Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Harvey

Harvey is an old Breton/Celtic name originally rendered as Haerviu in the Middle Ages. The name means “battle worthy” from the Celtic elements “hær” (battle) and “viu” (worthy). The name was brought to England by 11th century settlers from Brittany after the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Bretons (like the Welsh and Cornish) are from the Brythonic branch of Celtic people while the Irish and Scottish are from the Gaelic. The Bretons were early inhabitants of Britain before many crossed the English Channel over to Brittany (a region named after them in northwestern France) in order to escape the invading Anglo-Saxons of the 5th century. The name Haerviu or Hervé gained a following among Bretons in the 6th century thanks to Saint Hervé (521-556), one of Brittany’s most revered saints. Born into an aristocratic family and blind from birth, Haerviu chose a life of isolated contemplation as a hermit and poet. He built an abbey in Brittany and was considered a miracle worker (especially when it came to animals). Saint Hervé is most often depicted with his companion, a wolf, and his feast day is June 17. The Breton’s introduced the name to the English centuries later but its usage became rare later on in the Middle Ages. It wasn’t until the 19th century that Harvey was resurrected in England again. Today, Harvey does remarkably well in England/Wales (the 47th most popular boy’s name in 2011), and it’s a Top 100 in Northern Ireland. In the United States, however, Harvey has fallen far from fashion.

All About the Baby Name – Harvey

Personality

OF THE BOY NAME HARVEY

The number Seven personality is deeply mystical and highly in tune with their spirituality. They operate on a different wavelength than the average joe. Spending time alone comes easily to Sevens, as it gives them time to contemplate philosophical, religious and spiritual ideas in an effort to find "real truth".  Sevens are wise, but often exude mystery as if they are tapped into something the rest of us don't understand. They love the outdoors and are fed by nature. Sevens are constantly seeking to understand human nature, our place in the universe, and the mystery of life in general. This makes them quite artistic and poetic, but they are also keen observers with high intellect - so they are equally scientific-minded. Sevens are charitable and care deeply about the human condition.

Popularity

OF THE BOY NAME HARVEY

Harvey was a consistently popular and relatively high-ranking name in the 19th century up through a good part of the 20th century here in the United States. It was around the early 1940s that Harvey would finally lose a position on the Top 100 list of most favorite boy names in America. After that, the name saw a slow and steady descent into non-usage, a drop on the charts which accelerated more significantly in the 1990s. By 1998 Harvey was officially passé when the name fell off the Top 1000 list. It seemed he was headed for permanent retirement until he resurfaced in 2011. As mentioned above, Harvey sees impressive usage in England and Northern Ireland, so maybe Americans are taking a second look. Yes, Harvey is old fashioned and outdated by U.S. standards – but he may have become so uncool that he’s turning cool again. If American parents are embracing Henry and Harry again, why not Harvey? If there's one thing we know, this little guy is "battle worthy".

Quick Facts

ON HARVEY

GENDER:

Boy

ORIGIN:

Celtic

NUMBER OF SYLLABLES:

2

RANKING POPULARITY:

616

PRONUNCIATION:

HAHR-vee

SIMPLE MEANING:

Battle worthy

Characteristics

OF HARVEY

Mystical

Wise

Eccentric

Intuitive

Imaginative

Philosophical

Solitary

Cultural References to the Baby Name – Harvey

Literary Characters

OF THE BABY NAME HARVEY

Harvey is the marvelous anthropomorphic big bunny friend of the mild-mannered Elwood P. Dowd in Mary Chase’s Pulitzer Prize winning 1944 play, also made into a memorable movie in 1950 with James Stewart as Dowd. Elwood “used to be smart”, but now he’s chosen another path, one that is much more rewarding for him. Harvey may or may not be imaginary; when Dowd is on the verge of being institutionalized for his “belief”, the admitting doctor himself has his own encounter with Harvey. What we do know about Harvey is that he likes to stop for a beer with Elwood at Charlie’s Place or Eddie’s Bar, where they find a constant string of new friends. What Harvey has to tell us is that we have choices; we can doggedly plod away at and contend with grim reality – or – we can opt to choose always from the bright side – we can choose Harvey.

Popular Songs

ON HARVEY

Harvey the Wonder Hamster
a song by Weird Al Yankovic

Harvey
a song by Ambrosia

Famous People

NAMED HARVEY

Harvey Cushing (“father of neurosurgery”)
Harvey Firestone (founder of the Firestone Tire Co.)
Harvey Keitel (actor)
Harvey Korman (comedic actor)
Harvey Kurtzman (cartoonist)
Harvey Martin (football player)
Harvey Milk, (one of the first openly gay politicians, assassinated SF supervisor)
Saint Hervé (Saint Harvey, 6th century Breton saint)
Lee Harvey Oswald (assassin of President JFK)

Children of Famous People

NAMED HARVEY

We cannot find any children of famous people with the first name Harvey

Historic Figures

WITH THE NAME HARVEY

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