Welsh Baby Names: Which way to go? Cai, Dai or Elvis?

by Linda Rosenkrantz

If you’re looking for a name that reflects your Welsh roots, or simply find the soft sound of names from Wales appealing, there are several possible ways to go.  You could consider Welsh names that have long been used in the US—some of which have far from obvious roots. Then there those currently popular in Wales which have never made their way through US immigration. And, finally, some other, interesting Welsh names worth considering, including some Welsh versions of classics.

WELSH NAMES WITH US CITIZENSHIP

Girls

Branwen

Bronwen

Enid

Gladys

Gwen, Gwendolen

Gwyneth

Megan

Meredith

Mona

Morgan 

Ria   

Rhona

Rhonwen

Rowena

Winifred

Boys

Arthur

Bevan

Cecil

Dewey

Dylan

Elvis

Ennis

Evan

Floyd

Garth/Gareth

Griffin/Griffith

Llewelyn

Lloyd

Meredith

Mervyn

Morgan

Owen

Price

Rhys

Vaughan

Winston

SOME DISTINCTIVE NAMES CURRENTLY POPULAR IN WALES

Girls (Amelia is Number 1)

Bethan–#84

Carys–#45 (used by Welsh-born Catherine Zeta Jones for her daughter)

Cerys–#75

Ffion–#19

Indie–#97

Lowri–#49 (the Welsh form of Laura)

Mali–#53

Seren–#7

Boys (Jacob is Number 1)

Gethin–#47

Harri–#37

Iestyn–#74 (Welsh form of Justin)

Ieuan–#79

Ioan–#56

Iwan–#91

Osian–#33

Tomos–#39

There is also a wide selection of Welsh names that might be unfamiliar but are totally usable for those of you who want to honor your Welsh heritage without going all the way to Myrdeg or Manawydan.

GIRLS

Anwen

Arwen

Aurona

Branwen

BriallenWelsh for primrose

DerynWelsh for bird

Dilys

EiraWelsh for snow

Eluned

Iola

Iona

Isolde

Mairwen/Mair

Nerys

Nesta

Olwen

Rhiannon

Sian—the Welsh form of Jane

Tegan 

BOYS

Aeron

Alban

Alun

Caione of King Arthur’s faithful companions

Daidiminutive of David/Dafydd

Dathan

Elian

EosWelsh for nightingale

GlynWelsh for valley

Gwynno

IagoJames in Welsh, evil in Othello

Idris

Lleu

Maxen

Nyediminutive of Aneurin

Parry

Taliesin

Taran/Tarian 

Which Welsh names do you like?bab

Subscribe to our newsletter

* indicates required

comments

29 Responses to “Welsh Baby Names: Which way to go? Cai, Dai or Elvis?”

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

iamamiam Says:

August 29th, 2013 at 12:00 am

Didn’t realize Meredith was Welsh…no wonder I like it! Other favorites are Eira, Seren, Arwen, Carys, and Evan. Sian is new to me, that is a nice variation. I also like Aderyn (which wasn’t listed here) but unfortunately I don’t like the correct pronunciation with the emphasis on the second syllable.

alphabetdem Says:

August 29th, 2013 at 12:02 am

Wow, the Welsh names are pretty heavy! They feel like they belong in a different era. A lot of them, like Winifred, Meredith, Lloyd/Floyd, definitely are old-fashioned sounding, I don’t know if they’re quite ready for a revival.

Confession: I love Llewellyn. It is a total GP name. It connotes such a gentlemanly, sweet man to me that I can’t help but swoon over it. I know a lot of people aren’t ready for it to come back, but I think it might be one of the next ‘hip’ names a la Clementine or Marnie. I really hope I’m not the only one, at least.

Others I like: Arthur (a family name for me), Rhiannon, Isolde (another GP!), Aurona, Owen, Aeron, Gwendolyn

iamamiam Says:

August 29th, 2013 at 12:19 am

Is it really Aurona or is that supposed to be Aurora? Can’t find any additional info on Aurona.

augusta_lee Says:

August 29th, 2013 at 12:29 am

Great post! I wonder if Welsh names will be the new Irish names?

I love Morgan (though ONLY for a boy) and Winifred. Both are on my list. Isolde is a longtime favorite. I can see Carys, Seren, Bethan, Ria, Gwyneth, Rhys, Vaughan, and Garth/Gareth catching on in America. I really like Osian, Lowri, Llewellyn, Eira, Eluned, Nesta, Nerys, Rhiannon, Cai, Gwynno (LOVE!), Idris and Taliesin. Iago is such a great name, but unusable thanks to the villain.

handsallover Says:

August 29th, 2013 at 1:53 am

Great blog, thank you! Welsh names are absolutely wonderful, I like a lot. I love Gwendolen, Winifred, Eluned and Rhiannon for girls and Arthur, Cecil, Dylan, Gareth and Gwynno for boys. And names from The King Arthur legends are fantastic – Bedivere, Taliesin, Ceridwen, Guinevere.

seabold Says:

August 29th, 2013 at 2:09 am

I had Bronwen, Enid, Isolde and Eluned on my girl’s list for this baby (although DH was never a fan of any of them). However, he’s a boy! We’re going with Mordecai and Cai is our go-to nickname.

maggiemary Says:

August 29th, 2013 at 5:12 am

As I have said many times on Nameberry, I’m a 1/4 Welsh, as my grandfather is a Welshman. I love Welsh names. However, the reality is, that many of them look beautiful BUT their pronunciation is very different to how we think it will be. Take the name Briallen, which I adore, but it isn’t pronounced how it looks. Rather it’s pronounced as bree-ack-huhn. I’d hate to see Briallen become the Caitlin of Welsh names, i.e. where the original language pronunciation is lost to Americanization.

TaylorBlueSkye Says:

August 29th, 2013 at 5:39 am

I agree with maggiemary, I think it’s super important to go with the original pronunciation. Just out of respect of the culture.

hermione_vader Says:

August 29th, 2013 at 7:20 am

Iago is evil in OTHELLO, not Macbeth (Shakespeare plays are not interchangeable), and I thought it also had Italian roots as well. I know its Nameberry page advises against this, but I say it’s time to take Iago back for the good guys since it’s a beautiful offbeat name with that -o ending everyone loves right now.

My favorite names featured here would be Gwyneth, Rowena, Morgan (for either gender), Arthur, Dylan, Evan, Griffith, Owen, Rhys, Carys, Cerys, Seren, Arwen, Rhiannon, Cai, Iago, Idris, and Taran. It’s too bad Briallen isn’t pronounced like it looks because it’s such a pretty-looking name, but “bree-ack-huhn” doesn’t sound so pleasant to my ears. Still, most of these names are fantastic.

maggiemary Says:

August 29th, 2013 at 8:17 am

Hermione – trust me, if you heard Briallen pronounced in a proper Welsh accent, it sounds utterly gorgeous. The end of the ‘ack’ and the beginning of the ‘huhn’ sound kind of blend into each other, so it’s a guttural sound, and if pronounced correctly I think it’s beautiful.

detty Says:

August 29th, 2013 at 8:56 am

I live in rural wales and know an Emrys and a Glyn. Colin and Gavin are popular here. The most commonly shared names here are the surnames, to name a few…:

Thomas
Bowen
Bowden
Williams
Jones
Bucknell
Bennett
Davies
Bainbridge
Price
Carter
Evans

Also many people here for some reason use their middles as unofficial first names… not sure why??

Alexia Mae Says:

August 29th, 2013 at 10:54 am

My favorite Welsh name is Maewyn.

Alexia Mae Says:

August 29th, 2013 at 10:54 am

Oh, and also Ellowyn 🙂

Coolcombination Says:

August 29th, 2013 at 10:55 am

I live in South Wales which is the more englishy side and names common to me are,
Rhian
Rhiannon
Bryn
Sian
Iona
Lloyd
Evan
Mostyn
Ieuan
Gwyn

And i have to agree with detty on the surnames my last name is Evans and I shared it with 4 others in a class of 20!

niteowl13 Says:

August 29th, 2013 at 11:35 am

My name is Welsh! I am disappointed that it wasn’t mentioned in this blog. It’s Glenys.

Rainbow101 Says:

August 29th, 2013 at 11:44 am

I adore Elvis, the name and the famous singer!!! Elvis Michael is our sons name!

GrecianErn Says:

August 29th, 2013 at 2:22 pm

My very Irish friend named her son Dallan, accent on the last “a”.

I’ve never heard of it, and thought some of you Berries may have?

I’ve been in love with her name since college – Sorcha, pronounced “Soar-hah”

milliejones Says:

August 29th, 2013 at 4:00 pm

Love this post! Although I don’t have a Welsh name, half of my family are from Wales so they have names like Denys, Gwendolen, Olwen, Glenys and Glyn, and all of our surnames are Evans and Jones. Absolutely love Arwen, Iola, Eira, Seren, Cai, Meredith and Owen. So pretty and flow nicely 🙂

Anotherkate Says:

August 29th, 2013 at 6:49 pm

I loved Llewellyn, loved it, but had to give it up from my list because I just knew that ll sound would be too much for non welsh English speakers… Plus it’s too difficult for me to say quickly and loudly, so I know I’d revert to the plain L sound.

I really like Meredith for either gender, but my bff as a child was a girl Meredith so it’s hard for me to not think of/prefer it on a girl.

Janis0616 Says:

August 29th, 2013 at 11:42 pm

most of these pronunciations can be found on forvo.com

Mischa Says:

August 30th, 2013 at 11:50 am

This website wouldn’t allow me to leave a reply when this blog was posted so I’m a bit late. There are so many Welsh names that I love fron these lists.

GIRLS

Bronwen
Gwen
Meredith (one of my faves)
Morgan
Rhona
Rhonwen
Rowena
Winifred – love!
Ffion
Anwen
Arwen
Aurona
Briallen
Deryn
Eira
Eluned
Iola
Iona
Isolde
Mairwen
Nerys
Olwen
Rhiannon
Sian

I love Elowen too!

BOYS

Aeron – I do prefer the Biblical Aaron
Cai – I like Kai too!
Dai – mn only
Glyn – mn only
Gwynno (although it does remind me of gyno)
Idris (also used in the Arab world)
Lleu – mn only
Parry – I do love Perry too!
Taliesin – would this be hard for a boy to pull off?
Arthur
Evan
Gareth
Griffin/Griffith
Llewelyn
Meredith
Morgan
Rhys
Vaughan
Winston
Gethin

I like Trevor, Talfryn and Gwynfor as well.

Haannahh Says:

August 30th, 2013 at 4:54 pm

I am welsh, spent alot of time there. My mother was born there, she would love any of these names on her soon to be grandchild…..hmmm 🙂

tori101 Says:

August 30th, 2013 at 5:22 pm

Being in England Welsh names are everywhere. My best friend is Welsh she’s Katie and her sister is Carys, their from the valleys and their first language is Welsh. Nameberry seems obsessed with Welsh names but I know loads of Carys/Cerys and Seren’s it just seems slightly dull. However saying that I totally see the appeal and their are beautiful Welsh classics like Bronwen which feel mythical and majestic. Even though their are stunning Welsh names out there I prefer Irish names in my head Caitlin and Niamh are far prettier then Carys and Seren. Saying that Irish names are really popular I mean the other day I came across three Niamh’s one after the other.

strawberrytree Says:

August 30th, 2013 at 7:26 pm

When living in England, I had many students with Welsh names- Bethan and Sian were two of my favourites. Now living on the other side of the Atlantic, my husband and I have a toddler named Gareth and while we love it (and name nerds often gush over it!) most people we encounter are unfamiliar with it. Rowena and Iona are two of my top picks if this baby is a girl.

I think as Irish names become more mainstream, name nerds looking for something a bit less known will begin to embrace Welsh names. I see Arwen, Carys, and Seren frequently suggested on baby name forums.

stripedsocks Says:

September 1st, 2013 at 7:20 am

Are Iola and Iona with an eye-sound on the front, or an ee or a yo- sound? I’ve heard Iolo said “yolo” which…is going to get wrecked out here in Oz. I have heard eye-own-a out here?

If it’s an eye sound on Iola and Iona I could see them being a fresh alternative to Isla.

And Ria… is that ree-ah, or something more complicated?

JEMama Says:

September 3rd, 2013 at 10:44 pm

I live in the United State, and have a daughter named Bronwen. We get compliments on her name all the time, I love that we chose it and now at 9 she has really grown into her name. It fits her so well. My only dislike is that most people have no clue how to spell or say it.

IamMJ Says:

October 3rd, 2013 at 5:30 pm

What about Addiena? I believe its a welsh name meaning beautiful. I love it and am currently torn between it and Seren if this baby is a girl.

jkmorgan Says:

October 8th, 2013 at 1:38 pm

So glad to see my daughter’s name Arwen getting some love.

gmdx Says:

July 16th, 2015 at 12:59 am

Slightly disappointed to learn that I’ve been mispronouncing Briallen, but I am starting to fall in love with the proper pronunciation. I am really disappointed that the pronunciation issues are knocking it farther into guilty pleasure territory. 🙁

leave a reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.