Scottish and Irish
"rowan tree; little redhead"

Rowan Origin and Meaning

The name Rowan is a boy's name of Scottish, Irish origin meaning "rowan tree; little redhead".

With its gentle sounds and earthy vibes, the name Rowan feels like a fusion of different styles. A word name, a surname, and a gender-neutral name, Rowan is rustic but trendy, blending the vibes of both Owen and Oakley.

Just as it’s hard to fit Rowan into one category, it’s equally difficult to identify one definitive root. It could be considered an Anglicized form of the Irish name Ruadhán, meaning “little redhead” and it was used as an English surname before it became a given name.

Alternatively, it could be linked to the rowan tree, whose name derives from Old Norse and means “to redden.” In folklore and mythology, rowan trees are seen as a symbol of protection and of life, adding extra meaning to Rowan.

To complicate matters further, some scholars identify Rowan as a girls’ name, deriving from Rowena and Rhonwen, meaning “famous friend” or “white spear.” This gives it solid credentials as a unisex name and lends it a slightly more rugged vibe.

What is certain, however, is that Rowan has quickly become a stylish choice, chosen for over 3000 boys every year. Once an obscure name in the US, it rapidly climbed the charts during the 2010s and has now entered the Top 100 Boy Names for the first time.

Rowan is popular in the UK, Canada, and the Netherlands too, but even more so among Nameberry users, where it ranks in the Nameberry Top 30.

The most prominent bearer of the name is probably Rowan Atkinson, the British comic actor of Blackadder and Mr Bean fame. Other namesakes include the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Douglas Williams, and the Australian swimmer, Rowan Crothers. Pokémon fans and Sarah J. Maas readers might recognize it too as the name of a character in both the game franchise and in the Throne of Glass series.

Gentle but powerful, stylish but not oversaturated, Rowan may well continue to climb the charts, so if you love Rowan but want to stray from the trends, Ruan, Sylvan, Lorcan, Lennox, Wren and Sloan might inspire you.

# 96 in the US

Rowan Rank in US Top 1000

# 25 on Nameberry

Rowan Rank in Nameberry Top 1000

Rowan Popularity

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Famous People Named Rowan

  • Rowan Douglas Williams104th Archbishop of Canterbury
  • Rowan Sebastian AtkinsonEnglish actor/comedian
  • Rowan Wingate RobertsonEnglish rock guitarist of Bang Tango and DC4
  • Rowan Joffeson of producer Roland Joffe
  • Rowan Michael Maida (b. 2004)son of singer Chantal Kreviazuk and Raine Maida
  • Rowan Thomas Lidge (b. 2009)son of baseball player Brad Lidge
  • Rowan Pavelka (b. 2010)son of trainer/TV personality Jessie Pavelka and actress Sitara Hewitt
  • Rowan James Nesmith (b. 2015)son of Savannah Mooney and Stone Nesmith of TV's "16 and Pregnant"
  • Rowan Form (b. 2016)son of producer Andrew Form and actress Jordana Brewster
  • Rowan Dancy (b. 2018)son of Claire Danes and Hugh Dancy.

Rowan in Pop Culture

  • Rowanprofessor of the Sinnoh region in video game Pokemon
  • Rowanprince in Julie Kagawa's Iron Fey series
  • Rowanbook series by Emily Rodda and its main character
  • Rowan Whitethorncharacter from Sarah J. Maas's "Throne of Glass" series
  • Rowan Donoghuecharacter from The Sims video game series
  • Rowanyoung boy in "Lego Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures"
  • Rowan University in GlassboroNew Jersey
  • Rowan OakWilliam Faulkner's home in Oxford, Mississippi
  • Rowan Khannacharacter in Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery