15 Uncommon Celtic Names for Boys

Sep 25th 2017

It’s tough these days to walk onto a playground and not hear “Liam,” “Owen,” or “Connor.” Today’s moms and dads have embraced the Celtic sound, and for good reason - these names balance a boyish vibe with friendliness and flair. However, finding an appealing name in this style that’s not taken by five other boys in his class - there’s the challenge!

Here are fifteen names that fit the bill - masculine and modern, these names all have an amicable feeling and Celtic background without being too popular. If you’re looking for a name outside the top 500 for your little one, this is the list for you.


Image: Thierry Maffeis/Shutterstock

Lorcan. With the fabulous meaning of “little fierce one,” Lorcan is a force to be reckoned with. It’s fairly popular in Ireland, being the name of several ancient Irish kings, but this handsome choice has yet to cross the pond. Might Lorcan soon join the ranks of modern favorites Landon and Logan?

Teague. Now that Teagan has been claimed by the girls, Teague feels like an ideal alternative for the boys. It comes from the name Tadhg, meaning “poet,” and would work well as an honorific for a writer. Teague also fits well with the modern trend towards surnames-as-first-names, if you’re a fan of the style.

Eamon. Pronounced “AY-mun,” this name might cause some confusion at first - but it has so many wonderful qualities that it’s more than worth it. It’s an Irish form of the name Edmund, with plenty of namesakes in history, politics, and entertainment. With a dapper tone and a friendly vibe, Eamon is an uncommon choice just ripe for the picking.

Angus. While the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand have embraced this vintage choice, the United States has yet to follow suit. In Celtic mythology, Angus was the god of love and youth - an inspiring backstory. The nickname Gus is darling, but longer form Angus feels rugged, adventurous, and retro to boot.

Colman. Sources vary on Colman’s history - it’s either an Irish derivative of Columba, or an occupational surname variation. Either way, Colman fits in well with contemporary picks like Cole or Colin, but maintains its own refined air. In addition, Colman has a long history as both a royal name and a saint’s name, adding to its charm.

Murphy. Cute on a boy and confident on a man, Murphy has an unparalleled personality. It’s the most popular surname in Ireland, which could appeal to American parents honoring their ancestral roots. While the television show “Murphy Brown” focused on a female lead, Murphy is the kind of name that wears well on both boys and girls.

Lachlan. Originally a Scottish name for Norse invaders, Lachlan could work well for families with both Scandinavian and Celtic heritage. This dashing choice has been worn by athletes, politicians, and musicians, making it an attractive name for all types. It’s particularly popular in Australia, but currently only ranks at #700 on the US top 1000.

Finnian. With the rise of adorable Finn, many parents are on the lookout for a longer form that adds more substance to the stylish pick. Why not choose classic Finnian? It was worn by several Irish saints, and graced the Broadway stage in “Finian’s Rainbow.” Simple yet sweet, Finnian is a great mix of history and the here-and-now.

Conall. Strong and sophisticated, Conall is a great substitute for popular Connor with a more unusual vibe. The name adorns a hero in Irish legend, as well as both a king and a saint in the Middle Ages, making it an especially noble option. Conall comes from a name meaning “strong as a wolf” - a cool trait for a marvelous name.

Duncan. An historically royal Scottish name, debonair Duncan is also known for it’s literary prominence - it’s featured in all kinds of classic writing, from Shakespeare to Cooper to Irving. Kids will appreciate the connection to Thomas the Tank Engine, as well as A Series of Unfortunate Events. Despite its pop culture prestige, Duncan has always flown just under the radar in name trends, giving it a sense of timelessness.

Torin. From an Irish Gaelic word meaning “chief,” Torin is a more accessible alternative to Thor and a more unique alternative to Tristan. While it fits in with modern sounds, Torin has never ranked on the US top 1000, making it rather uncommon. If you’re looking for a name that’s both pleasant and powerful, Torin might be the choice for you.

Brogan. While this name sounds like a combination of Brody and Logan, Brogan is actually an old Irish surname with a jovial vibe. It’s been used for both boys and girls, but Brogan fits in better with names like Brandon and Brady. Saint Brogan was the nephew and scribe of Saint Patrick, adding another Irish connection.

Kiernan. A variation of Kieran, Kiernan is another Celtic surname with an historic background centuries old. Though the most notable namesake is actress Kiernan Brennan Shipka, the name works well for both genders. This lovely choice - meaning “little dark one” - has a kind and spirited personality.

Dermot. Dermot is a modern variation on the name of a warrior from Irish mythology, as well as the name of some early Celtic kings and saints. Modern actor Dermot Mulroney helped make it familiar in the US, but this gorgeous choice has yet to be popularized. Cheerful nickname Derry makes it a bit more friendly as well.

Thane. A title for certain noblemen in ancient Scotland, Thane is a suave option that’s similar to favorites Shane and Zane. It’s been recorded in the US as far back as 1916, but has never been used for more than 58 boys in any given year. An old-fashioned yet edgy choice, Thane is a memorable name with style.

Comments

1
September 25, 2017 3:43 PM

Anyone looking for a Celtic name should note that the definition of Celtic here is, um, elastic. Thane, for example, is Old English (Anglo-Saxon) borrowed in Scotland to replace a Gaelic term. Liam is a nickname for William which is a Germanic bithematic name.

As usual, Ms. Cardoza's columns should be approached with caution as to accuracy.

2
September 26, 2017 2:07 AM

Will approach with caution. God knows names are life and death, Miriam. Lighten up!

3
September 26, 2017 10:45 AM

Many people feel that a name's "meaning" or language of origin is important. Unfortunately much of the information about names available online is simply incorrect. Ms. Cardoza is a serial offender in this regard. Almost all of her columns contain errors. So if someone is set on a Celtic name for reasons of family heritage, that person should be warned that Thane ain't it. 

Names might not be a matter of life and death,  but there is a lot of research on the importance of name in the formation of identity and in determining how people are perceived. Not trivial....

4
September 27, 2017 12:24 PM

Thanks, as always, for your insisghts, Miriam. I always laugh when people say things like "Liam is an Irish name." ;-)
Another source for Duncan love could be for GRRM fans who enjoyed the Dunk & Egg stories. It makes me feel positive toward the "Dunk" nickname that Duncan might inspire.

5
September 28, 2017 2:45 PM

@AJ with3boys: That's exactly why I adore Duncan! Any son of mine is guaranteed to be over 6' in height, Making Duncan very appropriate. I also adore Lorcan, Angus, Conall & Torin (Which I always thought meant "thunder" not "chief") but that may be the diffrence between Irish Gaelic &Scots Gaelic for all I know!

6
September 27, 2017 7:55 PM

Everyone is so critical of Emily's posts!! Good grief. I agree with Nancy Kay. People need to stop being so critical of each other, and of the writer. If you don't like her posts, don't read them.

7
September 27, 2017 10:02 PM

Laura herself has established a high standard of quality with her own well-researched and informative posts to this blog over many years.  It is therefore disappointing to long-time readers when we come here only to find drivel such as Ms. Cardoza tends to post.  If I wanted to read that, I would go to Nameberry or some such, where there is no particular expectation of quality.  I would much prefer for the blog to have fewer posts, all by Laura as they used to be, than more frequent ones that serve no real purpose other than to increase traffic to the site.

 

Miriam, I appreciate your notes on the inaccuracies in this list as well as your comments on the topic of onomastics in general, as always!

8
September 27, 2017 10:36 PM

mollycatherine, that's exactly the point of my comments. BNW and behindthename are two of the very few accurate and worthwhile name sites on the web. Most of the name "information" online is rubbish. When people come here they are seeking reliable information on names, and mostly that is what they get. Except for Ms. Cardoza's very iffy blog posts. Readers should be aware that if Ms. Cardoza's subject matter is important to them, her information is not reliable. This has been pointed out frequently by a number of contributors, not just me, but Ms. Cardoza has yet to up her research game.

 

 

9
September 28, 2017 11:18 AM

@Nancy Kay and @ivymae, the thing is, this isn't a case of Ms. Cardoza's opinion vs. Miriam's opinion: Ms. Cardoza is stating things as fact which are not actually true. And she keeps doing it, even after her errors are repeatedly pointed out.

I mean, if you want to get your news from The Onion and National Enquirer, it's a free country and you can screw with yourself however you want (to use one of my mother's favorite expressions), but if I'm reading the New York Times, or even my hometown newspaper, I expect real news, not made-up stories. Same here: if you want to get your name "meanings" from some random "1,000,000 Wonderful Unique Baby Names" website, it's your kid, but people who come to Baby Name Wizard expect to read insightful and accurate name commentary. This is why we appreciate it when Miriam points out the inaccuracies, and why we're increasingly disappointed that Ms. Cardoza doesn't seem to be able to learn from her mistakes.

10
October 2, 2017 12:16 PM

I know that I can't be the only one who enjoys these posts specifically for Miriam's corrections! 

11
October 3, 2017 3:50 PM

I would add Fergus to the list- my sister named her son that and is very happy that it's a good sturdy name with Celtic background (fits well with her husband's heritage and Mac... surname), but not overused.