"narrow or wooded river"

Kelvin Origin and Meaning

The name Kelvin is a boy's name of Scottish origin meaning "narrow or wooded river".
A tributary of the River Clyde in Scotland, called in Scottish Gaelic Abhainn Cheilbhinn: caol (“narrow”) or coille (“wooded”) + abhainn (“river”). As a surname, it derives from the name of the river.

As a given name, it first entered usage in the 1920s in the UK, inspired by renowned British physicist, mathematician and engineer William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin, who worked at the University of Glasgow for over fifty years. When he was ennobled by Queen Victoria in 1892, he chose the honorary title Kelvin, after the river which flows past his laboratory. The unit of absolute temperature kelvin (K) is also named in his honor.

In the US, Kelvin caught on as a first name in the 1950s – no doubt influenced by Kevin, which was really taking off in popularity around the same time, as well as Calvin and Melvin, which were falling out of use. It peaked in the early 1960s and has been dropping steadily since, but remains in the Top 1000 today.
# 910 in the US

Kelvin Rank in US Top 1000

Kelvin Popularity

20 Names Similar to Kelvin

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Famous People Named Kelvin

  • Kelvin BenjaminAmerican football player
  • Kelvin MacKenzieEnglish newspaper editor
  • Kelvin SampsonAmerican college basketball coach
  • Kelvin Mercer aka Posdnuosmember of rap trio De La Soul
  • Kelvin BurtEnglish racing driver
  • Kelvin TanSingaporean pop singer
  • Kelvin FletcherEnglish actor

Kelvin in Pop Culture

  • River Kelvin in GlasgowScotland, eponym of William Thomson, 1st Lord Kelvin, Scottish physicist and engineer, inventor of the Kelvin scale of absolute temperature
  • The kelvin is the fraction 1⁄273.16 of the thermodynamic temperature of the triple point of water.