Ava is white hot. Eve is gaining fast. Plenty of parents are seeking similar-but-not-the-same variants of both.
Here’s an elaboration that just might fit the bill. Thanks to Laney McDonald for suggesting Evelina as Name of the Day.
Evelina might bring to mind an eighteenth century novel. Frances Burney’s 1778 Evelina: Or, the History of a Young Lady’s Entrance into the World is the tale of an aristocrat’s illegitimate daughter, raised in the country. Burney’s heroine is beautiful, wise and good. The story ends happily, with Evelina marrying an earl who is handsome, wise and good.
While Evelina isn’t a household name, the novel remains in print. And the work is said to have inspired other enduring favorites, like Jane Austen’s Emma.
The name was still in use in nineteenth century America, but she hasn’t ranked in the US Top 1000 since 1908. Today she’s likely to be viewed as an elaboration of Eve. That’s a valid perspective, but there’s more to her.
- The Biblical Eve comes from the Hebrew chavva – to breathe – or chaya – to live;
- Eva is a Latinate form of Eve;
- Ava is sometimes listed as variant of Eve/Eva, or may come from the Germanic element avi – lively;
- The Germanic rarity Avila – also probably derived from avi – became slightly more common in honor of the sixteenth century Spanish Saint Teresa of Ávila;
- Aveline and Avelina probably started out as diminutives of Avila. Aveline was in use in England following the Norman invasion – I found a handful in the historical record, from circa 1090 and 1165;
- Alternately, Aveline could be related to Avice or Aveza often connected to avi, but with the added connection to Avis – the Latin for bird;
- Others link Aveline to Gaelic names or the French word for hazelnut;
- Evelina emerged as a Latinized version of Aveline.
Evelyn is also a member of this sorority – only this one started out as a surname version of Aveline and company, and was mainly bestowed on boys from the 1600s right up into the late 19th century. (Think novelist Evelyn Waugh.) In 1910, she peaked at #10 for girls born in the US – and appears to be headed in that direction again.
Medieval variants include Avilina and Avelyn. It’s easy to imagine both of those, as well as Evalyn and Evalina, in use today.
While the meaning is elusive, the possibilities are uniformly positive.
Similar names currently in the US Top 1000 include:
- Ava (#5)
- Avery (#38)
- Evelyn (#54)
- Eva (#114)
- Evangline (#450)
- Eve (#655)
- Averie (#768)
- Evelin (#811)
- Evie (#853)
- Averi (#966)
- Avah (#972)
And don’t forget rarities like Evadne, or boys’ choices like Evan.
All this makes for Evelina’s only real flaw. She’s graceful and literary – a gentle antique right at home with Isabella and Sophia. But her sound can’t be considered distinctive. You’ll be forever correcting the spelling.
On the other hand, that could be the very reason for her appeal. If you love Ava but want something just a smidge different, Evelina is a more sophisticated choice than, say, spelling it Ayvah.
With an appealing literary heroine, a bunch of related names with appealing meanings and the oh-so-current vowel-plus-v sound, Evelina is certainly one to consider.
Still looking for the origin and meaning fir the way i spell my daughters name.. Evalinn
Hmmm … where did you first see the spelling Evalinn suggested? There’s really no reason to think Evalinn is anything other than a respelling of Evelyn/Evalyn. Though I suppose you could see her as a smoosh name: Eva plus Linn. Linn has lots of possible origins: from the Welsh Lynn, meaning lake, or as a short form of any of dozens of names, Caroline or Linnea or Linda to name just a few.
Evelina and Evelyn are pretty, but I love the Irish variations.
I have seen Aveline used by Irish families for the Irish Aibhlinn or Aibhilin. It is pronounced “ave + leen” or “ava + leen” and was previously anglicized as Eveleen, Eveline, or Evelyn. It is thought to have Norman roots that means “wished-for” or “longed-for child.”
Eibhleann, Eibhlin “ave + linn” or “eve + linn” was often written as Eileen, Elaine or Evelyn. It is from aoibheann meaning “pleasant, beautiful, radiant.” “Eibhlin a Ruan” was a 17th century love-song composed by the harpist Cearbhall O’Dalaigh who used it to persuade his beloved to elope with him on her wedding day and it is still a popular piece of music at Irish weddings. Hear Frank McCourt pronounce them by visiting http://www.babynamesofireland.com
I just read the introduction to Mansfied Park which references Evelina and I immediately took to the internet to research this romantic gem. I am kind of amazed by the serendipity of this entry, written just a few days ago. Other Burney heroines include Cecilia and Camilla. I am smitten!
I adore Aveline. Avila is a cool saintly alternative. Evelina is nice. Growing up in a Polish community, there were quite a few of them, though spelled Ewalina. Many of them translated their names to Evelyn though. I am surprised that Evelina is not in the top 1000, I had always assumed that she would be lurking in there somewhere. She really is a nice alternative to overused Ava.
Christina Fonseca says
I love Evelina. While the attraction for others may be because of the “v”, for me it’s all about the -ina ending. It’s a great 4-syllable name that would pair so well with a surname on the shorter side. Awesome choice!
I considered Evalina as an alternative to Evelyn, but I landed on Evalin in honour of my teacher of three years who was the most amazing person I have ever come across, and my ultimate role model as a teacher and just as a human being in general… Her name was Eva Linn, but I prefer Evalin in one word for some reason… I guess it’s so I can still use another middle, or else my little Eva Linn would feel very left out alongside siblings with names like Hadrian Leander or Phaedra Winter ^^
Ooooh, I love your kids’ names! What middle names are you considering for Evalin?
Thank you! I’m glad you like them!! They’re not actually my kids yet (I’m only 19), but I’d love for them to be called that in the future… I was really just making an example, but I know I sound like I already had them ^^
I’m not sure what middle to use for Evalin, but I’ve been thinking about Briar lately, or maybe something more upbeat, like Mercy 🙂 I had actually thought of Sparrow, but in light of recent events I’m reviewing my options…
Ahhh, I understand. Sorry for the assumption :o) Hopefully your eventual kids’ father will let you use those names!
I admit to being a sucker for the increasingly popular Eve and Ava variants. Evangeline is my personal favourite, but Evelyn is a close second. The “ina” aspect of this name makes it a little too Tinkerbell-ish for my taste, but it’s definitely got a timeless charm and romantic appeal.