Most Popular Scottish Baby Names Here and There

Scotland's new data brings dozens of great names to consider

By Abby Sandel

Last week we looked at Irish baby names. This week, we turn our attention to Scottish baby names. The new Scottish baby name statistics for 2016 were just released, making it the perfect moment to dive into the data.

While Irish names have been white hot in the US for decades, Scottish choices remained relatively rare until recent years. Now a handful of these are racing up the popularity charts on both sides of the Atlantic.

The good news for American parents in love with all things Scottish? Many others remain undiscovered gems in the US.

Sharp-eyed readers will notice some overlap between our Irish and Scottish lists. That’s thanks to the shared Gaelic roots of the two languages.

Here are the popular Scottish baby names currently in the US Top 1000. That doesn’t mean they’re wildly popular, though. Just two of these Scottish baby names crack the US Top 100!

Annabel/Annabelle, #169 girls – It’s said that the Scots first reimagined the medieval Amabel into Annabel, sometime in the Middle Ages. Americans prefer this name spelled Annabelle, a Top 100 favorite in the US.

Arabella, # 174 girls – Yet another Amabel/Annabel spin-off, Arabella is more popular than ever in the US.

Callan, #100 boys – Callan comes from the medieval Saint Cathal. It resembles many a modern favorite, from Colin to Kellan.

Callum, #28 boys – This long-time Scottish favorite is finally catching on in the US. The single-L Calum spelling is also seen.

Cameron, #31 boys – One of the few names almost equally popular in both countries, Cameron ranks Number 56 in the US.

Esmee/Esme, #223 girls – Literature and pop culture helped boost Esme in the US. The name started out masculine in Scotland. Today, the more clearly feminine Esmee is preferred for girls there.

Finlay/Finley, #14 boys – Spelled with an a, this name is quite popular for boys. In the US, parents prefer the Finley spelling for sons and daughters alike.

Isla, #4 girls – Isla is one of several Scottish place names catching on in the country, as well as throughout the English-speaking world.

Keira, #174 girls – From Ireland to Italy, Russia to Scotland, names similar to Keira are heard. This spelling owes much to London-born actress Keira Knightley.

Lachlan, #92 boys – A traditional Scottish favorite for boys, it’s only recently made inroads in the US.

Maisie, #33 girls – A sassy, retro Margaret nickname that originated in Scotland, Maisie fits right in with current US favorites like Sadie and Elsie.

Rory, #25 boys – Also heard in Ireland, Rory’s traditional Scottish spelling – Ruaridh – also appears in the Scottish Top 100.

All in all, there’s very little overlap between the most popular lists when it comes to Scottish names. But that’s not true of names overall. Ava and Emily, Noah and Oliver are almost equally popular here and there. The Top Names in ScotlandJack and Olivia – feel right at home in the US, too.

Now let’s look at popular Scottish names that American parents have yet to discover:

Archie #21 – A cheerful short form of Archibald, both names are traditionally associated with Scotland.

Eilidh #21 – (ay-lee) – Despite the non-intuitive spelling, Eilidh sounds like a fresh spin on long-time favorites Kaylee and Hailey.

Arran #52 – Arran sounds like the Biblical Aaron, but comes from a large island in Scotland’s Firth of Clyde.

Angus #53 – AC/DC guitarist Angus Young gave this traditional Scottish name a rock star makeover.

Hamish #57 – We’ve heard the Scottish form of James from Four Weddings and a Funeral to Brave, but it’s yet to catch on in the US.

Murray #62 – Vintage Murray comes with a great meaning: settlement by the sea. It could be part of the next wave of antique revivals.

Iona #75 – Another Scottish island name.

Fraser #78 – This Scottish surname might fit right in with American chart-toppers like Carter and Hunter.

Euan #85 – (YOO-un) – A cousin to Owen and possibly John, too, Euan is the name of a minor character in the Harry Potter series.

Mirren #108 – An unusual girls’ name, Mirren might come from a (male) Scottish saint, or possibly as a pet form of Marion.

Caoimhe #191 – (KEE-va) – Also heard in Ireland, Caoimhe comes from a Gaelic word meaning beautiful. Phonetic spelling Keeva is also seen in Scotland.

Mhairi #240 – (MA-ree or VA-ree) – Yet another form of the enduring Mary.

Do you have a favorite Scottish baby name?

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10 Responses to “Most Popular Scottish Baby Names Here and There”

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CaitlinBrittin Says:

March 23rd, 2017 at 7:50 am

For some reason I always thought Fraser would be cute for a girl- maybe because it means strawberry? I don’t know but I think it would be adorable with a ultra feminine middle, like Fraser Catherine or Fraser Jane

meekshouse Says:

March 23rd, 2017 at 8:16 am

Ross is my husband’s name and is so rare and awesome!

Jules.L Says:

March 23rd, 2017 at 9:33 am


obow Says:

March 23rd, 2017 at 8:14 pm

Elliot! It’s a Scottish clan name meaning “with bravery and right”. Love it, it’s my son’s name.

ARhythmofNames Says:

March 23rd, 2017 at 9:19 pm

Eilidh is one of my favorites! Only spelled Ilee 🙂 But the Gaelic spelling makes it really cool looking.

Abby Sandel Says:

March 24th, 2017 at 8:21 am

@ARhythmofNames – I was thinking that, too! But Ilee looks a little incomplete to my eye. Aylee would almost inevitably be pronounced with a long A sound. So … Eilee? Eylee? I keep coming back to Eilidh!

Name_Queen1489 Says:

March 24th, 2017 at 9:42 am

Our daughter’s name is Murron we pronounce it muh rhen.. I love her name we live in the USA. We get compliments. I also had Mirren picked.

RedPanda1203 Says:

March 25th, 2017 at 8:56 am

My friend was named Eilidh despite her parents having absolutely no connection with Scotland or any Gaelic roots. I don’t think anyone has ever pronounced her name right first time while I’ve known her, and the immediate question after she has clarified the pronunciation is ‘What a lovely Irish name’ she then always corrects them to say it’s Scottish. Honestly, I don’t think it’s worth the spelling and pronunciation struggles if you don’t even have any Gaelic roots or connections with the name. Shame, because it really is pretty.

sims4player Says:

March 27th, 2017 at 12:23 pm

I’m Scottish and I’ve never ever met someone who spells it Esmee, only Esme. Also, Ciara is the Scottish spelling, and although Lachlan is a Scottish name it is much more common in Australia, I’ve never met a Scottish person called Lachlan. Personally, I love Morven and Catriona.

RosieMac Says:

April 21st, 2017 at 7:09 pm

Arabella & Angus are my faves.

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