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Kevin

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Kevin
Gender masculine
Origin
Language(s) Irish
Word/name Caoimhín
Meaning of noble birth
Other names
Variant form(s) Caoimhín; Kevan, Kevyn

Kevin (/ˈkɛvɪn/) is the anglicized form of the Irish masculine given name Caoimhín ([kiːvʲiːnʲ], Middle Irish: Caoimhghín [kəiṽʲʝiːnʲ], Old Irish: Cóemgein [koiṽʲɣʲinʲ], latinized Coemgenus), composed of Irish caomh (Old Irish cóem) "dear; noble"[1] and -gin (Old Irish gein) "birth".[2]

The variant Kevan is anglicized from Caoimheán, an Irish diminutive form.[3] The feminine version of the name is Caoimhe (anglicised as Keeva or Kweeva).

History

Saint Kevin (d. 618) founded Glendalough abbey in the Kingdom of Leinster in 6th-century Ireland. Canonized in 1903, he is one of the patron saints of the Archdiocese of Dublin. Caomhán of Inisheer, the patron saint of Inisheer, Aran Islands, is properly anglicized Cavan or Kevan, but often also referred to as "Kevin".

The name was rarely given before the 20th century but has been "widely adopted throughout the English-speaking world" since,[3] surging in popularity during the 1950s. The sudden rise in popularity may be tied to actor Kevin McCarthy, who first became famous with Death of a Salesman (1951). In the United States the name's popularity peaked at rank 11 in 1963. It has steadily decreased in popularlity since then, but is still given with moderate frequency, at rank 89 as of 2016.[4] The name followed a similar trajectory in the United Kingdom, gaining popularity in the 1950s, peaking in the 1960s, gradually declining in the 1970s to 1980s, and falling out of the top 100 most popularly given names by the 1990s.[5] The Oxford Dictionary of First Names suggests that anglicized Kevin may have influenced the adoption of Kelvin (in origin a river name) as a modern given name, which peaked in popularity at about the same time, albeit to a much lesser extent (peaking at rank 209 as of 1961 in the US).[6]

Conversely, in non-English speaking Europe, the name picked up popularity in the 1980s. The name had been introduced to Europe via pop culture, and was notorious for being extremely popular among lower class parents during the 1980s to 2000s. The name peaked markedly in the early 1990s, reaching first rank in France during 1989–1994, during 1991–1992 in Switzerland and in 1991 in Germany. The 1991 peak in German speaking Europe is due to the Christmas comedy film Home Alone, marketed as "Kevin – Allein zu Haus" in German (named for protagonist "Kevin McCallister", played by 10-year-old Macaulay Culkin). Especially in Germany, the name became associated with low social status, an attitude popularised in German journalism based on a 2009 master thesis on primary teachers' reactions to children's given names.[7] "Kevin" or "Kevinismus" in German has become a short-hand for short-lived fads in given names based in pop culture.[8][9]

People

before 1940

The name was comparatively rarely given in Anglophone countries prior to the 1940s and in the early 20th century remained associated with Irish heritage.

1940s to 1970s

First popularity surge in the US and UK

1980s to 1990s

Gradual decline in anglophone culture and popularity surge in non-English-speaking Europe

See also

References

  1. ^ edil@qub.ac.uk. "eDIL - Irish Language Dictionary". www.dil.ie. 
  2. ^ edil@qub.ac.uk. "eDIL - Irish Language Dictionary". www.dil.ie. 
  3. ^ a b A Dictionary of First Names. Oxford University Press (2007) s.v. "Kevin".
  4. ^ Campbell, Mike. "Popularity for the name Kevin". Behind the Name. 
  5. ^ donnah. "Baby names in England and Wales - Office for National Statistics". www.ons.gov.uk. 
  6. ^ A Dictionary of First Names. Oxford University Press (2007) s.v. "Kelvin".
  7. ^ "Oliver Trenkamp Ungerechte Grundschullehrer: Kevin ist kein Name, sondern eine Diagnose". Spiegel Online. 16 September 2009. 
  8. ^ Katrin Pribyl, "KEVINISMUS" Wie Namen die Zukunft von Kindern beeinflussen, Welt, 26 February 2008.
  9. ^ Sarah Zhang, [The Strange German Disease Called "Kevinism": Can a Lame Name Mess Up Your Life?], Discoblog (discovermagazine.com), 1 February 2012. "Kevinometer: Kennen Sie das Kevinismus-Risiko Ihrer Lieblingsnamen?" (beliebte-vornamen.de)

External links

Media related to Kevin (given name) at Wikimedia Commons