Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Van

Van is the truncated form of Evan or Ivan (as well as Vance). Both Evan and Ivan are the Welsh and Russian forms of John, respectively, and so mean “God is gracious” (see the name John for more detail). Vance is the transferred use of an English surname with Anglo-Saxon roots. It comes from the Olde English “fenn” indicating a “marsh, fen” (a fen is an inland, low-lying marshland containing nutrient rich soil). As a topographical surname, Vance would have been assigned to a person dwelling near a marsh area. In earlier English dialects, the “f” and “v” sounds were interchangeable which is how Fenn eventually morphed into Vance. Aside from being a short form of these various other boy names, Van could also be considered a name associated with the Vietnamese people. Vân (雲) means “cloud” in Vietnamese and Văn (文) means “knowledge, culture” in Sino-Vietnamese (Chinese). Lastly, Van is the Dutch word for “of/descended from” used in surnames like Dutch born artist Vincent van Gogh and famed guitarist Eddie van Halen.

All About the Baby Name – Van

Personality

OF THE BOY NAME VAN

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 VAN

Surprisingly, Van has been on the U.S. charts since 1880 (the first year the government began tracking naming trends). This one feels much too modern to go back that far. In fact, Van was respectably popular back in the late 19th century and early 20th and saw a little jump in the 1940s thanks to a leading actor at the time named Van Heflin. The 1960s marked the beginning of Van’s slow and steady descent until he finally succumbed to obscurity in the 1990s. Van did recently reappear on the charts in 2005 but the name is pretty uncommon by today’s standards. Van’s recent resurrection to the charts may have had something to do with the sitcim “Reba” which featured a likable character named Van Montgomery played by actor Steve Howey.

Quick Facts

ON VAN

GENDER:

Boy

ORIGIN:

English

NUMBER OF SYLLABLES:

1

RANKING POPULARITY:

840

PRONUNCIATION:

VAN

SIMPLE MEANING:

Multiple possible meanings

Characteristics

OF VAN

Independent

Individualistic

Ambitious

Strong-willed

Inventive

Successful

Cultural References to the Baby Name – Van

Literary Characters

OF THE BABY NAME VAN

Serena Van Der Woodsen (Humphrey) is a major character in the Gossip Girl television series (where she is played by Blake Lively), itself adapted from the young adult series of novels . Serena is a privileged, pretty, independent and magnetic young woman who leads a charmed life. She is the on-again-off-again best friend of Blair Waldorf, as well as the on-again-off-again girlfriend of Dan Humphrey, who travels in a slightly lower class segment of their world. Serena’s unlikely but entertaining adventures take her from high school to college, from Manhattan to numerous locales abroad, and from modeling to marriage to murder, all while fashionably dressed in Tory Burch designs and the like. Some may ultimately call her vapid (cf. Janet Malcolm of The New Yorker for some snarky comments), but she is every teen-aged girl’s dream.

We cannot find any significant literary characters by the name of Van

Popular Songs

ON VAN

Van
a song by the Descendents

Susan Van Heusen
a song by Gilbert O'Sullivan

Famous People

NAMED VAN

Van Morrison (b. George Ivan Morrison, Northern Irish musician)
Van Cliburn (b. Harvey Lavan Cliburn, pianist)
Van Hansis (b. Evan Vanfossen Hansis, actor)
Van Heflin (actor)
Van Johnson (actor)
Van Nelson (American runner and Olympian)

Children of Famous People

NAMED VAN

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

Historic Figures

WITH THE NAME VAN

Vincent Van Gogh’s art work is among the most recognizable in all the world, and yet it’s ironic that he sold only one painting during his lifetime. Although his work barely got a chance to circulate since he cut his own life short at the age of 37 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, they would soon be discovered and admired for their intense emotion and vivid colors. Influenced by the impressionists after moving the France, Vincent produced his finest work in the last years of his life; works that departed from the conventions of the day. He suffered from mental illness which also likely influenced his work, and he is also known for cutting off a portion of this left earlobe (and giving it to a prostitute for safekeeping). Regardless of his own demons, Van Gogh gave the world some of the most important works of arts, including “The Starry Night”, his many self-portraits and those of flowers (irises and sunflowers). You don’t have to be a snobby art appreciator to understand the beauty of his works.