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Scottish Names

Celtic names and language are at their strongest in the highlands and islands where outside influence was weakest. Some Norse borrowings occurred and forms of Christian names and anglicisations are included.

The letter ‘z’ is usually pronounced like ‘y’ in ‘yes’ (Dalziel - Dee-ell). As in England, ‘u’ and ‘v’ were virtually interchangeable until the C14th and the letter ‘j’ rarely occurred, with ‘i’ being used instead.

Naming Patterns

Until as recently as the C19th, it was common for Scots to follow a conventional pattern of naming a child after various relatives. When a child died in infancy, the name was often re-used for the next baby. A surviving child could have the same name as a half-brother or sister if one parent had re-married.

Child

Relative

Eldest son Paternal grandfather
Second son Maternal grandfather
Third son Father
Eldest daughter Maternal grandmother
Second daughter Paternal grandmother
Third daughter Mother
Others Aunts and Uncles

Scottish Names of Celtic Origin

Male

Gaelic Forms

English Forms

Diminutives

Origin and Meaning

Adair      
Aed, Aodh   Aidan, Edan, Iagan, Aogán, Aodhagán 'fire'
Ailig      
Ailin, Ailean, Ailene Alan    
Ailpein Alpin   Pictish?
Alguine, Algune      
Aonghas, Aenghus Angus, Innes   'one choice'
Arcill      
Arran     Placename
Artan, Artain, Atan?     'bear'?
Artair Arthur    
Athairne      
Athol, Atholl, Athole     ‘new Ireland’?
Baíthín, Batín      
Beathan, Bean    

Beatha 'life'

Bhàbair      
Blaine     (S)
Blair     'field' (S)
Brechin      
Bróccín      
Bruce      
Caerell, Caerill      
Cainnech, Coinneach, Cainnec, Cannech, Caennaig?, Cainnaig? Kenneth   'handsome/fair one'
Caoidhean, Caointean Quentin    
Ceanntighern Kentigern    
Cennédig Kennedy   ‘ugly head' (S)
Cinaed, Cinaeda, Cinatha Kenneth   ‘born of fire’?
Clivis      
Clyde     River name
Coimghilain      
Coll, Colla     'high'?
Colmac      
Comgeall, Comgell      
Comnhall     'wolf strong'
Conran      
Cormag, Cormaic     ‘corb’ defilement + ‘mac’ son
Cradoc      
Cramond      
Crawford      
Crinan      
Cuilén      
Culéoin, Culéon      
Denholm      
Deòiridh     'pilgrim'
Deònaid      
Diarmad, Diarmaid, Diarmid, Dermid Dermot   di’ without + ‘airmait’ envy ?
Domhnall, Domnaill, Domnall Donald, Donwald Donnaidh, Donaidh, Dolaidh, Dolly ‘dubno’ world + ‘val’ rule
Domongart      
Donnachac      
Donnchadh, Donchad Donnchad, Donnchid, Donnchaid, Dunnchaidh Duncan    
Dothaw      
Drostan Tristan?    
Dubhghall, Dùghal, Dùghall, Dugald Dougal Dougie ‘black stranger’
Dùbhghlas Douglas, Dowglass Doug, Dougie, Duggie ‘black stream’ (S)
Dubne, Dubni, Duibne      
Duff     ‘dubh’ dark/black (S)
Dungadr      
Duthac      
Eachann, Eacgann? Hector   ‘each’ horse + ‘donn’ brown
Eairdsidh      
Eallair, Ellar, Ceallair     butler/steward (cellarer)
Éda      
Éibhear      
Elphin      
Eòdhnag      
Eòghann Evan, Ewan, Ewen, Euan   born of the yew?
Erskine      
Fagan      
Fearchar, Fearachar Farquhar   'man' + 'deer'
Fearghas Fergus    
Feradac, Feradach      
Ferdomnac, Ferdomnach, Ferdomnaig      
Fillan      
Finguine, Finguni      
Fionnghal Finngall, Fingal   'white/fair' + 'stranger'
Fionnlagh, Fhionnlaigh, Fionnla Finlay, Finley   'white/fair + laogh 'warrior' or 'calf'
Fionnsaidh      
Gartnait, Garnait      
Giric      
Gordon      
Guinoch      
Idad, Ided, Idid, Hidid      
Keith     'woods' (S)
Kevoca      
Kirk     'church' (S)
Lachlan, Lachlann, Lachan, Lochlann, Lochlyn   Lachie, Lachy from Norway, land of the lochs?
Léod, Léot      
Lulach, Luloig      
Mac-Bead, Mec-Bead      
Mac-Bethad      
Mac-Dobarchon, Mac-Dubbacín, Meic-Dobarchon, Meic-Dobarcon, Meic-Dubbacín      
Machan      
Madoes      
Maelrubha Maree, Maurie    
Matadín      
Matain      
Matne, Matni      
Meldin      
Modan      
Molíne      
Molloch      
Monance      
Morcunn, Morcunt, Morgant      
Morgainn, Morgann, Morgunn      
Muireadhach, Muiredach, Muireach, Muredig, Moridac, Murchadh Murray, Murdoch Murdo, Murdie, Murdy, Murdanie  
Mungan      
Mungo      
Nathalan      
Neachdann Nechtan, Nectan Naughton  

Necht 'pure'

Niall Neill, Nele, Neyll Neillie

cloud/passionate/champion?

Niallghus     'Niall' + gus 'strength'
Ninian      
Oisein Ossian  

‘os’ deer

Osgar Oscar  

‘os’ deer + ‘cara’ friend

Ruairidh, Ruaraidh, Ruairi, Ruadrí Roderick, Rory Roddy 'red' + 'king'
Seaghdh     hawklike/fine/godly?
Serf      
Sìoltach, Sioltaich Sholto   'sower/fruitful'
Siridean      
Síthech      
Síthig     'steward' (S)
Stewart, Stuart      
Tadhg, Taogh     poet/philosopher
Teosag      
Toirdhealbhach, Teàrlach     instigator
Torin      
Tráillín, Trálín      
Uarraig     ‘uall’ pride + ‘garg’ fierce
Wallace     (S)

Female

Gaelic Forms

English Forms

Diminutives

Meanings

Ailbhe      
Ailsa     ‘island of Alfsigr’ (P)
Aiobheann, Aoibheann      
Alana     Fem of Alan
Angusina     Fem of Angus
Athracht Attracta    
Beak      
Beathag    

beatha life

Beigis, Bege      
Brenda     'brand/flaming sword'
Brighid, Brighde, Bríd Bridget Bridie  
Ciannait Canne, Canny    
Ciostas      
De      
Deirbhile     'daughter of the poet?'
Deòiridh     'pilgrim'
Deredere Deirdre?    
Diorbhail, Diorbhall, Diorbhorguil Devorgilla   ‘true testimony'
Donella, Dolina, Dolanna, Donalda, Donna   Doileag, Dolag, Dollag, Dolly Fem of Donald
Éadaoin      
Eamhair, Éimhear      
Eri      
Eriu      
Ete      
Euna Una   Hunger
Faoiltiarna      
Fiona     'white/fair' (inv)
Fionnghuala, Fionnuala, Fionnaghal Fionola, Fionoula, Fenella   'white/fair' + ?
Fionnsgoth      
Forveleth      
Garniflaith      
Gelis, Gelleys      
Gormlaith Gormelia   ‘splendid princess’
Grainne Grania    
Ina      
Kennethina     Fem of Kenneth
Isla     Placename 'Islay'
Lachina     Fem of Lachlann?
Luíseach      
Molmoria      
Mór, Mórag, Morag, Mora   Moirin 'great'
Morven      
Muadhnait      
Muireall Muriel    
Muirgoed      
Muirne Morna   'beloved'
Munga      
Murdina, Murdann   Murdag, Dina Fem of Murdo
Neilina     Fem of Neil
Odhamnait      
Oighrig, Aithbreac, Eiric, Eithrig, Eihrig Affrica, Africa, Efric Effie new speckled one?
Órfhlaith    

‘or’ gold + ‘flaith’ lady

Osla      
Raonaid      
Rhona, Rona      
Rinalda, Rinalde      
Rioghnach      
Rodina      
Senga    

seang 'slender' (or Agnes)

Seosaimlún      
Sighte      
Sorcha     'brightness'
Swannoc, Suannoch      
Sydoc, Sydok      
Teàrlag     fem of Teàrlach
Triduana      
Trollhaena      

Scottish Names of Biblical Origin

Male

Given Name and Variants

Diminutives

English form

Ádhamh, Ádam, Eunan, Eodhnag, Adaidh Ádhamhnán Adam
Aindrea, Aindrias, Anndra   Andrew
Crisdean, Kester Christal Christopher
Dàibhidh   David
Dàniel   Daniel
Iain, Ian, Eòin, Seathan, Seonaidh   John
Ióseph, Seósaidh, Seòsaidh Josie Joseph
Lùcas   Luke
Matha, Mata   Matthew
Mìcheal   Michael
Pàdair, Peidearan, Pàra   Peter
Pàl   Paul
Pàrlan   Bartholomew?
Saichairi   Zachary
Seoc, Jock, Seocan, Jockan   Jack
Seumas, Hamish   James
Sìmidh Sìm Simon
Solamh   Solomon
Steaphan, Stiabhan   Stephen
Tòmas, Tòmag, Tàmhas Tòmachan, Thomas

Female

Given Name and Variants

Diminutives

English form

Annag Nandag Anna, Nanny
Beitidh   Betty
Cristíona, Cairistíona, Caairistine, Criosaidh, Stineag Ciorstaidh, Curstaidh, Ciorstag, Curstag, Ciorsdan, Chirsty, Kirsty, Kirstie Christine
Ealasaid, Eilísh, Elspeth Elspie, Elsa Elisabeth
Eubh, Eubha, Éabha Eby?  
Iseabail, Iosbail, Ishbel, Isbel Beileag, Bellag Isabel
Jamesina   Fem of James
Joina   Fem of Joseph
Madailéin   Madeleine
Màiri, Mhairi, Maille, Màili, Màireag, Moira Moirean Mary
Sìne, Sheena, Siubhan, Sìonag, Seonag, Seonaid, Deònaid, Shona Jeanie, Jenny, Jessie, Sìneag, Sinnie? Teasag Jane
Siùsan Siùsaidh Susan

Scottish Religious Names

With the spread of Christianity, bynames incorporating ‘giolla’ (servant) or ‘maol’ (follower or devotee) developed. These remain in use as surnames.

Given Name and Variants

Diminutives

Meaning

Gille Easbaig, Gilleasbaig, Archibald Beistean, Beistan, Eairdsidh, Eairrsidh, Archy servant of the bishop
Gille Iosa, Gillies, Gillas   servant of Jesus
Gille Naomh Naoimhean, Niven   servant of the saint
Gille-Aindréis, Gille Anndrais, Gillanders   servant of St Andrew
Gille-Brigte, Gille Brigde, Gileabart   servant of St Bridget
Gille-Callíne   servant of
Gille-Coimded   servant of
Gille-Colaim   servant of
Gille-Críst   servant of Christ
Gille-Mícael, Gille-Míchéil, Gille-Míchél   servant of St. Michael
Gille-Petair, Gilli-Petair   servant of St. Peter
Mael-Bricín, Maíl-Bricín, Mal-Bricín   follower of
Mael-Brigte, Maíl-Brigte, Mal-Brigte, Moíl-Brigte, Melbrigda   follower of St Bridget
Mael-Féchín, Mael-Féichín, Mal-Féchín   follower of
Mael-Giric, Mal-Girc   follower of
Mael-Muire, Mal-Moire   follower of
Mael-Petir, Mal-Petir   follower of St. Peter
Mael-Snechta, Mal-Snecte   follower of
Maíl-Choluim, Mael-Coluim, Mal-Colaim, Mal-Coloum, Mal-Coluim, Mal-Colum, Malcolm   follower of Columba
Mal-æchín, Mal-échín   follower of
Male-Domni   follower of
Manchan    
Maoilios   follower of Jesus
Maol Diomhnaich, Mael-Domnig (Ludovic)   follower of the Lord

Scottish Names of Germanic Origin

Male

Given Name and Variants

Diminutives

English form

Ailbeart   Albert
Bearnard   Bernard
Bhàtair, Bhaltair, Batair   Walter
Cuithbeart, Cuithbrig   Cuthbert
Eanraig, Eanruig   Henry
Eideard, Eudard   Edward
Eumann   Edmund
Garaidh, Gary  

‘gar’ spear

Gearald   Gerald
Goiridh, Goraidh   Godfrey
Haral, Arailt   Harold
Luthais   Louis
Oilbhreis, Olghar   Oliver
Raibeart Roban Robert
Ruiseart   Richard
Tiobaid   Theobald
Uilleam Uilleachan, Uillidh, Builidh William

Female

Given Name and Variants

Diminutives

English form

Aibhlin, Aileen, Ailen, Eibhlin, Eileen, Evaleen   Aveline
Ailís   Alice
Hughina   Fem of Hugh
Ide   Ida
Normina, Normanna, Norma   Fem of Norman
Rois   Rose (OHG 'Hros' horse)

Scottish Names of Norse Origin

Male

Given Name and Variants

Diminutives

English form

Amhlaidh, Amhladh, Amlaibh, Aulag? Aulay   Olaf
Ìomhair, Ìmhear, Iomhar, Iomher   Ivor
Jarlath    
Keir, Kerr  

ON ‘kjarr’ wet ground + brushwood

Raghnall, Ranald, Ronald, Randal   ON Ragnvald
Sghàire  

ON sea-mew?

Somerled, Summerlad, Somhairle, Sorley  

'summer traveller'

Tasgall, Taskill  

ON Asketill

Torcail, Torcall, Torquil  

ON Thorketill

Tormod, Tormailt  

ON Tormodr

Tormond    
Uisdean, Huisdean  

ON Eysteinn forever + stone (or Hugh)

Female

Given Name and Variants

Diminutives

English form

Raghnaid - Ragnhild   ON Ragnhild
Ronalda   Fem of Ronald
Thora   ON fem of Thor

Scottish Names of Greek Origin

Male

Alasdair, Alistair, Alisdair, Alister, Alaster, Allaster, Aly, Alick, Ellic, Ulick, Ailig, Sandaidh, Sawney, Sandy, Elshender - Alexander
Benneit - Benedict
Calum, Callum, Cailean, Colbán - Columba
Cliamain - Clement
Còiseam - Constantine
Filib - Philip
Frang, Frangan - Francis
Griogair, Griogal, Gregor - Gregory
Labhrainn, Labhruinn - Lawrence
Luthais – Louis
Magnus, Mánas - Latin, great
Màrtainn - Martin
Mharcuis, Marcas, Marquis - Marcus
Neacal Nicol - Nicholas
Pàdraig, Pàidean – Patrick
Quivox
Seòras, Deòrsa – George
Tiobaid - Theobald
Ualan, Uailean, Ualean – Valentine

Female

Aigneis, Innes? – Agnes
Ailís
Aimil
Aingeal, Aingealag - Angela
Alexina, Alickina, Zena
Alexis
Barabal - Barbara
Bearnas - Bernice
Beitiris, Beitris - Beatrice
Bhictoria - Victoria
Caitríona, Catríona, Catriona, Caitrín, Caitir, Ceit, Ceitag, Ceiteag, Catrina, Katrine - Katherine
Calumina, Calaminag - Columba
Eilidh, Ailie, Ellie - Helen
Eilionor - Eleanor
Esmé, Ismay? Edmé, Edmeé - Fr ‘esmer’ to love
Floraidh, Flora, Florrie - Latin, flower
Frangag - Frances
Hectorina
Leagsaidh - Lexy
Leitis
Liùsaidh - Lucy
Maighread, Mairead, Magaidh, Maisie, Masery, Maretta, Peigi, Peigin - Margaret
Malcomina, Malina
Marsaili, Mairsile, Marsle, - Marcella, Margery
Moibeal - Mabel?
Neilli - Nelly
Saundra
Sile, Sileas, Silis - Cecily

Scottish Names of Latin Origin

Male

Given Name and Variants

Diminutives

English form

Benneit   Benedict
Calum, Callum, Cailean, Colbán   Columba
Cliamain   Clement
Còiseam   Constantine
Frang Frangan  
Griogair, Griogal, Gregor   Gregory
Labhrainn, Labhruinn   Lawrence
Magnus, Mánas  

Latin, great

Màrtainn   Martin
Mharcuis, Marcas, Marquis   Marcus
Pàdraig, Pàidean   Patrick
Quivox    
Ualan, Uailean, Ualean   Valentine

Female

Given Name and Variants

Diminutives

English form

Aimil   Emily
Aingeal, Aingealag   Angela
Beitiris, Beitris   Beatrice
Bhictoria   Victoria
Calumina, Calaminag   Fem of Calum (Columba)
Esmé, Ismay? Edmé, Edmeé  

Fr ‘esmer’ to love?

Floraidh, Flora Florrie Flora
Frangag   Frances
Leitis   Letitia?
Liùsaidh   Lucy
Malcomina, Malina   Fem of Malcolm
Marsaili, Mairsile, Marsle   Marcella or Margery
Moibeal   Mabel?
Sile, Sileas, Silis   Cecily

Scottish Surnames

Clans

The following surnames are all clan names with their own tartans, often more than one kind i.e. ‘hunting’ and ‘dress’. Some have several branches in different areas which have separate chiefs and tartans. Most clans have several other surnames within them.
Angus Armstrong Baillie Baird Barclay Bisset
Brodie Bruce Buchan Buchanan Cameron crooked nose Campbell crooked mouth
Chattan Chisholm Clark Cochrane Cockburn Colquhoun
Comyn Crawford Dalziel Davidson Douglas Drummond
Dunbar Dundas Elliot Erskine Farquharson Ferguson
Fletcher Forbes - forba field/district Fraser de Frisselle, O Fr strawberry? Galbraith Gordon Gow
Graham Grant Gunn Hamilton flat topped hill Hannay Hay
Henderson Innes Johnston Keith Kennedy - ‘ugly head’ Kerr
Lamont Leith Lennox Leslie placename, may be ‘leas cuilinn’ garden of hollies Lindsay placename Lindsey, Lincoln’s wetland Livingstone
Logan MacAlister MacAlpine MacArthur MacAulay MacBean
MacBride MacColl MacDonald MacDonell MacDougall MacDuff
MacEwan MacFarlane MacGillivray MacGregor MacInnes MacIntyre
MacKay MacKenzie MacKinley MacKinnon MacKintosh MacLachlan
MacLaine MacLaren MacLean MacLennan MacLeod MacMillan
MacNab MacNaughton MacNeil MacPhee MacPherson MacQuarrie
MacQueen MacRae Malcolm Matheson Maxwell Menzies
Moncreiffe Montgomerie Morrison Muir Munro Murray
Nicholson Nisbet Ogilvie Ramsay Robertson Rose
Ross Scott Shaw Sinclair Skene Stewart
Stuart Sutherland Teall Urquhart Wallace Wemyss
Wotherspoon Young        

Surnames

Many clan and family names are preceded by Mac- or ‘son of’ so were originally patronymics. Many surnames which are not recognised as a separate clan are associated with one and entitled to wear their chief’s tartan. From the C14th on, the Lowlanders were mostly speakers of Scots (a dialect of English) and the Highlanders of Gaelic. By the C15th, bynames and nicknames were becoming inherited surnames in the Lowlands and most people had a fixed family surname by the C16th. In the Highlands, patronymics continued to be used regularly into the C17th century and sometimes later. Until the C17th, a woman always retained her own byname or surname on marriage and it was not common practice for her to adopt her husband’s name until the late C19th or early C20th. Modern Scottish law tends to identify a woman by her original name.
Abercrombie Abercromby Abernethy Acheson Affleck Agnew
Aherne Ainslie Anstruther Arbuthnot Atholl Auchmulty
Auchnie Austin Bain Bane Bardon Begley
Bennie Berridge Berryman Bevan Bignal Birnie
Bleazard Bosanquet Boyd Brann Burke Burns
Caird Cardew Carrick Cattanach Cayzer Chalmers
Clunes Coinneach Corsie Craig Craigie Crerar
Crichton Cunningham Curwen Darroch Doig Dougan
Dow Dumbreck Duncan Dyer Elphinstone Esslemont
Fairlie Farquhar Farrell Fiddes Findlay Finlater
Foulis Gaffron Gale Gallacher Gallie Geddes
Gilzean Gough Hastie Hay Henderson Hendry
Jory Kenneil Kermode Kernuish Kiley Killeen
Kinnear Kirbishly Kivlochan Knock Kyle strait/channel Lamond
Lauder Lithgow Lloyd Lochhead Lochore Lyall ON ‘Liulfr’ ? + wolf
Lyle from the island MacAlonie MacAra MacArdle MacArtney MacAsgill
MacAskie MacAuliffe MacAuslane MacAvoy Macbeth MacBradden
MacBrayne MacCaig MacCall MacCallum MacCambridge MacCarlich
MacCaw MacChrystal MacClacher MacClelland MacClements MacClintock
MacCloy MacClung MacCombie MacCorkill MacCosh MacCrimmon
MacCrindell MacCrum MacCulloch MacCurtin MacCutcheon MacDade
MacDerment MacDonaugh MacDougal MacDougall MacDuffie MacEachan
MacElfrish MacEwing MacFadzean MacFeat MacFee MacFetridge
Macfie MacGachan MacGeechan MacGhie MacGibbon MacGill
MacGlashan MacGowing MacGugan MacHardie MacHendrie MacHutchin
MacIan MacIlraith MacIlroy MacIlvain MacIndeor MacIvor
MacJarrow MacKail MacKechie MacKeith MacKellar Mackie
MacKillop MacKimmie MacKinder MacKinlay MacKinley MacKissack
MacLay MacLeay MacLeish MacManus MacMarquis MacMaster
MacMichael MacMinn MacMurchie MacNair MacNicol MacNidder
MacOmish MacPartland MacPheeters MacQuilly MacQuistan MacRaith
MacRanald MacRory MacRuer MacSporran MacTaggart MacTavish
MacTurk MacVarish MacVurich MacWatters MacWhirter MacWilliams
Malise Malloch Marnoch Mcclung McGahey Mcgreal
Mcilwraith McKelvey Mclatchie McNish Meikle Millar
Moffat Moir Monteith Mundy Murchie Nairn
Nance Naysmith Negus Ogg Opie Paisley
Pascoe Peden Penrose Pew Pitcairn Pitkeathy
Pollock Quarry Quiggin Rafter Rankeillor Reagh
Reive Rhoney Riach Riddoch Ring Ritshie
Ryan Scobie Sonnborn Soutar? Strachan Sullivan
Tosh Towrie Trease Trevean Trewen Uige
Vessy Weir Whearty Wynn    

Titles

toísech leader, chief
escob bishop
ab/abb abbot
mormaer similar to English earl
sacart priest
brithem judge

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