It is becom­ing less and less com­mon that peo­ple ask me if I was named after the movie star Eva Marie Saint. Peo­ple used to ask me that fre­quently, but not so much any­more. I wasn’t named after her any­way; my name is a com­bi­na­tion of Eva, which was my great-aunt’s name, and Marie, which was the name of my mom’s mat­eral grandmother.

Tech­ni­cally, we’re not sup­posed to say that I was named after Eva, because in the Ashke­nazi Jew­ish tra­di­tion you’re only sup­posed to name babies after deceased rel­a­tives. I’m actu­ally not Jew­ish, but my mom’s father was, and his aunt was named Eva.

On my birth cer­tifi­cate, Marie appears as my mid­dle name, but I ended up being called by both names, and so on many offi­cial con­texts, I appear as “Eva-Marie.” My dad insisted that I be called by both names. Some song­writer friends of my par­ents even wrote a song about me, enti­tled “Eva-Marie.”

While I like the name, I now go by just Eva. First of all, it can be unwieldy for peo­ple to say both names, and I don’t want to nag them about using both. I also changed the pro­nun­ci­a­tion of Eva, to “Ava.” When I lived in Ecuador I became accus­tomed to being called “Ava,” so I just began intro­duc­ing myself with that pro­nun­ci­a­tion, even after I returned to the States.

One Comment

  • Eva-Marie is a beau­ti­ful name that reminds us sub­lim­i­nally of two bib­li­cal mothers—Eve and Mary. Eva describes the prob­lem with com­pound names that women describe repeat­edly in the book—people seem to pre­fer one name as opposed to two. Women with com­pound names often drop one name or fuse the name as Mary Ann did when she became MaryAnn. Because the name Ava is also found in Asia as well as Europe, it has very ancient roots. The poet Ava is is the ear­li­est known female writer in Ger­man. Explor­ing the name will pro­vide a won­der­ful trip across cul­tures and con­ti­nents. In 2010 in the U.S., Ava was the fifth most pop­u­lar name for a baby girl.

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