About A Name: Haven

September 29, 2011 § 4 Comments

(c) OK! Magazine, September 2011

I’ve been waiting for Jessica Alba to explain her six-week-old daughter Haven Garner‘s name choice! Turns out, it’s as sweet and meaningful as I expected. She told OK! Magazine:

“When I delivered Haven she was born still inside the amniotic sac, which is rare. When I was in recovery we still hadn’t chosen her name. Cash picked her up and said she came into the world in her ‘safe haven’ and it clicked right then for both of us…The doctor had never seen anything like it before. He grabbed the nurse and said: ‘Look at this!’ I was in the middle of pushing and he told me to hold on a minute and not to push! He was wearing basketball shorts and a T-shirt and said: ‘Oh I have to get my scrubs on for this!’ The sac burst on its own after she came out. It was a trip.”

The word haven is from Old English, and means “safe place.” And it’s not even the first time this year that a celebrity used the name – alice + olivia designer Stacy Bendet named her second daughter, born in April, Scarlet Haven. In December 2003, former Nip/Tuck star Dylan Walsh welcomed daughter Stella Haven, the same month that US soap stars Mick Cain and Schae Harrison welcomed son Haven Jude. Former Facts of Life star Lisa Whelchel welcomed daughter Haven Katherine in 1991.

The name is calming, all about sanctuary, and is a less spiritual alternative to cousin name Heaven (though it means what it is, ‘safe’ and ‘sanctuary’ are both deeply rooted in the meaning) – which is both decidedly feminine and fully loaded. Haven is a far less spiritual (and polarizing) name to wear. In the decidedly mostly Christian United States, the name Heaven is inside the Top 300, less-used Haven is not.

Because of the connotations and some connections to “safe port,” Haven is an often used as a fictional place name, specifically in science fiction and fantasy where the idea of apocalyptic future societies is commonplace. There are also real towns in Australia, the US, and England that bear the name.

Like so many names today (see Aubrey), Haven was originally a boy’s name, worn by Utah State legislator Haven J. Barlow and his son, Dr. J. Barlow, Jr., and 1970s NFLer Haven Moses. Interestingly enough, some of the earliest instances in pop culture where Haven was used for girls was among various porn stars – leading some to view this name for girls as “trashy.” And in a lot of ways, just looking at some of the feminized alternate spellings – Havyn, Hayven – do look less sophisticated (which is often the case of alternate spellings in general).

My advice? I think this once male name has been almost entirely claimed by the girls, and it’s sweet and sophisticated, with a gorgeous meaning, if you stick to the original spelling.

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§ 4 Responses to About A Name: Haven

  • Can see this doing well with the popular AY sound in it; it almost seems like a variant of Ava. (Ava – Aven – Haven) or a variant of Hayden. Celerities lapping it up can only help.

    Haven seems like a name that boaties would like, as a “haven” is a harbour for ships.

    I must admit, my first association with Haven is “tax haven”!!!

    • namemuststay says:

      It’s true, the name itself is still growing on people, but probably will since it’s so similar to popular choices!

  • It’s another one of those names that grow on you over time, however it does feel like Alba’s cornered herself should they have a third. Haiku? Hazel? Helix?

    • namemuststay says:

      Hana? Seems to suit them. It’s true, a third child would create a strange sibset, or one that bothers those who like each child’s name to stand out on it’s own.

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