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Scottish Baby Names: From Ailsa to Angus

November 7, 2008 Linda Rosenkrantz

With all the interest in Irish names these days (including by us–our Cool Irish Names for Babies will be out on St. Patrick‘s Day)–and all the talk about Gaelic and Celtic charm, we sometimes forget that there are other species of Gaelic/Celtic names out there. You don’t have to be one of the 9.2 million Americans with Scottish or Scots-Irish roots to find these names engaging, though if you happen to be a Ferguson or a MacPherson, Scottish baby names would have special meaning for you.

A blend of several different cultures, Scottish names make for a varied mix.  The Scots themselves were a Celtic tribe that emigrated across the Irish Sea around 500 AD, so that many Scottish names derive from Old Irish ones.  New names were added to the pot by waves of invaders and settlers, including Viking warriors, and others were inspired by places and words.  The Scots were in the vanguard of using the mother’s maiden name as a child’s first–leading to examples  like Blair, Keith and Fraser–and were also prone to feminizing boys’ names, with such curious results as Williamina and Angusina.

Many modern Edinburgh parents tend to stray away from the traditional Scottish names and follow international trends–the current top 5 girls’ names are Sophie, Emma, Lucy, Katie, and Erin–but others are returning to their roots.  Here are some interesting Scottish baby names you may not have considered:

GIRLS

AILIE (from the Gaelic Eilidh)

AILSA

ANNELLA

EFFIE (from the Gaelic Oighrig)

ELSPETH

FINELLA

GREER (also used for boys in Scotland)

IONA

ISOBEL/ISHBEL

KENNA

LILLIAS

NESSA

PEIGI (pronounced Peggy)

BOYS

ALASDAIR

ANGUS

AULAY

BAIRD

DOUGAL

EUAN

GRAEME

HAMISH

IVOR

KEIR

LACHLAN

MAGNUS

MUIR

TAM

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