There’s a new baby in town, and she comes with a brand new name.
With congratulations to NBC News journalist Savannah Guthrie and Michael Feldman, our Baby Name of the Day is Vale.
Vale: Novel Word Name
Vale has so little history as a given name that we’ll have to start with the word instead. There’s plenty of reason to imagine Vale – and Vail and maybe even Veil – making the leap from dictionary to birth certificate.
Vale is an archaic – and poetic – way to refer to a valley, from the Latin vallem.
Speaking of archaic, vale had a second meaning – farewell, as in the Latin valere – be well, which was used as a parting phrase. A valediction is a formal address of farewell, something like a benediction, but without the religious overtones.
Valere also leads to valiant, and Valor – another word recently borrowed for a name. In this case, valere means to be strong. Mix in some French influence, and you have valiant.
While we’re talking valere – it ultimately gives us the names Valerius, Valeria, and Valerie.
Whip smart girl reporter Vicki Vale almost uncovered Batman’s secret identity in comics back in the 1960,- and in the 1989 movie version, with Kim Basinger in the iconic role.
From Vale to Vail …
Actress Vail Bloom has appeared on the small screen over the years, including a stint on The Young and the Restless, for which she earned a daytime Emmy nomination.
Vail is also a town – and a ski resort – in Colorado. They take their name from Vail Pass, named for Charles Vail, the engineer who routed the highway through the area in the 1940s. The photo is from the Colorado location.
As a surname, Vail could link back to Paul, via the Scottish Macphail, son of Paul, which sometimes became Mcvail.
Wait, there’s more – Vail can also mean worth, which ties this spelling back to vale, via an outdated meaning for the word valor.
How ’bout Veil?
Then there’s veil, from the Latin velum – a sail or cloth. It was first used to refer to the head-covering worn by a nun. It can now refer to nearly any head covering worn by a woman – to be veiled is to be concealed, though in some cases – like a bridal veil, they’ve become symbolic rather than functional.
Which reminds me – I long thought the phrase was “veil of tears” – sadness that obscures your face. But no. It’s a vale of tears – a valley of sorrow. Not the most appealing meaning, but one more for the list …
Vale: A Friend for Ava & Vivienne
Leaving aside the list of all the ways that Vale can be read, let’s consider her sound:
- V is one of those high-value Scrabble letters so in favor right now. Vale will fit right in with kids called Xander, Vivienne, and Zoe.
- Oh, that bright long ‘a’ sound, shared by Mason and Ava and Abigail!
- Short, single-syllable names for girls are quite stylish, from classics like Jane and Claire to newcomers like Sloane and Wren.
But it’s Wren that points to Vale’s most compelling characteristic. She’s a nature name, through and through, a little bit green and leafy, but still tailored. Take Lily and Violet, mix in a healthy dose of Madison and Avery, simmer and reduce.
Vale also follows in the footsteps of Brooke, a wildly successful twentieth century innovation. Brooke ranked in the US Top 100 most years between 1979 and 2011.
Overall, it is a daring choice for the Guthrie-Feldmans, but a delightfully on-trend one, too. And while Vale and Vail are rarer than rare – 8 girls were named Vail in 2013, and fewer than 5 were called Vale – here’s guessing that we’ll hear more of both in the years to come.
What do you think of Vale? Do you prefer Vale or Vail? Do you think we’ll hear more of this name in the coming years?