Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Edward

The name Edward is one of the oldest English given names of Saxon origin and thus dates back to before the Norman Conquest (1066). The Norman Conquest brought about a radical change in naming practices in England, and many of the Old Saxon and Celtic names quickly fell out of fashion. Names like Cuthbert, Ethelred and Beowulf disappeared. But there are a few survivors (such as Alfred, Edgar and Harold). Edward (originally Ēadweard in Old England) is probably the most successful, most enduring and most widely used of them all. Edward comes from the Olde English words “ēad” meaning ‘prosperity, riches’ and “weard” meaning ‘guard’ so the name essentially means ‘Guard of Riches.’ The name has been borne by several English kings, most notably Edward the Confessor who was the last reigning king before the Norman Conquest and known for his fairness and piety. The endurance of the name’s use post-Normans probably had a lot to do with the universal appeal of this Edward (the Normans admired him, too). The name is an English staple and maintains a spot on England’s Top 50 list of most used boys’ names. It’s still a Top 100 down-under in Australia, but for the rest of the English speaking nations, Edward has more recently fallen off the Top 100.

All About the Baby Name – Edward

Personality

OF THE BOY NAME EDWARD

The number one personality is a leader - strong and competitive. They are willing to initiate action and take risks. One personalities work hard toward their endeavors and have the ability to apply their creative and innovative thinking skills with strong determination. They believe in their ability to succeed and are too stubborn to be hindered by obstacles. Ones meet obstacles head-on with such mental vigor and energy that you better step aside. They resent taking orders, so don't try telling them what to do either. This is an intensely active personality, but they are also known as starters rather than finishers. They have a propensity to become bored and will move quickly to the next project if not properly challenged.  They are the ones to think up and put into action new and brilliant ideas, but they are not the ones to stick around and manage them. This personality has an enthusiastic and pioneering spirit. They are distinctly original.

Popularity

OF THE BOY NAME EDWARD

Edward has been on the U.S. popularity charts since the government began tracking naming trends back in 1880. Obviously, it’s been in existence far before that in the United States. However, as far back as data became available, Edward was a top choice for a boy’s name. At the turn of the 20th century, the name was pretty much a Top 10 until the 1930s. Between the 30s and the 80s, Edward maintains a position on the Top 50 list of most-favored boys’ names. It’s not until 1998 that Edward falls off the Top 100 list for the first time in its history on the American charts. We don’t expect Edward to venture too far down the list, though, because the name is just such a standard and always has been. It seems, though, that Edward hints to being a little old-fashioned these days; perhaps a bit awkward and clunky when compared to some of its other “kingly” English counterparts (Henry, James, Richard). It apparently doesn’t have the same antique charm as, say, Henry. Whatever the reason for its recent decline on the charts, Edward is still a classical choice. It has a certain English royalty and erudite resonance. It’s just one of those names you can’t go wrong with.

Quick Facts

ON EDWARD

GENDER:

Boy

ORIGIN:

English

NUMBER OF SYLLABLES:

2

RANKING POPULARITY:

145

PRONUNCIATION:

EHD-werd

SIMPLE MEANING:

Guard of Riches, Protector of Wealth

Characteristics

OF EDWARD

Independent

Individualistic

Ambitious

Strong-willed

Inventive

Successful

Cultural References to the Baby Name – Edward

Literary Characters

OF THE BABY NAME EDWARD

Edward Cullen is the young vampire in the Stephenie Myers’ extremely popular Vampire series. As portrayed by Robert Pattinson in the movie versions, he is every teen age girl’s heartthrob. The series revolve around Edward’s love for the mortal Bella Swan and hers for him. Although he is a “vegetarian” vampire, i.e., one who eschews human blood, he nonetheless worries for Bella’s safety in her association with him. He is good and true, and it is his burden to futilely wish for humanity in order to truly be with Bella.

Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte’s 1847 novel, is one of the most well-known books of all time, and its hero, Edward Rochester, a paragon of romantic Victorian manhood. The master of Thornfield Hall and guardian of Adele, to whom Jane is governess, he is not particularly handsome, but he is worldly and intelligent, and has led a rather unconventional life by the time Jane meets him. He falls in love with the intelligent and independent Jane, but their marriage is thwarted by the revelation of the existence of his insane first wife, Bertha. Jane refuses to live with him as his mistress and goes her own way. After many Gothic plot twists, Edward and Jane are reunited after he risks his life trying, unsuccessfully, to save Bertha in the fire that destroys their house. Though blinded in the fire, he is able to recover enough sight to look upon the son Jane bears him.

In Jane Austen’s first published novel (1811), Sense and Sensibility, when Mr. Dashwood dies, his estate passes to the son of his first wife. The second Mrs. Dashwood and her three daughters, Elinor, Marianne and Margaret, are obliged to move out to smaller quarters on a distant relative’s property. The elder son’s wife, Fanny, has a brother, Edward Ferrars. Before the younger Dashwoods repair to the country, he visits his sister at the old Dashwood home. Edward is an intelligent and likeable young gentleman, and Elinor is immediately attracted to him. He is also very reserved, however, and the nature of his feelings for her are not at first clear. His sister Fanny, of course, makes no bones about announcing to the Dashwoods how important it is for Edward to marry within his own rank and social standing. Poor Edward! He has to work around the complications of an overbearing mother, a bossy sister, a money grubbing brother and a golddigging secret fiancé before he is allowed to have his heart’s desire and marry Elinor. But he does it all, and aren’t we relieved in the end!

Edward Hyde is Mr. Hyde (the bad side) in Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1886 novella, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. When Dr. Jekyll, a physician, self-administers a potion that probes his very soul, the vile Edward Hyde emerges, a creature who is base and wicked. An allegory of the nature of Good and Evil and the duality of human nature, it is not so much a condemnation of that state of affairs as an understanding of the struggle of people to balance the bad and the good, and the consequences of the constant repression of instincts that are better brought to light. Henry Jekyll is actually indulging in the oldest of man’s endeavors: the wish to taste of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, but Edward Hyde is an inevitable result. And let this be the moral to anyone experimenting with one’s own little potions – it is the Edward Hyde side that triumphs.

Popular Songs

ON EDWARD

Edward the Bear
a song by The Damned

Poor Edward
a song by Tom Waits

Famous People

NAMED EDWARD

Prince Edward (British royalty)
Edward Kennedy (politician)
Edward Norton (actor)
Edward Burns (actor/director)
Edward B. Lewis (Nobel Prize Winner for Medicine)
Edward C. Prescott (Nobel Prize Winner for Economics)
Edward Hopper (painter)
Edward V. Appleton (Nobel Prize Winner, Physics)
Edward Doisy (Nobel Prize Winner, Medicine)
Edward Heath (former Prime Minister of the U.K.)
Edward Calvin Kendall (Nobel Prize Winner, Medicine)
Edward M. Purcell (Nobel Prize Winner, Physics)
Edward Shore (hockey player)
Edward Snider (hockey player)
Edward Lawrie Tatum (Nobel Prize Winner, Medicine)
Prince Edward (British royalty)
Edward Kennedy (politician)
Edward Norton (actor)
Edward Burns (actor/director)
Edward B. Lewis (Nobel Prize Winner for Medicine)
Edward C. Prescott (Nobel Prize Winner for Economics)
Edward Hopper (painter)
Edward V. Appleton (Nobel Prize Winner, Physics)
Edward Doisy (Nobel Prize Winner, Medicine)
Edward Heath (former Prime Minister of the U.K.)
Edward Calvin Kendall (Nobel Prize Winner, Medicine)
Edward M. Purcell (Nobel Prize Winner, Physics)
Edward Shore (hockey player)
Edward Snider (hockey player)
Edward Lawrie Tatum (Nobel Prize Winner, Medicine)
Prince Edward (British royalty)
Edward Kennedy (politician)
Edward Norton (actor)
Edward Burns (actor/director)
Edward Estlin Cummings (aka e.e. cummings, poet)
Edward B. Lewis (Nobel Prize Winner for Medicine)
Edward C. Prescott (Nobel Prize Winner for Economics)
Edward Hopper (painter)
Edward V. Appleton (Nobel Prize Winner, Physics)
Edward Doisy (Nobel Prize Winner, Medicine)
Edward Heath (former Prime Minister of the U.K.)
Edward Calvin Kendall (Nobel Prize Winner, Medicine)
Edward M. Purcell (Nobel Prize Winner, Physics)
Edward Shore (hockey player)
Edward Snider (hockey player)
Edward Lawrie Tatum (Nobel Prize Winner, Medicine)

Children of Famous People

NAMED EDWARD

Giuliana and Bill Rancic;

Historic Figures

WITH THE NAME EDWARD

We cannot find any historically significant people with the first name Edward