American Names · Classic, Old, and Traditional Names

Elegant Edward, the Not-So-Sparkly

Tapisserie de Bayeux - Scène 1 : le roi Édouard le Confesseur
King Edward the Confessor, as depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry with Harold Godwinson

Long before Twilight imprinted the image of vampires upon us, Edward was (and still is) a classic, royal English name.  With Anglo-Saxon origins, it is one of the oldest native names in the English-language lexicon.  Respectively, its roots ead and weard mean something like “wealth” and “guard.”  A fitting name then, for the countless nobles and kings who’ve borne the name over the centuries.  Edward is also one of the few names to have been one of the top 1000 American names every year since 1880 – the earliest year for which the Social Security Administration provides its birth/name data.  It is also one of the few Anglo-Saxon names to have survived the Norman Conquest of 1066Supposedly, this is because of high-regard for St. Edward the Confessor, the king who pledged his throne to William I.  Though, for some reason the nomenclature for kings Edward I-VIII only includes the kings post-Conquest.

I was introduced to this name through Jane Austen, not Stephenie Meyer.  I was six or seven when the Harry Potter movies came out, and at some point Alan Rickman (may he rest in peace) became one of my favorite actors because I distinctly remember repeatedly watching the 1995 film rendition of Sense and Sensibility to catch yet another glimpse of the man who played Severus Snape.  However, Hugh Grant played another romantic interest – Edward Ferrars.  That entire movie instilled me with a love for classic, English names like Margaret, yet no name from that story captured my mind the way Edward did.   To be fair, Hugh Grant does tend to play the heartthrob.  Years later, I became a fan of another Edward – Edward Fairfax Rochester, love interest of the eponymous Jane Eyre.

The Twilight character Edward Cullen makes me less likely to use the name, honestly.  I don’t hate Twilight.  I have issues with the series, but in fact I like many of the names Ms. Meyer named her characters, and am glad her series brought a few old-fashioned names like Rosalie and Jasper back into relative popularity.  What I dislike is the way so many people now associate the name Edward primarily with glittery vampires.  Edward did increase in popularity briefly after Twilight was filmed, but now I think the series might ultimately be helping its usage decline in the long-run.  

If you have difficulty getting past the vampire associations, there are other “Ed” names that you can consider.  Edmund, Edgar, Edric, and Edwin are all good choices.  But if sparkles don’t deter you, reclaim Edward!

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