The Celtic language family includes Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Welsh, Breton, Manx, Cornish, and several extinct pre-Roman languages such as Gaulish. The languages and cultural traditions are still alive and well in many parts of the UK and the Republic of Ireland. Celtic baby names have been handed down for centuries and it’s exciting to find one you’ve never heard before. We decided to take a look at some rare Celtic finds to further enrich our knowledge of baby names. If you’re after a baby name that’s a bit more obscure but still has familiar charm, you’ve come to the right place. These names go beyond popular hits like Owen and Liam to appeal to parents who favor names off the beaten path. Here are 25 rare Celtic baby names for boys we think you’ll love.
The Scottish Gaelic name Alasdair means “defender of men.” It’s the preferred form of Alexander in the Highlands. You’ll more commonly find Alistair in the US, but we prefer the more traditional spelling.
Another Scottish name, Arran will be constantly confused with Aaron, but if you’ve got a lot of willpower it’s an excellent choice. It’s a place name and refers to Arran Island in Scotland’s Firth of Clyde. You don’t see the name often in the US but it’s the thirteenth most popular baby name in Scotland right now.
Bedwyr (Sir Bedivere) was one of King Arthur’s knights. The name may be derived from a proto-Celtic word that translates to “knower of the grave.” This Welsh name is pronounced Bed-weer. Definitely off the beaten path, this would be an adventurous choice.
Caedmon has deep Celtic origins and means “wise warrior.” It’s related to a more popular, Anglicized version Cadman. The name is pronounced the same, KAD-muhn. St. Caedmon was a Celt who was the first known poet of the vernacular in English.
Caradoc, Caradog, Cerdic, Cedric are all forms of the same name. Caradoc is the preferred Welsh form and our favorite. If you’re familiar with Arthurian legend, you know the name belonged to one of the knights of the round table. The name means “dearly loved.”
This Gaelic name might look like a mouthful, but Coinneach is simply pronounced CON-ak. It’s a variation of the name Kenneth. The name means “handsome one.”
Cormac isn’t nearly as popular in the US as it is in Ireland. The Gaelic name deserves some more love from Americans as it’s exceedingly strong and handsome. The name means “of a charioteer.” The name belonged to Cormac Mac Airt, one of the legendary high kings of Ireland.
This traditional Gaelic name can be found in a variety of forms throughout the Celtic nations. Famous examples include Scottish King Domnall, Irish High King Domhnall, actor Domhnall Gleeson. It’s another form of the name that’s fallen from favor, Donald. It means “ruler.”
The preferred Irish form of Edward, Eamon has its own charms. Pronounced, AY-mon this name can also be spelled Eamonn. It means “wealthy protector.”
Farrell is an uncommon given name in the US. This Gaelic name takes a few different forms including Fergal and Fearghal. The name means “one is courageous.” If you’re looking for a unique alternative to Darryl, this would be the one.
Fergus us a Gaelic name that can be found in both Scottish and Irish traditions. This slightly quirky name means “man of force.” Fergus I is a mythological first king of Scotland, and the name is also borne by High Kings of Ireland. Sir Fergus was one of the knights of the round table.
Hueil was the legendary son of Caw and an “active warrior and most distinguished soldier,” who led a number of violent and sweeping raids from Scotland down into Arthur’s territory. The name can be found in a variety of different spellings. So storied is the name that it’s come to mean “enemy of Arthur.”
Both Keenan and Keane come from the same origin, Cian. The name can be found throughout the Celtic tradition. It means “ancient.” In Ireland, the spelling Cian is the favorite, but we prefer Keane to help make this name even easier.
Keir is a single-syllable name that packs a lot of punch. The name is pronounced Keer. The Irish Gaelic form of this name means “dark” or “black.”
William Thomson, Lord Kelvin was a mathematical physicist whose work on finding absolute zero led to the Kelvin temperature scale, with zero at the bottom. Kelvin is a Scottish name that refers to someone from “near the river.”
Several medieval saints were named Laisren. It’s an Irish name that means “flame.” If you really want to get fancy and traditional with it, you can spell the name: Laisrén.
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Llyr is a name of Welsh origin meaning “the sea.” The double “LL” sound is tricky for non-Welsh speakers, but we think you can get away with pronouncing the name as you would LEER. In Celtic legend, King Llyr is the father of Bran the Blessed and Bronwen, and is known as a god of the sea. That’s where the name meaning comes from!
Nealon is a form of the Gaelic name, Niall, which means “cloud” or “champion.” It’s like a fancier version of Neil.
Nels is a popular Celtic name that refers to a “chief” or as the “son of Neil.” However, if you travel to Sweden, you’ll find it there as the preferred form of Nicholas. Nels sounds casual and fun.
Riordan is more popular as a last name but may be used as a first name to honor a family name. We love that it sounds similar to Jordan or Jaden. The name is pronounced REER-den. It means “royal poet.”
Okay, so you’ve probably heard of Rowan, but it’s such a great name for both boys and girls we couldn’t pass up putting it on this list. Rowan is a Gaelic name that means “red hair.” You’ll also commonly see the variation, Ronan.
Like Rowan, Sheridan is another excellent gender-neutral name. Sheridan had a moment 100 years ago in the US, but it isn’t heard often. This popular Irish name means “searcher.”
Teague is a Scottish name that means “bard” or “poet.” You’ll also find the single-syllable name spelled, Tighe. Either, way we think it sounds like a cool choice.
Tiernan is rare in the U.S. but relatively common in Northern Ireland. A famous example is Tiernan, who was a 12th-century king of Breifne in Ireland. This Gaelic name means “little lord.”
Triton might conjure images of Greek god, but this form of the name (even though it’s spelled the same) actually has Celtic origins and is a diminutive of Tristan. In Arthurian legend, Tristan was a knight of the round table and unfortunate hero of the medieval tale Tristram and Isolde. Triton sounds very fun!
There you go! 25 Celtic names that you’ll find all over the Celtic nations, but have yet to find broad popularity in the US. We hope you enjoyed this list and feel inspired to choose one of these monikers for your son.
Andrew is a Chicago-based writer who enjoys finding the best of the internet, obsessively making lists, and cooking for friends. After studying Film and Art History, he developed a deep love for both topics. Celebrity news, pop culture, and stories that bring people together are his passions.
- 1 25. Alasdair
- 2 24. Arran
- 3 23. Bedwyr
- 4 22. Caedmon
- 5 21. Caradoc
- 6 20. Coinneach
- 7 19. Cormac
- 8 18. Domhnall
- 9 17. Eamon
- 10 16. Farrell
- 11 15. Fergus
- 12 14. Hueil
- 13 13. Keane
- 14 12. Keir
- 15 11. Kelvin
- 16 10. Laisren
- 17 9. Llyr
- 18 8. Nealon
- 19 7. Nels
- 20 6. Riordan
- 21 5. Rowan
- 22 4. Sheridan
- 23 3. Teague
- 24 2. Tiernan
- 25 1. Triton
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