last couple years, though, I’ve grown to love it. There are very few names that are a good substitute for Elizabeth in the middle slot, but Evangeline has the same rhythm, the same beginning sound, and a consonant ending (like Elizabeth). I think that’s what first attracted me to it. Of course, discovering its literary connections certainly helped as well.
Natalie, you’re right – she’s Nicole Evangeline Lilly. Lucky she had such a great middle name to use!
I far prefer Evangeline to Evelyn (#55 as of 2007). Eva alone is #117 and Eve #618. I like both of them just fine, especially with a longer surname, but Eva would be confused with Ava forever and ever. But Evelyn I just don’t get – honestly, I’m not a huge fan of any -lyn names, though I like the -lines just fine.
Evangeline is also the name of a town in Louisiana whose flooding was immortalized in Randy Newman’s song “Louisiana 1927,” which took on new resonance (and frequent performances) in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. See this article for more info: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/27/arts/music/27hime.html
I really like Evangeline even though i am not remotely religious.
I think like rockingfetal said, it came to my attention because of “Lost” but Evangeline is not the actress’ given name: i think it is her middle?
Anyhow yes i like it but would never use it.
Charlotte Vera says
Yes, it is her middle name. Her given name is Nicole, which is what most of her friends called her before her rise to fame.
I read Evangeline as a teen (required reading can sometimes be interesting!) and decided then that the name’s overly religious feel was not for me. I do like her, just for someone else. I like her lush feel and her lovely sound. I also like her Acadian roots. I like all thing Cajun/Acadian. Especially their music. Awesome stuff. Reminds me of the upbeat Polkas my mom loved so. But most Cajun music isn’t quite so relentlessly cheerful, which is why I prefer it.
I’m actually applauding her ascent. I’d much rather see Evangeline in the top 20 (and her it far more than I do) than several of the names already there (that shall remain nameless). I see a lot of potential Eva likers turning to Evangeline as a “longer” form, not that I think one is needed. But I do like Evangeline. She’s lovely. Just, not for me.
I really like(d) Evangeline. I considered her mostly for a mn name, but ultimately had to scrap her because of my ln. She’s also more frilly than my usual choices. I feel over it now, but she’s still nice. I adore nn Evie. I don’t like how quickly she has shot up. It first came to my attention because of Lost, which I imagine is the case for countless other people.