Transferred use of the surname, originally a local name for someone who lived in a dale or valley. It is now fairly commonly used as a given name, along with other monosyllabic surnames of topographical origin (see for example Dell and Hale).
Origin uncertain. 1. Possibly an altered spelling of English Avey. However, this name is not known in the British Isles. 2. It is also said to be an altered form of German Ebby, of unexplained origin; perhaps a variant of Ebben or Ewig.