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Welsh Names Celebrate St David’s Day

February 26, 2020 Clare Green
girl holds a bunch of daffodils

The first day of March is St David’s Day, the patron saint of Wales — so what better time to think about Welsh baby names?

You probably know people with Welsh names already, whether or not you realize it. Even as a name lover and paid-up Cymrophile, it takes me a moment to remember that familiar names that have traveled the globe — like Arthur, Owen, Megan and Meredith — all began their journeys in Wales.

We’ve picked 30 Welsh names that are (mostly) less popular in the wider world, covering styles from nature names to surnames to ancient legend, which are straightforward to spell and pronounce. (Though if you prefer the likes of Gruffudd and Lleucu, all power to you!)

Welsh Top 100 Names

Searching for a name that’s popular in nurseries from Cardiff to Caernarfon? All these names were in the Top 100 for Wales in 2018.

Alys This fresh-feeling spelling pares classic Alice down to the essentials.

CaiA name with roots in many cultures, Welsh Cai was one of King Arthur’s knights. (Remember Sir Kay from The Sword in the Stone?)

DylanOne of the most popular Welsh names in the States, poetic Dylan is a unisex name there but almost exlusively male in its homeland.

EiraMeaning “snow”, this is a lovely name for a winter baby.

Eleri Ancient and timeless in Wales, virtually unknown elsewhere.

EvanThis is a Top 100 name in the US too, but feels less expected than Ethan — and has the ever-stylish “Ev” sound.

Mabli — Mabel is sweet and melodic, and this version even more so.

MacsenWith ancient origins, from the Latin name Maximus, Macsen is an interesting twist on the usual Max names.

NiaThe Welsh version of Niamh has all the charm of Mia without the popularity.

OsianMilla Jovovich brought Osian (usually a boy name) into the spotlight when she used it for her daughter. We look forward to seeing if any other parents follow suit!

Rhys Reece is on a downturn, but this more authentically Welsh spelling remains evergreen.

Seren This name, meaning “star”, is shining bright all over the UK but has yet to cross the ocean. Catch it while it’s still rare!

Authentic and Accessible

These names from lower down the charts are established classics in Wales, familiar but not trendy.

Anwen This gentle-sounding name isn’t related to Anne, but the shared sound means it could work as an honor name.

Bethan Bethan is to Elizabeth as Megan is to Margaret, except without the slightly dated popularity. Betsan is another variation.

Bryn This leans more male in the UK, more female in the US…but either way, a chirpy nature name meaning “hill”.

Catrin Caitlin is old news, but the Welsh form of Katherine is a fresh alternative.

Emrys Steeped in Arthurian legend, this is one of the softest of boy names.

Gethin Gethin has never charted in the States, but shares sounds with well-known names like Gavin and Ethan.

Gwenno — Looking for a girl name ending in O that’s full of character? Gwenno is short for Gwen– names like Gwendolen, but stands strong on its own too.

Idris This name belongs to a legendary giant, and — by pure coincidence — is the ultimate Welsh-Arabic crossover.

Taran — With the meaning “thunder”, Taran is as powerful as Thor, but more subtle and even rarer.

Stylish Surnames

Most Welsh surnames are patronymics, derived from fathers’ names. This means that they can be an original way to honor someone, or just a fresh spin on old classics. Here are some that work particularly well as first names.

Bevanfrom Evan, a form of John.

Bowenfrom Owen.

Davisfrom David.

Jonesfrom Ioan or John.

Lloydmeaning “gray”.

Maddoxfrom Madog, meaning “fortunate”.

Parryfrom Harry.

Vaughnmeaning “small”.

Which of these Welsh names do you like best? Let us know in the comments!

About the author

Clare Green

Clare Green writes Nameberry's weekly round-up of the latest baby name news, including celebrity announcements, unusual naming stories, and new statistics from around the world . Clare, who has been writing for Nameberry since 2015, lives in England, where she has worked in libraries and studies linguistics. You can follow her personally on Instagram and Twitter.

View all of Clare Green's articles

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