Welsh Names Celebrate St David’s Day
Dydd Gŵyl Dewi hapus, and a happy St David’s Day to you too! Let’s celebrate the national festival of Wales with a fresh look at Welsh names.
Welsh baby names are a treasure hoard that sometimes gets overshadowed by the Irish and Scottish cousins. You definitely know a few — Megan, Dylan, Owen, Arthur — but beyond that, there are so many more that are barely known outside Wales and the UK, but really should be.
Here’s our guide to the best Welsh names for every style. We’ve erred towards more anglo-friendly spellings and pronunciations so they’ll sound great whether you’re in Cardiff or Chicago. (But if names like Lleucu and Wmffre make your heart sing, then all power to you!)
Popular Welsh names: Wales versus the USA
Most of the best-known Welsh names in the States follow the “two syllables ending in N” template that Welsh does very well: Owen, Dylan, Evan, Gavin, Tristan, Griffin, Megan, Morgan.
Other internationally popular Welsh names come from history and legend, like Arthur, Rhys, Idris, and Gwendolyn, and from patronymic surnames, like Maddox, Bowen and Davis. Gender-swapping Meredith is a softer option. Kai counts Welsh among its many international roots: he’s Sir Kay of the Round Table (although in Wales today the more common spelling is Cai).
Welsh names are more popular for American boys than for girls: Owen was number 21 in 2019, but you have to go way down to number 156 to find a girl name with Welsh roots (that’s Reese).
In Wales, the very top names are much the same as the rest of the UK: Oliver and Noah, Olivia and Amelia (plus many more in the charts) . But look down the list and you’ll soon find plenty of names with a more local flavor.
In Wales’s Top 100 in 2019 (data from the Office of National Statistics) there are traditional names with deep Welsh roots that have been used for hundreds of years, like Gruffydd and Gwen. There are some that have been revived or invented in modern times, such as legendary Osian and nature name Ffion, and cymricized spellings of popular English names, like Hari and Alys. From the Top 100:
Top Welsh Boy Names
Top Welsh Girl Names
Cool Welsh names
These are names from Wales that fit sound-wise with what many English speakers consider cool baby names. They include stylish sounds like O endings and an “I” sound (as in Kai), and also surname names. Many are short and streamlined, and some feel like a fresh spin on well-known names: Nia instead of Mia, Arthen for Arthur.
Cool Welsh boy names
Cool Welsh girl names
Cute Welsh names
Like your names short and sweet? Like the rest of Britain, many Welsh parents love using nicknames as full names, whether they’re “native” Welsh like Iolo, or respellings of English nicknames, like Loti (Lottie). Also in this style are full mini-names, like Huw, and sweet vintage options like Gladys.
Cute Welsh boy names
Cute Welsh girl names
Romantic Welsh names
Wales has rich traditions of literature, legend and song, way beyond just King Arthur, and a cast of colorfully-named characters to go with it. Here’s a selection of names from history and fiction with a romantic, fanciful feel.
Romantic Welsh boy names
Romantic Welsh girl names
Welsh word and nature names
In Wales just as elsewhere, there has been a boom in names from nature and other vocabulary words in the last few decades, many of them unisex, as parents look beyond traditional sources for fresh inspiration. Here are some that are ready to travel further afield.
Awen “muse, inspiration”
Medi “September, reaping”
Swyn “charm, spell”