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Patriarchal Names:  Adam.
From History of Christian Names, by Charlotte M. Yonge, 1884.

The oldest of all proper names comes from a word signifying red, and refers to the red earth (adama) out of which the first man was taken, reminding us that dust we are, and unto dust shall we return.

Some say that it should be translated 'likeness,' and that it comes from the same root as 'adama,' red earth, because red earth is always alike, wherever found.  In this case, the first man would have been called from his likeness to his Creator, but the other explanation is preferable, especially as the same adjective, pronounced with a change in the vowel sound, so as to make it Edom, was the surname of Esau (hairy), on account both of the ruddiness of his complexion and of the red lentile pottage for which he sold his birthright.

No Israelites or Jews appear to have been called after our first father, and the first time Adam comes to light again, is among the Keltic Christians of Ireland and Scotland.  It is not improbable that it was first adopted according to a frequent Gaelic fashion, as the ecclesiastical name most resembling the native one of Aedh or fire; but however this may be, there was in the seventh century a distinguished abbot of Iona, called in the dog Latin of the time, Adamnanus or dwarf Adam, and best known as Adamnan.  Though not recognized by the Roman calendar, he was regarded as a saint in his own country, but his name has been much corrupted.  At Skreen in Ireland, where he founded a church, he is styled St. Awnan, at Raphoe he is patron, as St. Ennan, in Londonderry he is St. Onan; but in Scotland, Adam has become a national Christian name.  The family who most affected it were the 'gay Gordons.'  Edie is the Scottish contraction.  The feminine Adamina has been a recent Scottish invention.

In Germany and the neighbouring countries there prevails an idea that Adam is always long-lived, and if the first infant of a family dies, the life of its successor is secured by calling it either Adam or Eve.  In consequence it has various contractions and alterations.  In Lower Lusatia it is Hadamk in familiar speech; the Swiss abbreviation is Odli; the Esthonian Ado or Oado, the Lettish was Adums.  With its contration, Ade, it seems to have been very common at Cambrai through the middle ages.

"The mother of all living"—received from the lips of Adam a name signifying life, sounding in the original like Chavva, as it began with a rough aspirate.  It was not copied by any of her daughters for a long time, and when first the Alexandrian Jews came on it in their translation, they rendered it by Zoe (life), in order to show the connection of the name with the prophecy; but afterwards in the course of the narrative they merely made it Eva, or in Latin the Heva or Eva, which English has changed into Eve.

Eve has been seldom used in England, though old parish registers occasionally show a pair of twins christened Adam and Eve.

The same notion of securing a child's life that has spread the use of Adam in Germany and its vicinity has had the same effect upon his wife, so that Eva is common in both Germany and Scandinavia.  Russia has Evva or Jevva, though not often as a name in use; the Letts as Ewe or Ewusche; the Lithuanians as Jewa or Jewele, the first letter of course pronounced like Y; and in Lusatia her namesakes are called Hejba or Hejbka.*

The murdered son of Adam is called by a Hebrew word meaning breath, vapour, or transitoriness, and as some think may have been so termed in remembrance of his short life.  The sound of the original word was more like Hebel, but through the Greek we receive it as Abel.

It is not absolutely a modern Puritan name, for an Abel existed in Essex in the time of Henry III., and Awel is known in Russia; but it is generally given direct from the Bible, as are also Seth (appointed), and Enoch (dedicated).

Adah (ornament), the wife of Lamech, is often supposed to be the origin of our English Ada, but this last is the hereditary Latinized form of Eed (rich), and is the same as the German Ida.  Zillah (or shadow), the other wife of Lamech, is a Gypsy name.

* Smith's Dictionary; Michaelis, Personen Namen.


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