Scottish Baby Names: Happy St. Andrew’s Day!

Scottish Baby Names: Happy St. Andrew’s Day!

Latha Naomh Anndra sona dhuibh! or Happy St Andrew’s Day!

Tomorrow, Scotland celebrates its national day, kicking off a trio of traditional winter festivals in the Scottish cultural calendar. In honour of the occasion, we’re putting the spotlight on some truly off-the-beaten-track Scottish baby names inspired by Scotland’s unique geography.

The country encompasses well over 700 islands, whose language and culture (and, of course, names!) have been heavily influenced by a long history of occupation by their Gaelic, Nordic and English neighbours. Some of these names are familiar — Isla, Iona and Skye; Lewis, Harris and Arran — but many others remain virtually unknown.

Let’s take a look at some of the most intriguing island offerings:


Ailsa — Ranking at #103 in its native land, airy Ailsa derives from the island’s Viking name: Alfsigesey (“island of Alfsigr”). It remains a rare name outside of Scotland, but would make a great alternative to popular soundalikes such as Isla, Elsa and Alyssa.

Eriska — The little island of Eriska is a pretty holiday destination at the entrance to Loch Creran. It is used as a given name in Scotland, but sparingly: only one baby girl received the name in 2016, making it a very underused gem with an exotic feel.

Faerey — Two of the islands of Orkney, Fara and Faray, were known as Færey (“isle of sheep”) in Old Norse, though now the area is home to a protected colony of grey seals. Sweet and elfin, Faerey has a decidedly Tolkienesque feel.

Jura — A unisex choice in Scotland, Jura is a large Hebridean island where George Orwell wrote his famous novel _Nineteen Eighty-Fou_r (coincidentally, Jura is also a Croatian form of George). It fits the trend for short, clean, a-ending names for girls, which has seen the likes of Alba, Cora and Luna rising in recent years.

Kerrera — Kerrera or Cearrara is another Hebridean island with an appealingly on-trend name. If feisty, feminine names like Keira and Kerensa appeal to you, this might be another unexpected option to consider.

Lismore — Once a center of Celtic Christianity, lush Lismore is now predominantly agricultural; in fact, its name means “great garden” in Gaelic. Lismore would make for a soft and distinctive Scottish given name, perhaps even a creative way to honour a Liz or Lisa.

Switha — Small but significant for conservation and research, the isle of Switha is home to a wide variety of sea birds. As a given name, it has a soft and pleasingly medieval sound.

Tiree — The popular island of Tiree is famed for its mild climate, beautiful beaches, and big surf. It’s a lovely namesake and a sweet-sounding name which gets sporadic use in Scotland and the rest of the UK. Its vibrant -ee ending is trending for girls, particularly in the US, so Tiree feels like a name that would travel well.

Vaila — Pronounced “VAY-la”, this melodic name ranked #311 in Scotland last year. It has never charted in England & Wales, making it a thoroughly Scottish choice. The little northern isle of Vaila recorded a population of just two at the last census!


Barr — The island of Davaar takes its name from St Barr (also called Finnbarr) and is famous for its natural caves, one of which contains a mysterious full-scale painting of the crucifixion. Strong and simple, Barr could make a rugged alternative to cute celebrity favorite Bear.

Coll — A fresher spin on Colin, Coll is a Hebridean island known for its impressive sand dunes and rare bird species.

Donan — Eilean Donan (“island of Donnán”) is named for a martyred Celtic saint who supposedly established a church on the island. Donan is an underused option to consider for fans of popular Gaelic soundalikes like Ronan and Declan.

Firth — Not strictly an island name: a firth is a coastal body of water in Scotland, where many of its islands are found. As a novel word name, it feels very on-trend: strong, distinctive, nature-inspired, and with a cool celebrity namesake in British actor Colin Firth.

Haskeir — A remote island with a striking name, which possibly derives from the Norse Skil__ðar (“shields”), Haskeir feels like an interesting and distinctly Scottish elaboration on gruff Gaelic choice Keir.

Hearnish — The name of a small island in the Outer Hebrides, Hearnish brings to mind another Scottish offering: Hamish, a form of James, which is currently a fashionable favourite amongst Telegraph-reading British parents. Hearnish could make for a handsome and unique alternative.

InnesInnis is Gaelic for “island”, though the Innes spelling is much more prevalent as a given name. It’s a popular choice in Scotland: just outside the Top 100 for boys last year, and occasionally given to girls too.

Rockall — This island may be one of the most remote places on the planet, but Rockall feels cool and wearable as a name, especially considering the potential for jaunty nicknames Rocky and Rocco.

Taran — Taran is another name for St Ternan, after whom the island of Taransay is named. It’s an unusual but surprisingly international choice: a Welsh and Cornish name meaning “thunder”, a Sanskrit name meaning “raft, boat”, and a Persian name meaning “music, song”. It ranked just inside the Top 1000 for England & Wales last year.

About the Author

Emma Waterhouse

Emma Waterhouse

Emma Waterhouse joined the team in 2017, writing about everything from the top baby name trends 2023 to how not to choose the next big baby name. As Nameberry's head moderator, she also helps to keep our active forums community ticking.

Emma's articles on names and naming trends have been featured in publications including the Huffington Post, People, Today's Parent, Fatherly, and Good Housekeeping.

A linguist by background, Emma speaks several languages and lives in England's smallest county with her husband and four young children. You can reach her at