Welsh names have attracted new interest in recent years, both within Wales and beyond. Some Welsh baby names are being newly discovered by parents throughout the English-speaking world, with choices such as Bryn, Owen, Maddox, Dylan, and Evan climbing the international popularity lists.
Welsh girl names in the US Top 1000 include Brynn, Gwendolyn, Morgan, Reese, and Tegan. Welsh boy names that rank among the US Top 1000 include Dawson, Ellis, Evan, Maddox, and Owen. In Wales, popular names include Megan, Meredith, Dylan, and Rhys.
In Lord of the Rings, the Welsh girls' name Arwen sparked a fashion for wen-ending names, while previously unknown Welsh baby names such as Carys, Seren, and Bowen are achieving more widespread use. A beautiful yet tiny country, Wales has its own distinctive language and culture and a lovely roster of its own baby names.
Meaning:"young warrior; well-born"
Description:Owen was derived from two names—the Welsh Owain and the Celtic Eoghan. Each are connected to Eugene, which ultimately came from the Greek word eugenes, comprised of the elements eu, meaning good, and genes, “born.” Owen became a Welsh patronymic surname during the Renaissance. The legendary St. Owen was a Benedictine monk who was a follower of St. Chad.
Description:Ellis is one of the less used names in the currently popular El-family. It is a popular Welsh name in its own right, sometimes spelled Elis, and also an English surname derived Elijah, by way of the Greek Elias.
Description:There's Rhys and there's Reese (now more popular for girls) and there's Reece, and we particularly like the traditional Welsh spelling, which entered the list in 2004, possibly influenced by Jonathan Rhys Meyers, of The Tudors, and Welsh-born actor Rhys Ifans.
Origin:Welsh, variation of Ambrose
Description:If you're looking for a Welsh name less common than Dylan, Griffin, Evan, or Morgan, you might want to consider this offbeat epithet of the wise wizard Merlin.
Root name Ambrose is an ancient saints' name derived from the Greek ambrosia, the food and drink of the gods that conferred immortality.
Meaning:"son of the sea"
Description:Dylan was derived of the Welsh components dy and llanw, meaning "sea." In Welsh mythology, Dylan was a legendary sea god who prompted all the waters of Britain and Ireland to weep when he died. The name came to prominence via the great Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, whose name Bob Dylan adopted in tribute.
Description:Now that Tristan has been rediscovered, maybe it's time for his fabled lover in the Arthurian romances and Wagnerian opera, a beautiful Irish princess, to be brought back into the light as well.
Meaning:"white shadow, white wave"
Description:Guinevere was the name of the beautiful but ill-fated queen of Camelot, for so many years eclipsed by its modern Cornish form Jennifer. Today, Guinevere could be a cool possibility for adventurous parents intrigued by this richly evocative and romantic choice.
Description:One of the few remaining unrestored vintage gems, with a choice of two winning nicknames--the girlish Winnie and the tomboyish Freddie--as well as the slight stretch Freda. Winifred, the name of a legendary Welsh saint, was a Top 200 name into the mid-1920's.
Origin:Welsh variation of John
Meaning:"the Lord is gracious"
Description:Evan was derived from Iefan, a Welsh version of John. John is ultimately a derivative of the Hebrew name Yochanan, comprised of the elements yo, meaning “God” and chanan, “to be gracious.” Evan is actually a Hebrew word itself, meaning “rock.”
Description:Arwen is well known as princess of the Elves in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings: a lovely name with an authentic Welsh ring. She was played in the film by Liv Tyler.
Meaning:"sea-born, sea-song or sea-circle"
Description:Morgan has long been a traditional Welsh male name, a variant of the Old Welsh name Morcant, from the Welsh elements mor, meaning “sea” and cant, “circle.” The female Morgan is unrelated to the male version—it is a name from Arthurian legend created for Morgan le Fay, King Arthur's half-sister and famed sorceress. Her name comes from Morgen, an Old Welsh name meaning “sea-born,” and is related to the Irish name Muirgen.
Description:A name of multiple identities: a somewhat soap-operatic single-syllable surname, a homonym for the biblical bad boy Cain, and, when found in Japan and Hawaii, it transforms into the two syllable KA-neh. Kane also has multiple meanings: in Welsh, it's "beautiful"; in Japanese, "golden"; and in Hawaiian, "man of the Eastern sky."
Origin:Welsh diminutive of Margaret
Description:Megan originally evolved from Meg, which itself derived as a nickname for Margaret. Margaret ultimately comes from the Greek word margarites, meaning "pearl." Megan is no longer a common nickname for Margaret—it is most often used as a full name. Other spellings include Meghan, Meagan, Megyn, and Meaghan.
Description:This Welsh nature name that can be pronounced exactly like the male Ira. Or, to avoid confusion, you could just name her Snow.
Description:Meredith is a soft, gentle-sounding name with subtle Welsh roots. Although originally a boys’ name , Meredith is used mainly for girls now.
Origin:Spelling variation of Bryn, Welsh
Description:Brynn outshines the original Welsh Bryn in the popularity stakes. This simple, brisk name might be seen as a combination of Bree and Lynn, an androgynous-sounding choice that especially in this spelling is not truly unisex: Brynn, for boys, is not even in the Top 1000. Other variations trendy now include Brynna, Brynnan, and Brynnley spelled many different ways.
Meaning:"son of Madoc"
Description:Maddox, a previously obscure Welsh family name with a powerfully masculine image, suddenly came into the spotlight when Angelina Jolie chose it for her son in 2003. By the following year it was in the middle of the Top 1000, and it has risen since.
Description:A common Welsh name virtually unknown before the emergence of the charismatic Idris Elba, first on The Wire and then depicting Nelson Mandela in the acclaimed film.
Idris Hawr "the Giant" was a legendary seventh-century Welsh giant and magician who gave his name to a well-known mountain, "Idris's Fort"
Idris also exists in Arabic, meaning "to learn, study" and is the name of a prophet mentioned twice in the Quran. Idris Shah was a prominent Sufi writer.
Description:The sassy, steel magnolia appeal of Oscar-winning Reese (born Laura Jeanne—Reese is her mother's maiden name) Witherspoon has single-handedly propelled this formerly boys’ name into girls' popularity.
Origin:Variation of Gwendolen, Welsh
Description:One spelling variation that's more popular than the original, this somewhat old-fashioned name might be in honor of poet Gwendolyn Brooks, the first African-American to win a Pulitzer prize for poetry, or may be a way to get to the modern short form Gwen.