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 Scotland – Jack 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?