Gender: Female Pronunciation: neev Meaning of Niamh: "bright" Origin of Niamh: Irish Gaelic

Niamh Origin and Meaning

The name Niamh is a girl's name of Irish, Irish Gaelic origin meaning "bright".

Niamh, derived from the Old Irish Niam, is an ancient Irish name that was originally a term for a goddess. In Irish myth, one who bore it was Niamh of the Golden Hair, daughter of the sea god, who falls in love with Finn's son Oisin and takes him to the Land of Promise, where they stayed for three hundred years. Niamh can be anglicized as Neve, Nieve, or Neave.

Niamh is particularly popular choice in Northern Ireland, Ireland, Scotland and England and Wales. Niamh Cusack is part of the acting family that also includes Sinead (wife of Jeremy Irons), Sorcha and Padraig. Americans have recently become better acquainted with Niamh—its correct pronunciation as well as its difficulties—via the heroine of Christina Baker Kline's bestselling novel Orphan Train.

Here, the phonetic Neve would undoubtedly prove simpler, if less intriguing. Neve is the name of actress Neve Campbell, for whom it has family connections, and the daughter of Conan O'Brien. But if you're worried about pronunciation, just keep in mind Saoirse Ronan and Sinead O'Connor—it never stood in their way.

16 names similar to Niamh

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- this week

Famous People Named Niamh

Pop Culture References for the name Niamh

Niam, Neve


cmailest Says:


This name sounds very nice but I think it's pretty much unusable in the US :( even i forget how to pronounce it after seeing it again for the first time in a while. Naming your child this would mean a lifetime of corrections and people not even knowing where to start when trying to pronounce it..

Nia Says:


The name Niamh actually comes from the Irish word "niamhrach" meaning glorious, bright, shining, lustorious, resplendent. If anyone's interested it's in a poem called An tEarrach Thiar by Máirtín Ó Direáin. It's a stunning poem. There are audio clips of it being read in Irish on YouTube that are certainly worth a listen and an English translation available on Google.

heathergrey Says:


I love Niamh and I think it's such a great Gaelic name. It's actually fairly popular in Scotland (you won't find one in every classroom but there's a fairly decent chance there's a Niamh in the school somewhere). I think it's kind of funny that Americans are butchering the spelling to Neev, which is so ugly, so that people can pronounce it more clearly. It kind of shows that picking a name from a culture that you don't understand isn't necessarily a good idea.

heathergrey Says:


You'd be naming your child 'Nee' but ok...

beachbear Says:


I love the way this looks. For some reason I'm less drawn to the actual pronunciation (neev) than how it might sound phonetically (nee-am or nie-am).

Hardly_Known Says:


I can only imagine the difficulty with spelling this name outside of Ireland! I often get stuck with how to pronounce it, although I do like the name

autumnreverie Says:


I love it. I've loved it for years. I've had it on my middle name list, but have started to consider it for a first.

MadeleineClaire Says:


My daughter is Niamh Isabella. People mispronounce it a lot however once I've corrected them they think it's a beautiful name. My partner chose it and I'm so glad we went with it, it fits her bright and slightly zany personality to a tee 😊

Niamhdd27 Says:


This is my name!!

TheHumanCanvas Says:


Niamh is my little cousin's name :D Can't imagine living in the US, and having to spell it Neve for clarification. I think that's sad ;;

Essa Says:


I suppose. I guess it going to be confusing no matter since it's an Irish name and the sounds are completely different to English. It is one Irish name that I think is quite useable in England (where I'm from) right now but only because it's quite popular so I think most people have encountered it before.

Zoey_Artemisia Says:


I just thought that the 'h' might through people off a bit, but Niam does look like it's pronounce as Nee-am.

SimoneKadele Says:



ejmcg22 Says:


It's nice but just know that it's growing extremely dated here in Ireland.

Essa Says:


Oh you see I thought Niamh would be easier than Niam because the mh automatically makes you question yourself when pronouncing in N-eye-am or Nee-am.

fuzzycub Says:


... But You Do Like To Write Like This

Zoey_Artemisia Says:


Ok sorry I didn't know that. I had just read a book based on Gaelic mythology and a characters name was Niam. Namberry had also listed it as a variation.

megs_19 Says:


You can't spell it Niam as in Gaelic the mh makes the V sound.

MiaLuv Says:


I Dont Like This Name At All

Guest Says:


I really like this name but my name is annoying enough to have to spell out I can only imagine having to tell people "it's NEEV!"

Zoey_Artemisia Says:


I think Calliope Niamh is a great, unique name!

Zoey_Artemisia Says:


An easier variant may be Niam :)

mabespark Says:


I love the sound of this name, but I can't stop reading it as 'Nye-am'.

unicornluvgirl Says:



taliawhat Says:


I REALLY want to use this for a middle someday! Not that there is anything remotely wrong with using it for a first (we might consider that, too) - I just am picturing it with longer, more fluid firsts (like Calliope Niamh or something). I think, especially if you are worried about the pronunciation too much to use as a first, that it provides a very happy and energetic "peekaboo" of awesome for the middle spot. An added bonus is that it has such a shimmering, magical back story!

LadyVanRaven Says:


Beautiful name! Love the mythology behind it as well. I personally am saddened when I see people change the spelling to something like Neve. This spelling is beautiful and increases the charm in the name. Only problem of course is people constantly mispronouncing and misspelling it. But for this name...I would be willing to look past that inconvenience. It's just too beautiful to pass up.

schambo Says:


This is my current front-runner name for our baby girl due in August!