Is Eden really that bad for a boy?

I've only heard negative comments, but I hope to name my first son Eden Elliot. Do you think Eden's that bad for a boy? I've never seen it as feminine at all. It is techinically a unisex name.

Replies

1
February 25, 2015 10:31 PM

The name Eden was given to 377 boys in 2013 and to 2,022 girls. Most parents seem to think of it as a girls' name. I am not sure how I feel about Eden as a name as to me it's quite loaded. Symbolically, it represents the place where evil came into the world (at least in a Christian worldview). Of course, you could just think about prelapsarian images of Eden, the place of perfection where animals, plants, and people lived in complete harmony. While I think it's interesting to have a name that represents both absolute innocence and corruption, it's not something I would want to name my child. To me it's almost too intellectually stimulating as I can never decide how I feel about it. 

2
February 26, 2015 3:19 PM

Side note: Eden is from the book of Genesis, and thus part of the Abrahamic tradition shared by Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, not Christianity alone.

3
February 26, 2015 10:55 PM

Fair point! Thanks for the reminder.

4
February 25, 2015 11:14 PM

Eden strikes me as very feminine.  I'd be really surprised to see it on a girl.  I'll also point out that Elliot is starting to get some use on girls now too, so the combination is likely to read as very girl to some people.  

If it's the sound of Eden that you like, I'll suggest Ethan Elliot instead.  

If you like Eden for the religious meaning, perhaps another less common Biblical name could work?  Ezra, Abram, Elam

If it's more the image/garden/nature vibe, perhaps something like Cedar, Reed, River

5
By mk
February 26, 2015 12:22 AM

Looks like a unisex name to me. Yes, some people may see it as a feminine name, but that is not a bad thing.

6
February 26, 2015 12:29 AM

I would not say that it's really bad at all.  I do find it, personally, to be a bit more feminine but that's my opinion.  I also happened to be named Austin, which is used almost exclusively for males and which I really dislike, so I tend to be drawn towards names that are very clearly one or the other.  

7
February 26, 2015 12:34 AM

I would expect a little Eden to be a girl, as my only experience with the name has been on girls. I don't think that means its bad to use it for a boy. But you (and he) need to be prepared to deal with possible gender confusion and/or teasing. If that's going to bother you, then go with Ethan instead or switch them and use Elliott Eden. It wouldn't be problematic as a middle name.

If people assuming he's a girl is not something that will bother you, then go for it. There's nothing wrong with it, and clearly hundreds of parents each year agree with you that it's unisex.

8
February 26, 2015 2:24 AM

I just want to add - my first boyfriend and his brother were both given unisex (arguably feminine) names deliberately by their very feminist parents. I'm not going to say they never got comments on their names, but it was never a problem. Both are adults in their 30s now, married, fairly well adjusted, and both of them really like their names. So it may be that Eden is generally perceived as a girls name, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't use it for a boy or that doing so will definitely cause him unhappiness.

9
February 26, 2015 6:14 AM

I agree with this comment -- it doesn't have to be a big deal even if people do think it sounds feminine.

And I like that if offers the possibility of "Ed" or "Eddie" or maybe even "Dean" as a fall back in case he wants something more conventional in fifth grade. (Fifth graders can be jerks.)

But I do have one objection to the name -- it sounds too much like "Aidan." That is not only a hugely popular name for his age group, it's the inspiration for a whole bunch of other rhyming names like Jayden and Hayden and Caden and Brayden.

I'm going to guess that if you name him Eden, he'll spend his entire life saying "No, EEE-den, not Aidan," and half his mail wiill STILL be addressed to Aidan.

10
February 26, 2015 11:39 AM

Oh, I hadn't even thought about Aidan!  But now that you've pointed it out, I have to agree.  The combination of Eden being used most often for girls, plus the overwhelming popularity of all the Aidan names will probably lead to some confusion. Not the end of the world (my name is confused for other names all the time).  But if they are already having doubts about Eden, I'd say this is another strike against it.

11
February 26, 2015 1:45 PM

Exactly this.

My brother's name is better known in this country as a girls' name. (The pronunciations are different, but the spelling the same.) Thus, his name would get routinely mispronounced on first reading, he'd occasionally get pageant entry forms, etc. It was never a problem for him and he's now a successful grownup who has always, as far as I am aware, liked his name.

My son has a masculine name that is both super-rare and sounds a lot like several more popular female names (Jolene, Jolie, and the whole Julianne family). On paper and when I'm talking about him without his presence, the default assumption is almost always that he must be my daughter. I correct the speaker matter of factly or, more often, just use the correct pronoun, and it's no problem to either me or my son. (The speakers are sometimes very apologetic and I have to reassure them that it's really no big deal, because it isn't. It is not the end of the world for a boy to be mistaken for a girl, because otherwise what are we saying about the value of girls?)

I think my only suggestion would be that it might be nice to have a more clearly gendered name in the middle name slot if your child decides at any point that they want something that is less unisex, say during difficult teenage years. Elliot is starting to be perceived as more of a unisex name itself, albeit one still skewing male, so I might consider a different pairing with Eden.

12
February 26, 2015 1:53 PM

I realize I'm not actually adding anything new with my comment, just wanted to provide some more datapoints of "boys who have girl names and no one was scarred by it".

13
February 27, 2015 12:01 AM

"It is not the end of the world for a boy to be mistaken for a girl, because otherwise what are we saying about the value of girls?"

This, exactly.  Thank you.

Though, I must admit that I am an old fuddy when it comes to gendered names.  I don't like unisex names.  I want my boy names to be all boy and my girl names to be all girl.  Though, I tend to prefer traditional/old fashioned names, so that probably has something to do with it.

14
March 4, 2015 12:10 PM

I used to be firmly in the old fuddy group, but this conversation makes me realize that I've warmed tremendously towards unisex names. It's still not the style of names that I'm drawn to for use on my own kids, but I'm now realizing I've had a big shift somewhere in the past decade, without ever being aware of a big aha moment. Putting it together in retrospect, I think it's probably being increasingly aware of non-terminal points on the gender spectrum (with a bunch of people I know identifying as gender-fluid and not just cis/trans), the studies about the success of traditionally-female versus unisex names on resumes, combined with living in a namespace where there are lots of very unusual names for which gender is not immediately inferrable from past experience... plus a hefty dose of historical education I've received here about medieval names reconciling my preference for traditional names with the existence of unisex names. 

The TL;DR version of this is basically that the more I learn about names, the more I appreciate the diversity of styles, even those that I myself am not drawn to, so a big thank you to the contributers to this forum - I really enjoy learning from all of you. 

15
March 7, 2015 10:51 AM

I've had the opposite experience. I used to like unisex names and now the whole thing makes me angry. It's like pink Legos, it gives the appearance of being more equitable on the surface but when you really stop to think about it, realize that its still going strong. Notice that the names that are "going girl" have largely been prep school names, that is, names that some would call sissy. It's not a coincidence that these names are popular in areas that have a strong anti-intellectual culture. (Or as they would be more likely to dub them eletists) I didn't have a problem with it until my some of my favorite boys names that I considered strong and sensitive and smart were now considered feminine because of those traits. It feels a bit like cultural appropriation. This site is very much nicer and much more intelligent in it's discussions. It's not like that in any of the other sites I visit from time to time but I think that can also distort what is really going on if you only have this site to go on. 

16
March 7, 2015 5:37 PM

Notice that the names that are "going girl" have largely been prep school names, that is, names that some would call sissy. It's not a coincidence that these names are popular in areas that have a strong anti-intellectual culture.[...] I didn't have a problem with it until my some of my favorite boys names that I considered strong and sensitive and smart were now considered feminine because of those traits.


Oh, wow you hit the nail on the head with why I dislike it when boy names go girl, without me realizing exactly why. This is precisely it! Thank you for articulating this.

17
March 5, 2015 9:04 AM

What about Aden or Edin? I really like Aden too.

18
February 26, 2015 12:52 AM

Eden is 100% girl in my book. 

How about Eben?

One letter different and great for a boy! 

19
February 26, 2015 1:37 AM

It reads as feminine to me, but I don't have a problem with a little boy bearing that name. I'm honestly more worried about the middle name, Elliot, which is heavily leaning towards unisex in recent years, so his entire first/middle combo is a bit ambiguous in gender. It's up to you on whether this bothers you or not, but you should be prepared when people assume your child is a girl based on his name.

20
February 26, 2015 1:34 AM

Only around 10% of Edens are boys. To me, that does not mean unisex...that means that 10% of Edens are boys with a girls name. Sorry. If you want more thoughs about boys with girls names, listen to the lyrics of Johnny Cash's "Boy Named Sue"

The name Eden is immediately associated with a garden. Gardens are a place for flowers, a base for countless girls names. 

I know an Eden (girl), whose mother loved names like Eve, Eva, and Emma, but wanted something a little different. 

If you really must give your son the name Eden, please consider Elliot Eden instead. 

21
February 26, 2015 3:24 PM

I want to second this idea that a 10:1 ratio should not be termed "unisex." A celeb couple just named their daughter James, but that doesn't make the name unisex. I would argue a working definition where at least one-third of the name's bearers have to be of the less-common gender, to get a ratio no bigger than 2:1. Taylor and Jordan are my standard examples.
I see Eden as a feminine name, but I don't say that to sway you away. I just want your eyes open when you make a decision. 

22
February 26, 2015 4:10 PM

I think there's a gradient, here. I'd view greater than 10% as my cutoff for "unisex".

This all strengthens my desire to someday crank out some code for creating a gender-voyager in which the male/female ratio of a name is presented over time.

23
March 7, 2015 9:01 PM

Must sic my husband on this coding idea..... Love it!

 

24
By rooo
February 26, 2015 1:46 AM

to me it's a girl's name, but I don't mind it on a boy. He can always go by Ed or Eddie or Deno if it bothers him. I would consider a more masculine middle name, just to make it 100% clear he's a boy when neccessary and avoid mistakes on paperwork, etc. If you want something similar in sound, Eden Everett? Other names I think could work for you are Eden Jonah (EJ also a nn), Eden Benjamin and Eden Anthony.

25
February 26, 2015 2:33 AM

Eden seems like a girls' name to me as well. The possibility of "Eddie" as a nickname helps somewhat, but if you're going to use Eddie as the nickname, I think you'd be better off using Edward or Edmund anyway. I second using a more obviously male middle name, if you choose Eden as the first name, since Elliot is now being used for girls as well. (If you pick a middle name with the "right" initial, you could also get another masculine nickname possibility that way. For example, EJ.)

I'll also second the complex feelings about the name Eden. Sure, it was paradise, but it was also the place where sin entered the world and that humans were banished from. I would assume someone with this name had religious parents. There's a large thread of user comments on the name Eden over at behindthename.com, if you are interested in what a variety of people think of the name:

http://www.behindthename.com/name/eden/comments

Some other possibilities for you: Ezra, or if you are seeking the peaceful nature imagery, Rainier (like the mountain and the Prince of Monaco) has been discussed in other threads recently and might provide that vibe.

26
February 26, 2015 4:55 PM

I don't think the name Eden is "bad" at all for a boy. I don't think there's anything wrong with using unisex names that lean on the girls side, on a boy. 

If you have a problem with the fact that Eden is more of a girls' name, I'll second Ethan and suggest Ian as alternatives. There's also that Elliot is being given to more girls now, which may or may not bother you.

Personally, I don't read Eden (or Elliot, for that matter) as feminine either, but I wouldn't be at all surprised to meet a girl named Eden, and I would be a little surprised to meet a boy Eden (But then I think similarly about the name Riley, so that's not saying much).

Can you name a boy Eden Elliot? Certainly! Should you? That's entirely up to your discretion.

27
February 26, 2015 9:59 AM

I'm all for turning the unisex trend the other way (if boy names are good for girls, then why aren't girl names good for boys?), but I'm not sure Eden is a good name, period -- as others have pointed out, yes, it's a garden, and paradise, but it's also a place of sin, and banishment. I file it in the same category as Pandora, and for me, the bad outweighs the good.

Also, I know people have been cautioning you that Elliot is perhaps not the best choice for gender disambiguation, but nowadays, that's true of any masculine name -- didn't a celebrity recently name a daughter James?

28
February 26, 2015 4:49 PM

This. 

29
February 27, 2015 11:59 AM

My son is Hunter Eden so I think it can be used on a boy

30
February 27, 2015 9:52 PM

What about changing it up a little? Eddon or Eddan, a la Eddard Stark, both strike me as similar enough but without the biblical connotations and gender ambiguity. 

31
February 27, 2015 11:54 PM

All girl.  But I know a boy named Idan...what about that?  Or Aden even?

32
March 2, 2015 11:13 PM

Congratulation, but As a mum of two, I will tell you please dont play with your child's future. Eden is a unisex name but in all countries is more popular for girls. I understand you like this name, but your child wants to live 

with this name.. did you like you had a name for your self that was more common for another gender?! Ofcourse No. Eden is so beautiful name but at this stage it is highly loaded for GIRLS.

 

 

33
March 3, 2015 2:43 PM

Most people will hear Eden as a girl's name.  It is currently ranked at 158 for girls and 642 for boys in the US.  Other options for you with similar sounds could be Dean, Dennis (nn Denny), or Aiden.  Dennis sounds soft like Elliot but with the same sounds as Eden.  Other options with similar biblical connotations could be Adam, Abraham (nn Bram), Ark (or Archer, nn Ark).

34
By Vana
March 5, 2015 7:25 AM

The only 2 people I have come across named Eden were both boys. I think a fine name for a boy. As far as I know they have no problems with their names. 

35
March 7, 2015 8:48 PM

I think Eden sounds really lovely for a boy and don't think it's a bad at all. However, I'm not sure I can alleviate any concerns you may have over using the name for your son. I've heard this question posted a number of times about a number of names and the answers are always both don't do it, it will cause problems (I know someone who had an issue with it) AND do it! it's not like it once was/it won't cause problems (I know somone who loved their mostly feminine name). I think the answer is that it can be either, and that's a hard thing to predict and it depends on your child's temperment, if you have a shy son he make take more issue to being teased but a confident and extraverted son may not. But that's something that is impossible to know before they are born. Then I think it also depends on your community. What does your community think about masculinity and femininity? Is being called a sissy a common playground taunt? Do adults in the area commonly make fun of men for crying or being sensitive or doing "women's work"? That is likely to be a better guide than what someone on the internet will say.

36
March 8, 2015 1:23 PM

I agree with this, Georgina -- the cultural contexts surrounding your child when they are growing up, more broadly, as well as the specific naming tradition, affect how a child with a range of personality types will fare with a unisex-leaning-female name.

37
March 10, 2017 10:56 PM

My son is named Eden Ray, he is 6 and never had any problems. It was a Man's name in the Bible and my husband who is definately a man's man suggested it because it. 

38
March 10, 2017 11:31 PM

I would be interested to know exactly where in the Bible is Eden used as a masculine personal name. I am only aware of Gan Eden, the Garden of Eden in Genesis.

39
March 11, 2017 12:57 AM

"Then the Levites arose, Mahath the son of Amasai, and Joel the son of Azariah, of the sons of the Kohathites; and of the sons of Merari, Kish the son of Abdi, and Azariah the son of Jehallelel; and of the Gershonites, Joah the son of Zimmah, and Eden the son of Joah; and of the sons of Elizaphan, Shimri and Jeuel; and of the sons of Asaph, Zechariah and Mattaniah; and of the sons of Heman, Jehuel and Shimei; and of the sons of Jeduthun, Shemaiah and Uzziel."

-2 Chronicles 29:12-14 (emphasis added)

40
March 11, 2017 2:53 AM

Well. that's a treasure trove of underused biblical names....Of that lot I have run across the following names in use: Joel, Azariah, Gershon, Abdi, Asaph, Zechariah, and Uzziel.

Thanks.

41
By EVie
March 11, 2017 8:19 PM

Joah sounds like a name with real potential today, given how hot Noah is, along with the familiarity of other Biblical J names like Jonah, Joseph, Josiah, etc.

42
March 11, 2017 9:16 PM

Another rarely heard biblical name that might have potential: Jerah.  I had a colleague with that name.