September 23, 2015


Walden ~ Welsh Valley ~ Old English

The more I think about this name, the more it draws me in. It's appealing on every level, including its literary vibe, trendy sound, surname style, and nature name qualities.

Walden and Thoreau
For many, Walden is undoubtedly a literary name. It automatically brings to mind philosopher Henry David Thoreau's book, Walden. This classic embraced the Romantic period by exploring simple living, and it was fondly named after Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts. Thoreau was able to use a cabin there to write for two years, thanks to his mentor Ralph Waldo Emerson, who owned the land on the northern shore.

If you've ever wanted to "live deep and suck out all the marrow of life," you got the phrasing of that idea from the book Walden. (This quote is a focal point in the movie Dead Poets Society, so maybe you heard it there first.) The name Walden encompasses this popular philosophical memoir written in quotable prose.

More Than The Book
But Walden doesn't necessarily carry the weight of Transcendentalism or the overtones of Thoreau's philosophy. The name is balanced by its heritage as an English surname and its -den ending, which is thriving among top choices like Aiden, Jayden, Brayden, and Camden. In contrast with those contemporary hits, Walden is proudly sporting a bow tie. It may be a nature name and place name, but it has an unmistakable, refined British sound.

Walden gets its meaning from two words, the first half most likely coming from waleis, meaning "Welsh," and denu, meaning "valley." It's a somewhat common English surname, and the name of many different places and small towns in England, Canada, and the US.

If you choose this name, some will ask you if it was inspired by the book, but others won't make the connection. It's such a positive association that it doesn't matter either way, whether you love it for its sound, literary connections, surname status, English history, or all of the above.

There may be a few who will ask you if you were inspired by Ashton Kutcher's character on the bygone show Two and a Half Men. My thoughts are that Walden was chosen for the character in the hopes it would communicate a British upper-crust feel to match his billionaire status. In the show, Walden is much more lovable than his predecessor Charlie was, and I don't think it's a bad association at all.

Other Literary & Artistic References
The former chain store Waldenbooks further lends a bookish air to this name, and while the company likely took its name from the Thoreau work, I couldn't confirm that. Meanwhile, Walden Media, a film company, was named after the pond itself.

Modern Fictional Characters Named Walden
  • Walden Belfiore, from the HBO series The Sopranos
  • Walden Schmidt, from the CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men
  • Walden, from the kids' TV series Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!
  • Walden Macnair, from the Harry Potter series
Walden is not a popular name by any stretch of the imagination. It's so unique it was only given to 28 boys last year.

If you're looking for something earthy, literary, distinguished, familiar, and unique, Walden may just be the perfect choice.

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