Irish Baby Name Translation

With the impending arrival of baby number 4, I never thought the name game would be this hard!  As it stands we have Connor, Gavin and Aiyla (changed the spelling from Isla) and we're looking for a Celtic / Irish sounding name, and we're ok playing around with the spelling but wanted to get input to make sure I'm not totally off base.

The name pronouncation that we love is Aiobhinn - pronounced Ee-veen.  It's the SOUND of the name that we love, not the spelling, as we will not use the tradtional spelling here in the States.  With that being said, here are a few spelling variations we have found, and I'm looking for thoughts or input.  

Name option 1:  Eaveen

Name option 2: Eveen

We would likely call her Evie, but her full name would be one of the options listed above.  Thanks for your kind thoughts and input.


May 8, 2017 12:02 PM

I think if you want the long E in the first syllable, your first option is your best bet. I think the second would be said with a short E ike Evan and Evelyn.

May 8, 2017 12:27 PM

I prefer the spelling Eveen. How about Eeveen?

May 8, 2017 12:39 PM

1. Thank you for not inflicting Irish spelling on us. I'm sure your daughter will be thankful eventually, too, but I'm just speaking for myself here. :) (I'm pretty sure Irish spelling was specifically designed to be as confusing as possible to English speakers.)

2. If you want the /ee/ sound in the first syllable, you'll need to do something like Eaveen or Eeveen. Your option 2 looks like it should be pronounced /eh-veen/.

May 8, 2017 1:37 PM

I agree with previous posters that the first spelling is more likely to get the "ee" sound at the beginning correct.


May 8, 2017 2:16 PM

While I agree that Eveen will get you a lot of "Eh-Veen" pronunciations, I am not sure that Eaveen will fare all that much better.  Looking at it, I get hung up trying to make sense of the "a" in it and would guess "Ay-Veen."

Eeveen or Eevene would be the clearest for pronunciation for me.  

May 8, 2017 2:31 PM

I agree that a double e at the beginning will be the clearest for pronunciation.  Eeveen looks a little odd with two double es, but i like the suggestion of Eevene.

May 8, 2017 4:25 PM

I second both of these points. I was going to vote Eveen because the a was confusing my pronunciation of Eaveen but I think people have a point that it might get a lot of Eh-veen. Having two Es at the start seems like a good soloution, and putting the n between the second double e stops it looking strange. Eevene gets my vote. (If you really dislike that then I'll still vote for Eveen, I think you'll get mistakes but you can correct people with a simple "no, it's EE-veen, like Eve)

May 8, 2017 4:36 PM

Eevene is a great suggestion - thanks for throwing that into the mix!  I'm still getting a bit caught up on the Ee, but another option is much appreciated!

May 8, 2017 4:07 PM

I would go for Eveen, perhaps because there's not that great a different between eh and ee in my accent, and even less so when I put on my best fake Irish accent. I feel that it may get mispronounced, but in a way that is easily corrected. Eaveen just looks confusing to me.

I also like the suggestion of Eevene, which manages to look elegant in a way that Eeveen does not.

You wouldn't be interested in Aoife? I feel like that one maintains the traditional spelling and yet is becoming known enough that many Americans could handle it...

May 8, 2017 4:38 PM

Aoife - yes, I do like that name, and you're right in that I think it's starting to gain a bit of traction here in the States, but with us already have a daughter with an A initial, we're looking to give this baby her "own letter" for lack of a better description.  Thanks for the suggestion!

May 9, 2017 10:17 AM

I agree that Eeveen or Eevene are your best bets to get the desired pronunciation. However, could I interest you in a slight variation? Two very similar names in Forvo are Aoibhinn and Aoibheann, and both of those are pronounced almost exactly like the word even. The closest pronunciation to Eee-veen on Forvo is for Aoibhín, but its second syllable still sounds more like -in rather than -een to me; it's just less of a schwa vowel than the pronunciations of the other two variants.

I think Even would be a very intuitive spelling, and has the bonus of looking more like a name in English than any of the double-e versions. (One of my brothers is an Evan, and still today he sometimes gets "even" at the doctor's office or Starbucks, so I think it's a word folks are used to pronouncing that way.)

Of course it is a word, which is maybe not what you want, but I think it's a fairly cool word—both "evening" and "level" seem like good associations. Behind the Name also lists the spelling Eavan as a variant, which I think works alright, and for the Aoibhín pronunciation you might be able to do something like Eevin.

May 9, 2017 10:41 AM

Wonderful insights to the proper pronouncations and sounds of the language - thank you so much for your advice and suggestions!  

By EVie
May 9, 2017 2:26 PM

This was exactly my reaction--I thought the name was pronounced more like "Even," rhymes with Steven. We had a poster a few years back who was considering the name, so it got a lot of discussion (PunkPrincessPhD, are you still out there somewhere?) I don't know enough about Irish names to say if the "een" pronunciation is an authentic variant, but I do trust PPP's pronunciation, as she was an Irish history scholar. 

Anyway, I like the "Even" pronunciation better, particularly in terms of spelling--I have a weird, probably irrational dislike of double ee (it just looks screechy to me), so two double ees in Eeveen kind of hurts my brain. If you do choose that pronunciation, my vote would be for Eavene. For the other pronunciation, I think Eaven would be my choice--I love the look of Even, and its alternate, very poetic meaning of "evening," but I think it practice it will be read as a misspelled Evan and need a lot of corrections. Eaven makes the pronunciation a bit clearer, as the combination "eav" for eev already exists in many English words like eaves, eavesdrops, leaves, reave, heave, beaver, weaver, et cetera. You might get AY-ven sometimes, but I think people will catch on quickly, especially if you give them a mnemonic ("Eaven, rhymes with Steven," or "Eaven, like eavesdrop"). 

May 9, 2017 9:10 PM

I feel the same way about ee! I even went as far as searching names containing the string ee to see if there was anywhere it didn't bother me. A cursory glance at the beginning of the list produced Cherokee, Creed, Deepak, Colleen, and Esmee. So clearly I don't mind it where it's part of a word or the standard spelling of a familiar name, but dislike it when it's used as an alternative to another, more standard spelling.

Eaven really does look name-like. My only concern is that its visual similarity to Raven will encourage an AY-ven pronunciation. Though that may just be how it hit me in that moment.

May 10, 2017 1:10 AM

What I noticed about Eaven was that it's 'heaven' with the 'h' chopped off. I'm not sure what pronunciation I would guess for it if I encountered it "in the wild". "Rhymes with Steven" is certainly among the possibilities, but so are "rhymes with heaven" and "rhymes with haven".

May 10, 2017 7:35 AM

I'm thinking that it's one of those things that could hit you differently each time you saw it.

May 10, 2017 10:42 AM

I think I prefer Even, ultimately. Although it's a word, its similarity to Ever and Eden makes it seem fairly namey, and it does "rhyme with Steven" and is "like Steven without the st". I also agree that it's the most accurate transcription of the forvo pronunciations.

By EVie
May 10, 2017 4:35 PM

It's funny, because it just occurred to me that my married name contains a double ee, as well as my address, and no, it doesn't bother me with those names (although I would have preferred the alternate spellings of the surname, if I'd had the choice). I do dislike how that double ee looks in my handwriting, though! I'm forever trying to find a way to re-write my return address so that it looks neater, but I can't seem to print ee in way that doesn't look messy and uneven. It's less a problem in my signature, where it just turns into a bunch of loops. 

May 10, 2017 12:08 PM

These are all good pints, and I appreciate your thoughtful responses.  I have come across another possible spelling varriant of Evienne, it might get drawn out into 3-sylables, but I suppose that would be OK, and she could always "correct them" - any thoughts on this spelling variant?


May 10, 2017 12:47 PM

Evienne looks so much like Vivienne and terms like julienne, comedienne, etc. that I would almost call a two-syllable pronunciation just plain wrong. I would much prefer the original Irish spelling, which probably wouldn't require any more correction and at least has a strong cultural justification.

On the other hand, if you like the sound of Eh-vee-EHN (sort of like the mineral water, but with more stress on the last syllable) I think it's very pretty.

An update on the original Irish: One of the Irish speakers from Forvo very kindly answered my question there. Apparently, aoibhinn is an adjective meaning "blissful", from the noun aoibhneas, "bliss, delight". The variant Aoibheann is just a girl's name, but pronounced the same (both like the word even). I think this derivation is delightful (see what I did there?), and provides a lovely story to attach to the name when explaining any spelling you come up with. "It's pronounced like the English word even, as in even-Steven. It's the anglicization of an Irish word/name that means 'blissful'."

I still come down in favor of actually using the spelling Even. It probably would be misread as Evan sometimes, but given how often Evan is misread as even I don't think it would be a universal problem, and "just like the word/just like it looks" is a pretty easy clarification. It's not the kind of spelling where later someone would think "OK, I know it's not Evan, but how did she say to pronounce it?"

May 10, 2017 4:09 PM

I would think of that as an entirely different name,  very pretty though - Evie nn

May 10, 2017 6:26 PM

If I just saw Evienne and had to read it out I would definitely say it Ee-vee-EN (like Vivienne). Which is a pretty sounding name so if you like that there's nothing wrong with it but if you are wanting her to be Ee-VEEN I think you/she will have fewer mistakes if you stick with Evene/Eevene/Eveen.

You are obviously going to get mis-spellings/mispronunciations whatever you do though so in some ways there's a fairly compelling argument to simply go with the spelling that looks most pleasing to you. :-)

By mk
May 10, 2017 3:01 PM

I vote for Eveen and correct the eh-veen pronouncers as needed, or Eeveen. Truthfully, I prefer the traditional spelling though. :)

May 16, 2017 2:10 PM

I also prefer the traditional spelling.  It frustrates me when people attempt to change the spelling.  Of course, it will result in pronunciation issues, but look how much division has been caused by attempting to find a new spelling?

The only problem with the traditional spelling is that it is important to make sure you're pronouncing it correctly, lest your daughter pronounce it incorrectly to someone who knows the correct pronunciation.

May 11, 2017 1:08 AM

Of the two original options I prefer Eaveen, although I would probably try and pronounce it with an Ay sound like Eamon.


I don't like Eeveen, it looks too uneven to me (pun intended)

I would probably pronounce Eevene like Eveny


I like the look of Eaven the most but still don't think you'd get the pronunciation you want.  I too see Heaven without the H.


Do you think Evean or Eavean would work?


May 11, 2017 3:05 AM

I think one of the problems is that the Ee-VEEN pronunciation is not the actual pronunciation of the Irish names, leading to a slightly confusing scenario where you are using neither the original spelling nor the original pronunciation...which makes it a whole other name.

Usually one or the other falls by the wayside. My sisters have (easy) anglicizations of Irish names, and my middle name is Irish, spelled correctly but mispronounced (think the classic 80s C name, reinvented since with about a hundred spellings). 

In this case, if you're not going to use the EE-vin pronunciation which the native Gaelic speakers on forvo confirm, I feel like it might be pushing the boundaries of made-upness.

(However, it's possible that there are Irish accents that pronounce it Ee-VEEN.. I know there is a lot of regional variation in Ireland, so perhaps you have better information on this?)

May 12, 2017 6:37 PM

I do like the Eavean - or Evean, those were spelling options I had not previously considered - so thank you for that insight!  I'm still trying to decide which spelling will work the best and if I'm simply, "trying too hard" to make it work.

May 16, 2017 4:45 PM

I like Evean for your desired pronunciation, although Evene is still my favourite.

May 16, 2017 8:40 PM

I agree that Evene makes a good deal of sense. Any spelling is going to require explanation and correction, but Evene has Eve and the -ene ending , both of which are good reminders of the spelling, if not guaranteed to yield it on their own. The e on the end also indicates that it's pronounced differently than Even.

May 12, 2017 8:57 PM

The poet Eavan Boland's name is an Anglicization of this name, I believe! I find the Eavan spelling appealing--clearly not Evan, but looks familiar still.

May 15, 2017 11:10 AM

I like this spelling and have seen it and considered it but I ultimatly fear it will NEVER get pronounced correctly, and always be said as, "E-vhan" similar to Yvonne, when I'm going for the sound, Ee-veen.  Thank you for your suggestion.

May 15, 2017 8:28 PM

I think that Eav- anything, especially knowing its an Anglicization of an Irish name, might be confused with Eamon enough to get an Ay- sound. That's how I'd read it, initially, at least. As for the other considerations, I'd lean towards fewer letters, like Even.