Scottish names behind the name

Scottish names behind the name DEFAULT

Scottish Names

Short form of Abigail.

Africa 2fIrish, Scottish
Anglicized form of Aifric.

AidanmIrish, Scottish, English (Modern)
Anglicized form of Aodhán. In the latter part of the 20th century it became popular in America due to its sound, since it uses the same fashionable den suffix sound found in such names as Braden and Hayden.

AifricfIrish, Scottish
Possibly means "pleasant" in Irish.

Scottish form of Alice.

AileenfScottish, Irish, English
Variant of Eileen.

Scottish Gaelic form of Alpin.

From Ailsa Craig, the name of an island off the west coast of Scotland, which is of uncertain derivation.

Scottish form of Andrew.

Ainsleyf & mScottish, English (Modern)
From a surname that was from a place name: either Annesley in Nottinghamshire or Ansley in Warwickshire. The place names themselves derive from Old English anne "alone, solitary" or ansetl "hermitage" and leah "woodland, clearing".

AlanmEnglish, Scottish, Breton, French
The meaning of this name is not known for certain. It was used in Brittany at least as early as the 6th century, and it possibly means either "little rock" or "handsome" in Breton. Alternatively, it may derive from the tribal name of the Alans, an Iranian people who migrated into Europe in the 4th and 5th centuries [more]

Scottish form of Alexander.

Anglicized form of Alasdair.

Anglicized form of Alasdair.

Anglicized form of Alasdair.

AllanmEnglish, Scottish, Danish, Swedish, Estonian
Variant of Alan. The American author Edgar Allan Poe () got his middle name from the surname of the parents who adopted him.

AllenmEnglish, Scottish
Variant of Alan. A famous bearer of this name was Allen Ginsberg (), an American beat poet. Another is the American film director and actor Woody Allen (), who took the stage name Allen from his real first name.

Ally 2mScottish
Diminutive of Alistair.

Anglicized form of the Gaelic name Ailpein, possibly derived from a Pictish word meaning "white". This was the name of two kings of Dál Riata and two kings of the Picts in the 8th and 9th centuries.

Scottish form of Olaf.

AngusmScottish, Irish, English
Anglicized form of Aonghus.

Scottish diminutive of Anna.

AodhmIrish, Scottish, Irish Mythology
From the old Irish name Áed, which meant "fire". This was a very popular name in early Ireland, being borne by numerous figures in Irish mythology and several high kings. It has been traditionally Anglicized as Hugh.

AodhagánmIrish, Scottish
Diminutive of Aodh.

AodhánmIrish, Scottish, Irish Mythology
From the old Irish name Áedán meaning "little fire", a diminutive of Áed (see Aodh). This was the name of an Irish monk and saint of the 7th century. It was also borne by several characters in Irish mythology.

Scottish variant of Aonghus.

AonghusmIrish, Scottish, Irish Mythology
Possibly meaning "one strength" derived from Irish óen "one" and gus "force, strength, energy". Aonghus (sometimes surnamed Mac Og meaning "young son") was the Irish god of love and youth. The name was also borne by an 8th-century Pictish king and several Irish kings.

ArchibaldmScottish, English
Derived from the Germanic elements ercan "genuine" and bald "bold". The first element was altered due to the influence of Greek names beginning with the element ἀρχός (archos) meaning "master". The Normans brought this name to England. It first became common in Scotland in the Middle Ages.

ArchiemScottish, English
Diminutive of Archibald. This name is borne by Archie Andrews, an American comic-book character created in

From the name of an island off the west coast of Scotland in the Firth of Clyde.

Scottish form of Arthur.

Atholm & fScottish
From the name of a district in Scotland that was derived from Gaelic ath Fodhla"new Ireland".

Anglicized form of Amhlaidh.

Scottish form of Barbara.

BarclaymScottish, English (Rare)
From a Scottish surname that was likely derived from the English place name Berkeley, meaning "birch wood" in Old English.

Feminine form of Beathan.

Derived from Scottish Gaelic beatha meaning "life".

Diminutive of Iseabail.

Scottish form of Beatrice.

Scottish form of Walter.

Scottish form of Walter.

Blairm & fScottish, English
From a Scottish surname that is derived from Gaelic blár meaning "plain, field, battlefield".

BoydmScottish, English
From a Scottish surname that was possibly derived from the name of the island of Bute.

BrucemScottish, English
From a Scottish surname, of Norman origin, which probably originally referred to the town of Brix in France. The surname was borne by Robert the Bruce, a Scottish hero of the 14th century who achieved independence from England and became the king of Scotland. It has been in use as a given name in the English-speaking world since the 19th century. A notable bearer is the American musician Bruce Springsteen ().

Means "whelp, young dog" in Gaelic. This name is also used as a Scottish form of Columba.

Scottish form of Christina.

Scottish form of Katherine.

Variant of Calum.

Scottish form of Columba.

CaoimhefIrish, Scottish
Derived from Gaelic caomh meaning "beautiful, gentle, kind".

CatrinafIrish, Scottish
Variant of Catriona.

CatrionafIrish, Scottish
Gaelic form of Katherine.

Christie 2mScottish, Irish
Scottish and Irish diminutive of Christopher.

Christy 2mScottish, Irish
Scottish and Irish diminutive of Christopher.

CináedmScottish, Irish
Means "born of fire" in Gaelic. This was the name of the first king of the Scots and Picts (9th century). It is often Anglicized as Kenneth.

Derived from Gaelic caoin"handsome". It is often Anglicized as Kenneth.

Colin 1mScottish, Irish, English
Anglicized form of Cailean or Coilean.

ConallmIrish, Scottish, Irish Mythology
Means "strong wolf" in Irish. This is the name of several characters in Irish legend including the hero Conall Cernach ("Conall of the victories"), a member of the Red Branch of Ulster, who avenged Cúchulainn's death by killing Lugaid.

Scottish form of Cormac.

CraigmScottish, English
From a Scottish surname that was derived from Gaelic creag meaning "crag" or "rocks", originally indicating a person who lived near a crag.

Scottish Gaelic form of David.

DaividhmScottish (Rare)
Gaelic variant of David.

Scottish diminutive of Andrew.

DavidmEnglish, Hebrew, French, Scottish, Welsh, Spanish, Portuguese, Catalan, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Dutch, Czech, Slovene, Russian, Croatian, Serbian, Macedonian, Romanian, Biblical, Biblical Latin
From the Hebrew name דָּוִד (Dawid), which was derived from Hebrew דּוֹד (dod) meaning "beloved" or "uncle". David was the second and greatest of the kings of Israel, ruling in the 10th century BC. Several stories about him are told in the Old Testament, including his defeat of Goliath, a giant Philistine. According to the New Testament, Jesus was descended from him [more]

DaviemEnglish, Scottish
Diminutive of David.

Means "pilgrim" in Scottish Gaelic.

Scottish form of George.

Anglicized form of Diarmad.

Scottish form of Diarmaid.

DomhnallmScottish, Irish
Gaelic form of Donald.

DomnallmScottish, Irish
Gaelic form of Donald.

DonaldmScottish, English
From the Gaelic name Domhnall meaning "ruler of the world", composed of the old Celtic elements dumno "world" and val "rule". This was the name of two 9th-century kings of the Scots and Picts. It has traditionally been very popular in Scotland, and during the 20th century it became common in the rest of the English-speaking world. This is the name of one of Walt Disney's most popular cartoon characters, Donald Duck. It was also borne by Australian cricket player Donald Bradman ().

Feminine form of Donald.

Feminine form of Donald.

Feminine form of Donald.

DonnchadhmIrish, Scottish
Irish and Scottish Gaelic form of Duncan.

DougalmScottish, Irish
Anglicized form of the Gaelic name Dubhghall, which meant "dark stranger" from dubh "dark" and gall "stranger".

DouglasmScottish, English
Anglicized form of the Scottish surname Dubhghlas, meaning "dark river" from Gaelic dubh "dark" and glais "water, river" (an archaic word related to glas "grey, green"). Douglas was originally a place name (for example, a tributary of the River Clyde), which then became a Scottish clan name borne by a powerful line of earls. It has been used as a given name since the 16th century.

Variant of Douglas.

DubhghallmIrish, Scottish
Original Gaelic form of Dougal.

Original Gaelic form of Douglas.

Derived from Gaelic dubh meaning "dark".

Scottish variant of Dougal.

DuncanmScottish, English
Anglicized form of the Gaelic name Donnchadh, derived from Gaelic donn "brown" and cath "battle". This was the name of two kings of Scotland, including the one who was featured in Shakespeare's play Macbeth ().

EachannmScottish, Irish
Means "brown horse" from Gaelic each "horse" and donn "brown". It was sometimes Anglicized as Hector.

Scottish Gaelic form of Hilary.

Scottish Gaelic form of Elizabeth.

Scottish Gaelic form of Henry.

EdanmIrish, Scottish
Variant of Aidan.

Edna 1fIrish, Scottish, English
Anglicized form of Eithne.

Effie 2fScottish
Anglicized form of Oighrig.

Scottish form of Edward.

Diminutive of Eilionoir, also taken to be a Gaelic form of Helen.

Scottish form of Eleanor.

Scottish form of Emer.

EithnefIrish, Scottish
Means "kernel, grain" in Irish. This was the name of a 5th-century Irish saint, sister of Saint Fidelma and follower of Saint Patrick.

Anglicized form of Ealair.

Scottish form of Elizabeth.

Scottish form of Elizabeth.

EoghanmIrish, Scottish, Irish Mythology
Possibly means "born from the yew tree" in Irish, though it is possibly derived from Eugene. It was borne by several legendary or semi-legendary Irish figures, including a son of Niall of the Nine Hostages.

EoinmIrish, Scottish
Gaelic form of John.

ErskinemScottish, Irish, English (Rare)
From a surname that was originally derived from the name of a Scottish town meaning "projecting height" in Gaelic. A famous bearer of the name was the Irish novelist and nationalist Erskine Childers ().

Anglicized form of Eoghan.

Evander 2mScottish, English
Anglicized form of Iomhar.

Anglicized form of Eoghan.

Variant of Ewan.

FarquharmIrish, Scottish
Anglicized form of Fearchar.

FearcharmIrish, Scottish
Means "dear man" from Gaelic fear "man" and char "dear".

FearghasmIrish, Scottish, Irish Mythology
Means "man of vigour", derived from the Irish elements fear "man" and gus "vigour". This was the name of several characters in Irish legend including the Ulster hero Fearghas mac Róich.

Anglicized form of Fionnuala.

Fergiem & fScottish
Diminutive and feminine form of Fergus.

FergusmIrish, Scottish, Irish Mythology
Anglicized form of Fearghas.

From a Scottish place name that was formerly the name of a kingdom in Scotland. It is said to be named for the legendary Pictish hero Fib.

Scottish form of Philip.

From a Scottish surname that was derived from the given name Fionnlagh.

Anglicized form of Fionnuala.

From Scottish Gaelic Fionnghall meaning "white stranger", derived from fionn "white, fair" and gall "stranger". This was the name of the hero in James Macpherson's epic poem Fingal, which he claimed to have based on early Gaelic legends about Fionn mac Cumhail.

Variant of Fingal.

FinlaymIrish, Scottish, English
Anglicized form of Fionnlagh.

Finleym & fIrish, Scottish, English
Anglicized form of Fionnlagh.

FinolafIrish, Scottish
Anglicized form of Fionnuala.

FionafScottish, English
Feminine form of Fionn. This name was (first?) used by the Scottish poet James Macpherson in his poem Fingal (), in which it is spelled as Fióna.

Scottish Gaelic form of Fingal.

FionnghualafIrish, Scottish, Irish Mythology
Variant of Fionnuala.

FionnlaghmIrish, Scottish
Means "white warrior" from Gaelic fionn "white, fair" and laogh "warrior".

FionntanmIrish, Scottish
Modern Irish form of Fintan.

FionolafIrish, Scottish
Anglicized form of Fionnuala.

From a surname that was originally taken from a Scottish place name meaning "field" in Gaelic.

FrangmScottish (Rare)
Scottish form of Francis.

FrangagfScottish (Rare)
Scottish feminine form of Francis.

FrasermScottish, English (Rare)
From a Scottish surname that is of unknown meaning. A famous bearer of the surname was Simon Fraser (), a Canadian explorer.

FraziermScottish, English
Variant of Fraser.

Variant of Fife.

GavinmEnglish, Scottish
Medieval form of Gawain. Though it died out in England, it was reintroduced from Scotland in the 20th century.

Derived from the Gaelic phrase giolla Chríost meaning "servant of Christ".

Anglicized form of Scottish Gille Easbaig or Irish Giolla Easpuig both meaning "servant of the bishop".

GilroymIrish, Scottish
From an Irish surname, either Mac Giolla Ruaidh, which means "son of the red-haired servant", or Mac Giolla Rí, which means "son of the king's servant".

GlenmScottish, English
Variant of Glenn.

GlennmScottish, English
From a Scottish surname that was derived from Gaelic gleann"valley". A famous bearer of the surname was American astronaut John Glenn ().

GlennafScottish, English
Feminine form of Glenn.

Scottish form of Godfrey.

GordonmScottish, English
From a Scottish surname that was originally derived from a place name in Berwickshire meaning "spacious fort". It was originally used in honour of Charles George Gordon (), a British general who died defending the city of Khartoum in Sudan.

GormlaithfIrish, Scottish
Derived from Irish gorm "blue" or "illustrious" and flaith "princess, lady". This was the name of a wife of the 11th-century Irish ruler Brian Boru.

GraememScottish, English (Modern)
From a surname that was a variant of Graham.

GrahammScottish, English
From a Scottish surname, originally derived from the English place name Grantham, which probably meant "gravelly homestead" in Old English. The surname was first taken to Scotland in the 12th century by the Norman baron William de Graham. A famous bearer was Alexander Graham Bell (), the Scottish-Canadian-American inventor who devised the telephone.

GrahamemScottish, English (Rare)
From a surname that was a variant of Graham.

GrantmEnglish, Scottish
From an English and Scottish surname that was derived from Norman French grand meaning "great, large". A famous bearer of the surname was Ulysses Grant (), the commander of the Union forces during the American Civil War who later served as president. In America the name has often been given in his honour.

Greerf & mScottish, English (Rare)
From a Scottish surname that was derived from the given name Gregor.

GregormGerman, Scottish, Slovak, Slovene
German, Scottish, Slovak and Slovene form of Gregorius (see Gregory). A famous bearer was Gregor Mendel (), a Czech monk and scientist who did experiments in genetics.

Scottish diminutive of Gregory.

GriermScottish, English (Rare)
From a surname that was a variant of Greer.

Scottish form of Gregory.

Scottish variant of Griselda.

Anglicized form of a Sheumais, the vocative case of Seumas.

Scottish short form of Hector.

Scottish diminutive of Hector.

Scots variant of Henry.

Possibly a variant of Aodhagán, a diminutive of Aodh.

Scottish form of John.

IanmScottish, English
Scottish form of John.

Innesm & fScottish
Anglicized form of Aonghus, also used as a feminine name.

Scottish form of Ivor.

Iona 1fEnglish, Scottish
From the name of the island off Scotland where Saint Columba founded a monastery. The name of the island is Old Norse in origin, and apparently derives simply from ey meaning "island".

IrvinemEnglish, Scottish
Variant of Irving.

IrvingmEnglish, Scottish, Jewish
From a Scottish surname that was in turn derived from a Scottish place name meaning "green water". Historically this name has been relatively common among Jews, who have used it as an American-sounding form of Hebrew names beginning with I such as Isaac, Israel and Isaiah. A famous bearer was the Russian-American songwriter and lyricist Irving Berlin (), whose birth name was Israel Beilin.

Scottish form of Isabel.

Anglicized form of Iseabail.

IslafScottish, English
Variant of Islay, typically used as a feminine name. It also coincides with the Spanish word isla meaning "island".

Islaym & fScottish
From the name of the island of Islay, which lies off of the west coast of Scotland.

Scottish form of Isabel.

IvormIrish, Scottish, Welsh, English (British)
From the Old Norse name Ívarr, which was derived from the elements yr "yew, bow" and arr "warrior". During the Middle Ages it was brought to Britain by Scandinavian settlers and invaders, and it was adopted in Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Feminine form of James.

Jamiem & fScottish, English
Originally a Lowland Scots diminutive of James. Since the late 19th century it has also been used as a feminine form.

Jean 2fEnglish, Scottish
Medieval English variant of Jehanne (see Jane). It was common in England and Scotland during the Middle Ages, but eventually became rare in England. It was reintroduced to the English-speaking world from Scotland in the 19th century.

Jessie 1fScottish, English
Originally a Scottish diminutive of Jean 2. In modern times it is also used as a diminutive of Jessica.

Scottish form of Jack.

Scottish diminutive of Jack.

Scottish diminutive of Jack.

KeavyfIrish, Scottish
Anglicized form of Caoimhe.

KeirmScottish, English (Rare)
From a surname that was a variant of Kerr.

KeithmEnglish, Scottish
From a Scottish surname that was originally derived from a place name, itself probably derived from the Brythonic element cet meaning "wood". This was the surname of a long line of Scottish nobles. It has been used as a given name since the 19th century.

Feminine form of Keith.

Feminine form of Kenneth.

Feminine form of Kenneth.

KennethmScottish, English, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian
Anglicized form of both Coinneach and Cináed. This name was borne by the Scottish king Kenneth (Cináed) mac Alpin, who united the Scots and Picts in the 9th century. It was popularized outside of Scotland by Sir Walter Scott, who used it for the hero in his novel The Talisman. A famous bearer was the British novelist Kenneth Grahame (), who wrote The Wind in the Willows.

KennymScottish, English
Diminutive of Kenneth.

Possibly means "chief lord" in Gaelic. This was the name of a 6th-century saint from Glasgow.

KerrmScottish, English (Rare)
From a Scottish surname that was derived from a place name meaning "rough wet ground" in Old Norse.

Variant of Kirstin.

Diminutive of Kirstin.

Scottish form of Christina.

Diminutive of Kirstin.

Scottish form of Laurence 1.

Diminutive of Lachlan.

Feminine form of Lachlan.

LachlanmScottish, English
Originally a Scottish nickname for a person who was from Norway. In Scotland, Norway was known as the "land of the lochs", or Lochlann. In the English-speaking world, this name was especially popular in Australia towards the end of the 20th century.

Variant of Lachlan.

Lennoxm & fScottish, English (Modern)
From a Scottish surname that was derived from the name of a district in Scotland. The district, called Leamhnachd in Gaelic, possibly means "place of elms".

LenoxmScottish, English (Rare)
From a surname that was a variant of Lennox.

Scottish form of Lillian.

Scottish form of Lillian.

Scottish form of Lillian.

Lindsayf & mEnglish, Scottish
From an English and Scottish surname that was originally derived from the name of the region Lindsey, which means "Lincoln island" in Old English. As a given name it was typically masculine until the s (in Britain) and s (in America) when it became popular for girls, probably due to its similarity to Linda and because of American actress Lindsay Wagner ().

Lindseyf & mEnglish, Scottish
Variant of Lindsay.

Scottish form of Lucia.

Diminutive of Lachlan.

Loganm & fScottish, English
From a surname that was originally derived from a Scottish place name meaning "little hollow" in Scottish Gaelic.

Máel ColuimmScottish
Gaelic form of Malcolm.

Scottish form of Margaret.

Scottish form of Margaret.

Scottish form of Mary.

MaisiefScottish, English (British)
Scottish diminutive of Mairead.

MalcolmmScottish, English
From Scottish Gaelic Máel Coluim, which means "disciple of Saint Columba". This was the name of four kings of Scotland starting in the 10th century, including Malcolm III, who became king after killing Macbeth, the usurper who had murdered his father. The character Malcolm in Shakespeare's tragedy Macbeth () is based on him. Another famous bearer was Malcolm X (), an American civil rights leader.

Malina 1fScottish
Feminine form of Malcolm.

MalvinafScottish, English, Literature
Created by the poet James MacPherson in the 18th century for a character in his Ossian poems. He probably intended it to mean "smooth brow" in Gaelic.

Means "servant of Jesus" in Scottish Gaelic.

MarcasmIrish, Scottish
Irish and Scottish form of Marcus (see Mark).

Scottish form of both Marjorie and Marcella.

Maura 2fIrish, Scottish, English
Anglicized form of Máire. It has also been associated with Gaelic mór meaning "great". This was the name of an obscure 5th-century Irish or Scottish martyr.

Vocative form of Màiri.

Scottish form of Michael.

Scottish Gaelic form of Michael.

MoirafIrish, Scottish, English
Anglicized form of Máire. It also coincides with Greek Μοῖρα (Moira) meaning "fate, destiny", the singular of Μοῖραι, the Greek name for the Fates. They were the three female personifications of destiny in Greek mythology.

Monroem & fScottish, English
From a Scottish surname meaning "from the mouth of the Roe". The Roe is a river in Ireland. Two famous bearers of the surname were American president James Monroe () and American actress Marilyn Monroe ().

Means "great" in Scottish Gaelic. It is sometimes translated into English as Sarah.

Diminutive of Mòr.

Variant of Murray.

MornafIrish, Scottish
Anglicized form of Muirne.

From a Scottish place name meaning "big gap". This was the name of Fingal's kingdom in James Macpherson's poems.

MoynafIrish, Scottish
Variant of Mona 1.

MoyrafIrish, Scottish
Variant of Moira.

From a surname that was originally taken from a Scottish place name meaning "moor, fen". It also means "sea" in Scottish Gaelic.

MuireadhachmIrish, Scottish
Modern form of Muiredach.

Scottish form of Muirgel.

Possibly derived from Welsh mwyn"gentle, kind". This was a nickname of the 6th-century Saint Kentigern.

Variant of Monroe.

Variant of Monroe.

MurchadhmIrish, Scottish
Derived from Gaelic muir "sea" and cadh "warrior".

Feminine form of Murdo.

Anglicized form of Muireadhach or Murchadh.

MurraymScottish, English
From a surname, which is either Scottish or Irish in origin (see Murray 1 and Murray 2).

Scottish form of Muirenn.

Variant of Maisie.

Scottish diminutive of Anna.

NaoisemIrish, Scottish, Irish Mythology
Meaning unknown, presumably of Gaelic origin. In Irish legend he was the young man who eloped with Deirdre, the beloved of


Scottish Gaelic Submitted Names

Submitted names are contributed by users of this website. The accuracy of these name definitions cannot be guaranteed.

ÀdhamhmScottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic form of Adam.

AilbeartmScottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic form of Albert.

AileanmScottish Gaelic (Rare)
Scottish Gaelic form of Alan.

AiligmScottish Gaelic
Gaelic form of Alec.

AilisfScottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic form of Alice.

AithbhreacfScottish Gaelic, Medieval Scottish
Older form of Oighrig. Aithbhreac was the given name of the author of the earliest extant poetry in Scottish Gaelic by a poetess. Aithbhreac Inghean Coirceadal () wrote a famous poem to eulogise her late husband.

AmhlaibhmScottish Gaelic

AmhlaighmScottish Gaelic

AmlaíbmScottish Gaelic, Ancient Irish
Variant of Amhlaidh.

AngaidhmScottish Gaelic
Diminutive of Aonghas.

AodhànmScottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic form of Aodhán.

ArtaganmScottish Gaelic
A diminutive of the Gaelic name Artair, which is thought to mean "bear" or "stone". Also refers to the ancient Celtic word "art" which has three meanings: "a stone", "God" and "noble".

ArtánmScottish Gaelic
From Art and a diminutive suffix

AscallmScottish Gaelic

Báinef & mIrish, Scottish Gaelic, Irish Mythology
An Irish name meaning "whiteness, pallor". In Irish Mythology, Báine was a princess, daughter of Tuathal Techtmar, ancestor of the kings of Ireland. "Cailín na Gruaige Báine" and "Bruach na Carraige Báine" are the names of two traditional Irish songs [more]

BaraballfScottish Gaelic
Variant of Barabal. This name used to be Anglicized as the etymologically unrelated Annabella.

BearnardmScottish Gaelic, Manx
Scottish Gaelic and Manx form of Bernard.

BearnasfScottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic form of Berenice, this name is also considered a feminine form of Bearnard.

BeasagfScottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic form of Bessie.

BeasaidhfScottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic form of Bessie.

BeisteanmScottish Gaelic
Diminutive of Gilleasbaig.

BeitirisfScottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic form of Beatrice.

BenneitmScottish Gaelic (Rare)
Gaelic form of Benedict.

BhioctoriafScottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic form of Victoria.

BrianannmScottish Gaelic, Scots
Scottish Gaelic form of Brendan.

BrìdefScottish Gaelic
Variant of Brìghde.

BrìghdefScottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic form of Bridget.

BróccinmScottish Gaelic (Archaic), Medieval Scottish

BrùsmScottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic form of Bruce.

CairistìnefScottish Gaelic
Variant of Cairistiòna.

CaitirfScottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic name derived from a mis-analysis of Caitrìona as Caitir Fhiona. This name used to be Anglicized as the etymologically unrelated Clarissa.

CaointeanmScottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic form of Quintinus.

CaomhainnmScottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic form of Kevin. The name coincides with the Scottish Gaelic verb caomhainn "to reserve; to husband".

CatrìonafScottish Gaelic
Variant of Caitrìona.

CeanafScottish Gaelic
Means "fair one" in Scottish Gaelic.

CèilidhfScottish Gaelic (Modern, Rare)
Directly taken from Scottish Gaelic cèilidh, a traditional folk music and storytelling party [more]

CeitfScottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic form of Kate.

CeitidhfScottish Gaelic (Rare)
Scottish Gaelic form of Katie.

CelcissmScottish Gaelic (Gallicized, Rare)

CiorsdanfScottish Gaelic
Gaelic form of Kirstin.

CiorstaidhfScottish Gaelic
Gaelic form of Kirsty.

CliamainmScottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic form of Clement.

CobhanmScottish Gaelic

CòiseammScottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic form of Constantinus (see Constantine).

ComhnallmScottish Gaelic
Variant of Conall.

CotrìonafScottish Gaelic
Variant of Caitrìona found on the Isle of Lewis.

CriosaidhfScottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic form of Chrissie.

CrìsdeanmScottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic form of Christopher.

CuithbeartmScottish Gaelic (Rare)
Scottish Gaelic form of Cuthbert.

CumhallmScottish Gaelic
Means "champion, stranger"

DaggafScottish Gaelic, Scottish, Scots
Pet name for Nandag

DervorguillafScottish Gaelic (Latinized, Archaic), Medieval Scottish (Latinized)
Latinized form of Derbforgaill.

DìorbhailfScottish Gaelic
Scottish cognate of Dearbháil. This name used to be Anglicized as the etymologically unrelated Dorothy.

DùghallmScottish Gaelic
Variant of Dubhghall.

DùghlasmScottish Gaelic
Variant of Dubhghlas.

EachunnmScottish Gaelic
Variant of Eachann.

EagarmScottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic form of Edgar.

EairrdsidhmScottish Gaelic
Scottish adoption of Archie.

EalusaidfMedieval Scottish, Scottish Gaelic (Archaic)
Medieval variant of Ealasaid.

EamhairfScottish Gaelic
Scottish cognate of Emer.

EamonnmIrish, Scottish Gaelic
Variant of Éamonn.

ÈirefScottish Gaelic

EithrigfScottish Gaelic
Variant of Oighrig via the older form Aithbhreac. This name used to be Anglicized as the etymologically unrelated names Effie, Euphemia, Erica and Africa.

EòghannmScottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic form of Eógan.

EòinmScottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic form of Eoin.

EubhafScottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic form of Eva.

EumannmScottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic cognate of Éamonn.

EunafIrish (Anglicized, Rare), Scottish Gaelic (Anglicized, Rare), English (Rare)
Anglicized form of Úna and Ùna.

FinvolafMedieval Scottish, Scottish Gaelic (Latinized)
Latinization of Fionnghuala.

FionnghalfScottish Gaelic
Cognate of Fionnghuala; this name used to be Anglicized as the etymologically unrelated Flora [more]

FloireansfScottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic form of Florence.

FlòraidhfScottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic form of Florrie and Flora.

FreadaraigmScottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic form of Frederick.

GaraidhmScottish Gaelic, Irish
Of uncertain origin and meaning. It is commonly Anglicized as Gary and Garry.

GarvinmIrish (Anglicized), Scottish (Anglicized), Scottish Gaelic (Anglicized)
Transferred use of the surname Garvin.

GearaldmScottish Gaelic
Variation of Gerald.

GilleasbaigmScottish Gaelic
Younger form of Gilleasbuig.

GilleasbuigmScottish Gaelic
Derived from Scottish Gaelic gille "servant, lad" and easbaig "bishop". This name used to be Anglicised as Gillespie and the etymologically unrelated Archibald.

GillebeartmScottish Gaelic
Younger form of Gille-Brìdhde "servant of Saint Bridget". This name used to be Anglicized as Gilbert.

Gille-BrìdhdemScottish Gaelic
Original form of Gillebeart.

Gille ChrìostmScottish Gaelic
Original Scottish Gaelic form of Gilchrist. This name used to be Anglicized as Christopher.

GormshuilfScottish Gaelic
Means "blue eye" in Scottish Gaelic, from gorm "blue" and sùil "eye".

GormuilfScottish Gaelic
Form of Gormshuil.

GreumachmScottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic form of Graham.

HarailtmScottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic form of Harold.

HùisdeanmScottish Gaelic
Variant of Ùisdean. This name used to be Anglicized as the etymologically unrelated Hugh.

IomhairmScottish Gaelic
Variant of Iomhar.

IseabalfIrish (Rare), Scottish Gaelic (Rare)
Irish variant of Isibéal and Scottish variant of Iseabail.

LabhrannmScottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic form of Lawrence

LabhruinnmScottish Gaelic (Rare, Archaic)
Variant of Labhrainn.

LachlannmScottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic form of Lachlan.

LommmScottish Gaelic, Irish
Variant of Lommán.

LuthaismScottish Gaelic
Gaelic form of Louis.

MabiefScottish Gaelic, Scottish, English

MairearadfScottish Gaelic
Variant of Maighread.

MalamhìnfScottish Gaelic
Most likely coined by James Macpherson (), the Scottish antiquarian poet who published works allegedly translated from the ancient Gaelic bard Ossian. Macpherson seems to have based the name on Scottish Gaelic mala "brow, eyebrow" and mìn "smooth, soft", intending it to mean "smooth brow" [more]

MalmhìnfScottish Gaelic
Variant of Malamhìn. This name is the original Gaelic form of the Anglicized Malvina.

MalmuirafScottish Gaelic

MaonghalmIrish, Scottish Gaelic
Comprised of the elements maoin "wealth" and gal "valor"

MarsailfScottish Gaelic (Rare, Archaic)
Obscure variant of Marsaili.

MarsailidhfScottish Gaelic
Variant of Marsaili.

MàrtainnmScottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic form of Martin.

MoibealfScottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic form of Mabel.

MoirefScottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic form of Mary used exclusively to refer to the Biblical Virgin Mary.

MoireanmScottish Gaelic (Rare)
Masculine derivative of Moire, the Scottish Gaelic name for the Virgin Mary.

MuireachmScottish Gaelic
Means “sea warrior” in Scottish Gaelic.

NeacalmScottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic form of Nicholas.

NeachdainnmScottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic form of Nechtan.

OilbhreismScottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic form of Oliver.

PàdairmScottish Gaelic
Dialectal form of Pàdraig used on the Isle of Arran.

PàlmScottish Gaelic
Scottish form of Paul.

PàrlanmScottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic form of Parthalán. The name used to be Anglicized as Bartholomew, even though it is not clear whether the two names are etymologically related.

PrainnseasmScottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic form of Francis.

RaonaidfScottish Gaelic
Variant of Raghnaid. This name used to be Anglicized as the etymologically unrelated Rachel.

RuiseartmScottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic form of Richard.

SeasaidhfScottish Gaelic
Gaelic form of Jessie. The name coincides with the future tense of the Scottish Gaelic verb seas "to stand".

SeathanmScottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic form of John via Old French Jehan.

SeocanmScottish Gaelic
Diminutive of Seoc.

SeonaidhmScottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic form of Johnny.

SeumasinafScottish Gaelic (Archaic)
Feminine form of Seumas, anglicized as Jamesina.

SgàiremScottish Gaelic

Shanachief & mScottish Gaelic, Irish
Irish word for "a skilled teller of tales or legends, especially Gaelic ones." From the Scots Gaelic word seanachaidh, from Old Irish senchaid, variant of senchae, meaning historian, derived from sen, meaning old.

SìlefScottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic cognate of Síle.

SìlisfScottish Gaelic
Variant of Sìleas.

SimeagfScottish Gaelic

SìomonmScottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic form of Simon.

SitheagfScottish Gaelic (Archaic)
Derived from Middle Gaelic sidhach "wolf", this name is now extinct but was "common in the 17th century".

SiubhanfScottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic cognate of Siobhán. This name used to be Anglicized as the etymologically unrelated Judith.

SiùsanfScottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic form of Susan and Susannah.

StineagfScottish Gaelic
Diminutive of Cairistiòna.

TearlachmScottish Gaelic
Variant of Teàrlach.

ThreinfearmScottish Gaelic

TiobaidmScottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic form of Theobald.

TorcallmScottish Gaelic
Gaelicized form of the Old Norse name Þorkell. This name was usually Anglicized as Torquil.

TormodmScottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic name derived from both Þórmóðr and Þormundr. This name used to be Anglicized as the etymologically unrelated Norman.

UaileanmScottish Gaelic
Variant of Ualan.

UarraigmScottish Gaelic
Anglicised as the etymologically unrelated given name Kennedy, The name is said to have been borne by various families of the surname Kennedy.

UilleachanmScottish Gaelic
Diminutive of Uilleam.

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18 Beautiful Scottish Names and What They Mean

Fairy Pools | Isle Of Skye, Scotland

Fairy Pools | Isle Of Skye, Scotland

Much like the eclectic array of dialects, Scottish names are as magical as the dreamscapes they stem from. Some classic, others wildly unique, swoon over the most striking names from Scotland and the meaning behind them.

Female | Pronounced the same way as Elsa, Ailsa is a tried and true Scots name with Viking origins. It refers to the volcanic island and gannet colony, Ailsa Craig, that emerges out of the Firth of Clyde and means ‘supernatural victory’.

Male | While whisky or ‘the water of life’ in Scots Gaelic is uisge-beatha, the name Beathan simply means life. Pronounced BAEy-un, it is definitely one of the more unusual names.

Female | Skye is a stand-out name taken from the Isle of Skye, Scotland’s most magical island and a place of uninterrupted paradise. Suited to adventurers and strong characters, if the person in question is anything like the island, they’re one in a million.

Elgol Village | Isle of Skye, Scotland

Male | Although anglicised as Kenneth, Coinneach translates as ‘handsome’, stemming from the Gaelic word caoin. Pronounced CON-ak, it is also an Irish boys name.

Female | The name Morven is evident across many cultures and yet it is quintessentially Scottish. Morven is linked to James Macpherson’s Ossianic poems and is also a Scottish place name rooted in the Gaelic A’Mhorbhairne, meaning the sea gap or big gap.

Male | An ode to Scotland’s potion of mystical lochs and lochans, Lachlan is a boys name meaning ‘land of the lochs’. Pronounced LACK-lan, it also has roots as a Scots nickname for one who hails from Norway. The female version is Lachina.

Glen Coe | Scotland

Female | A stunning name for a soul as precious as the stone she’s named after, Marcail is the Scots version of Margaret and means ‘pearl’. Pronounced MAR-kale.

Male | The name Paden originated in Scotland and translates as ‘royal’. A cool boys name, this one is the perfect pick for parents wanting an original name with Scottish ties. Paden could also be gender neutral.

Female | The backwards spelling of Agnes, Senga is a traditional Scottish name that means pure and chaste. Making it all the more unique, it has faded in popularity over the years.

Glen Coe Snow | © Paul Morris/Unsplash

Female | Meaning light, bright and radiant, the name Sorcha can be found across both Scotland and Ireland. It stems from the Gaelic word for ‘brightness’ and also has ties with the name Clara. Pronunciation SOR-ka.

Male | Baird is a fairly common surname across Scotland and yet it makes for a cool forename. Rooted in the meaning of bard, this trendy boys name is suited to literature lovers. Pronounced BEAR-d.

Female | A quintessential Scottish name that will never go out of fashion, Bonnie is the Scots word for beautiful, pretty, stunning and attractive. Bonnies tend to have an inimitable personality.

Trossachs Reflections | Scotland

Male | Pronounced OOSH-jun, this Scottish Gaelic name is rooted in the Old Norse name Eysteinn, which roughly translates to eternal island stone.

Female | Pronounced EYE-la, Isla comes from the Isle of Islay, an enchanting island that basks off Scotland’s west coast and the name of two Scottish rivers.

Like the Moray Firth, this Scots surname name is also a masculine given name which means sea. A Scots version of Murray, this one captures the adventurous nature of Scotland.

Scottish Sea | Scottish Sea

Female | An enchanting name, Liùsaidh is the Scots Gaelic alternative for Lucia, the lyrical Italian name which means elegant, graceful, shining light. Pronounced LOO-sai.

Male | You can’t get more Scottish than Hamish — well, except for the name Jock (Scots for John)! A tried and true option still going strong today, this charming pick is the Scots version of James. Hamish means supplanter and Highlander.

Female | A traditional name, the Gaelic meaning of Mòrag is great and sun. However, it is also a Scottish version of Sarah, which means princess.

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Where Do African American Names Come From?

Scotland Personal Names

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Understanding customs used in surnames and given names can help you identify your ancestors in records. Learn to recognize name variations and see clues in names.

Online Tools[edit | edit source]

Surnames[edit | edit source]

The nobility and wealthy land owners first began using surnames. Merchants and townspeople adopted the custom, as eventually did the rural population. This process took several centuries, and occurred more quickly in certain regions.

Patronymic Surnames[edit | edit source]

A patronymic surname is a surname originated from the given name of the father

Patronymic names changed with each generation. Based on a person’s father’s name they often contain Mac- or -son:

  • Dickson/Ritchie (Richard), Thomson, Williamson/Wilson, Duncan, Rollo, Watt/Watson (Walter's son)
  • MacConnochie (MacDhonnchaidh, son of Duncan), MacWilliam (MacUilleim), Quayle/MacPhail (MacPhòill, son of Paul)
  • Unlike Ireland, names based on Ò (grandson) are rare. However there are one or two exceptions such as Ogilvy (Ò Ghillebhuidhe grandson of the blonde man, MacGhillebhuidhe in modern Gaelic). O' in Scotland tends to mean "of" and comes from Lowland Scots.

In the Orkney Islands, Shetland Islands, and many parts of northern Scotland, many people used patronymic names. The use of patronymics in Scotland was in part a result of early Scandinavian settlement into Scotland, which influenced naming patterns for centuries. While the common use of patronymics eventually died out, their influence is still apparent.

Surnames Historical Development[edit | edit source]

  • Before record keeping began, most people had only one name, such as John.
  • As the population increased, it became necessary to distinguish between individuals with the same name. The problem was usually solved by adding descriptive information. John became John the smith, John the son of Matthew, John the short, or John from Strathmiglo.
  • At first surnames applied only to one person, not to the whole family. After a few generations, these names became hereditary and were passed on from generation to generation.
  • Surnames developed from several sources. For example:
    • Occupational
      • Soutar (a shoemaker), Carter (also derived from MacArthur), Stewart (a steward), Dorward (door keeper) or Smith.
      • MacGowan/Gow (Mac a' Ghobhainn, son of the Smith), Neillie (Mac an Fhilidh, son of the poet), MacIntyre (Mac-an-t-Saoir, son of the carpenter)
    • Geographical, based on a person's residence
      • Aberdein (i.e. Aberdeen), Buchan, Dalziel, Dunbar, Peebles, Sutherland, Tweedie (River Tweed) or Glasgow.
      • Murray (Moireach, someone from Moray), Boyd (Boideach, someone from the Isle of Bute),
      • Craig (Creag, meaning a rock) Forrest, Milne (a mill), Muir (moorland or summer grazing area, Ross (someone living on a headland), Wood
    • Patronymic (based on a person’s father’s name, see above)
    • Descriptive or nickname often referring to hair colour, complexion, or personality traits -
      • Braidfute (Broad footed), Fairbairn (Beautiful child), Reid (red), Black
      • Dow (Dubh, dark haired), Keir (ciar, swarthy, or ceàrr, left handed), Breck (Breac, freckled), Douglas (Dùghlas from Dubh-ghlas, dark-grey haired), Gilroy/Kilroy (MacGhilleruaidh, son of the red headed person), Bowie (Buidhe - blonde person), Glass (glas - grey haired)
      • Armstrong, Godard (good natured), Hardie (bold, daring, also a derivative of McHardy), Kenard (kind-hearted), Sharp (sharp or keen, also a derivative of McKerran), Smart (smeart, meaning active), Truman (true or trusty man) 
    • Ethnic origins
      • Wallace (Wealys, a Brython or Welshman), Bremner (Brabant), Inglis (English), Scott, Fleming
      • Galbraith (Mac a' Bhreatannaich, son of the Brython or Welsh speaker), MacDougall (MacDhùghaill
      • MacDhubhghaill, son of a Dubhghall, a certain type of Norseman), Gall
    • Surnames based on animals
      • Matheson (MacMhathain, son of the bear), MacKechnie (MacEacharna, son of the horse lord), MacCalmain (son of the dove)
      • Hogg, Dove, Brock (broc - a badger), Todd (a fox)
    • Ecclesiastical, many beginning with (Mac)gil (MacGhille-)
      • Kirk (church), Bell
      • MacLean (MacGhill-Eain, son of the servant of St John), Gilchrist (MacGhilleChriosd, son of the servant of Christ), MacPherson (Mac a' Phearsain, son of the ecclesiastic), MacMillan (MacMhaolain, son of the tonsured one, i.e. a monk), Dewar (Mac-an-Deòir or Deòrach), Gilmour (MacGhilleMhuire - servant of St Mary), Mellis (MacGhilleIosa or Maol-Iosa - servant of Jesus)
  • It should be noted that in the Celtic Church until surprisingly late, that churchmen and monks could marry, hence the proliferation of names such as MacNab (Mac-an-Aba, son of the abbot).

Clan Names[edit | edit source]

Many Scottish surnames are the names of Scottish clans that were once powerful families dominating large swaths of territory. However, it is a common misconception that every person who bears a clan's name is a lineal descendant of the chiefs of that particular clan. There are several reasons for this. In many cases, the families that originally lived on the lands acquired by powerful clans (such as the Campbells, Gordons, Macdonalds, and Mackenzies) adopted the names of their new lords. In some cases, the name of a clan may be identical to the surname of another family, yet there is no historical connection between the different families. A surname derived from a patronym, such as MacDonald may be used by numerous unconnected families descended from different men named Donald.[1]

After the Battle of Culloden in , many people changed their surnames from clan names to less Gaelic names to avoid being punished by the British government.

Some surnames were also directly translated into English, e.g. Mac a' Bhrataich and MacGhilledhuinn could be rendered into Bannerman and Brown/Broun, and sometimes unrelated names were used to translate each other, e.g. Mac na Ceardaich (son of the tinsmith) is rendered Sinclair in some places, MacDhonnchaidh (son of Duncan) as Robertson.

Bynames[edit | edit source]

Bynames, to-names, or other names, were once very common in Scotland. These names were used in areas where there were few names in circulation, and the bynames were added onto the name of person, in order to distinguish them from others who bore the same name. Bynames were particularly prevalent in fishing communities in the northeastern part of Scotland, but were also used in the Borders and the West Highlands. In some cases within fishing communities, the names of fishing boats were tacked onto the names of people in order to differentiate them from others.[2]

Traditional pronunciation[edit | edit source]

Many Scottish surnames have pronunciations which are traditional in Scotland. Sometimes these are reflected in phonetic spellings. Some of these have died out, or are currently being supplanted within Scotland itself. They may differ from American or English pronunciations:

  • Brown - "Broon"
  • Christie - "Krist-ee" (first "i" short)
  • Cochrane - "Cock-run"
  • Cockburn - "Coh-burn"
  • Colquhoun - "Cahoon" or "Col-hoon"
  • Crichton - "Cry-tun"
  • Dalziel - "Die-yell" or "Day-ell"
  • Farquhar - "Farker"
  • Forbes - "Forbees" or "For bays"
  • Graham - "Gray-um" or "Grayhum"
  • Kerr - "Carr"
  • Lithgow - "Lith-goe"
  • MacKay - "Mac-Kye"
  • MacKean - "Mac-Kain" (now rare)
  • MacKenzie - "MacKinnie" or "Mackinyie" (now almost obsolete)
  • MacLean - "Ma-clane"
  • MacLeod - "Ma-cloud"
  • Marjoribanks - "Marchbanks"
  • Menzies - "Mingis"
  • Methven - "Meven" or "Meffin"
  • Moray - "Murray"
  • Muir - "Myoor"
  • Niven - "Neevin"
  • Reid - "Reed"
  • Ruthven - "Riven"
  • Urquhart - "Urkut" or "Urkurt"
  • Wemyss - "Weemz"

Another aspect of Scottish surnames is pronunciation. "A List of Surnames Pronounced Differently from What the Spelling Suggests" ()[3], available online, identifies some more unusual examples.

Given Names[edit | edit source]

  • A significant percentage of traditional Scottish names have Gaelic origins.
  • There are similarities between many Scottish and Irish given names. In the early part of the Middle Ages, the name pools in Gaelic Scotland and Ireland were more or less the same, since the Gaels came to Scotland from Ireland. Over time, the name pools diverged and some early Gaelic names that went out of fashion in one culture remained in fashion in the other. [4]
  • In some parts of north west Scotland, women are often given the feminized forms of male names, e.g. Donaldina or Donalda, Angusina, Williamina. This used to be widespread in Scotland in the 19th century, but is now out of fashion. Sometimes these names may provide a clue to the names of close male relatives.
  • In Orkney and Shetland, many forenames have derivations from pet forms of Scandinavian names, e.g. Rasmie derives from Erasmus. This is because Norn was spoken in these parts into the 18th and 19th centuries.
  • Roman Catholics will have confirmation names. These are often used as middle names, and may be used later in life, but will not necessarily appear in birth or Christening records.

Sometimes first names will also be translated into English or rendered by a different name. In former times, it was common for this to be done by the authorities, with or without the permission of the bearer. For example, someone called Gilleasbaig may find his name rendered either Archibald or Gillespie, and the woman's name Oighrig has been rendered variously as Africa and Euphemia ("Effie"). In more distant times, one of the Lords of Galloway was known as Roland or Lochlan, and Flora MacDonald, would have been known as Fionnghal in her native tongue.

Naming Patterns[edit | edit source]

The Scots, for the most part, had a naming pattern which can be seen in many families. The pattern generally went as follows:

  • The first son was named after the father’s father.
  • The second son after the mother’s father.
  • The third son after the father.
  • The first daughter after the mother’s mother.
  • The second daughter after the father’s mother.
  • The third daughter after the mother.

According to "The Scottish Onomastic Child-naming Pattern," by John Barrett Robb, another naming system called the "ancestral pattern," generally went as follows:

  • The first son was named for his father's father.
  • The second son was named for his mother's father.
  • The third son was named for his father's father's father.
  • The fourth son was named for his mother's mother's father.
  • The fifth son was named for his father's mother's father.
  • The sixth son was named for his mother's father's father.
  • The seventh through tenth sons were named for their father's four great-grandfathers.
  • The eleventh through fourteenth sons were named for their mother's four great-grandfathers.

According to Donald J. Steel in Sources for Scottish Genealogy and Family History, (Chichester, Sussex: Phillimore & CO. Ltd., , in National Index of Parish Registers Vol. 12, p 47) there are variations to the naming pattern described above.  Sometimes the second son and daughter were named after the parents.  Another variation is that the eldest son was named after the mother's father, the 2nd son after the father's father.  The eldest daughter was named after the father's mother, and the 2nd daughter after the mother's mother and so on.

  • The first daughter was named for her mother's mother.
  • The second daughter was named for her father's mother.
  • The third daughter was named for her mother's father's mother.
  • The fourth daughter was named for her father's father's mother.
  • The fifth daughter was named for her mother's mother's mother.
  • The sixth daughter was named for her father's mother's mother.
  • The seventh through tenth daughters were named for their mother's four great-grandmothers.
  • The eleventh through fourteenth daughters were named for their father's four great-grandmothers.

Sometimes when a child died, the next child of that gender born into the family was given the same name as the deceased child. Occasionally two or more living children in the family were given the same given name. When they were christened, children were usually given one or two given names.

Scotland Nicknames[edit | edit source]

Many given names have at least one associated nickname. When names are recorded in civil registration of birth, marriage, and death or in church records, a nickname may have been used instead of the more formal given name (Kate/Katie for Catherine, Jinty for Janet, Gussie for Angus or Jock for John (or more rarely James), for example). Many nicknames are easy to spot, but others are not.

Nicknames can lead the researcher astray if used incorrectly. Sandy or Sandie is one example, being used for both Alexander and Alexandra (it is sometimes seen as "Sandi" in its feminine form nowadays); Charlie or Charley being used for both Charles and Charlotte.

There are also Scottish variants to common English given names. Following are just a few examples of common Scottish variants and spelling:
Alexander - Alec, Eck, Sandy, Sander, Xander.
Ann/Anne/Anna - Anice, Annag, Annella, Annis, Annys.
Andrew - Andro.
Elizabeth - Elspeth.
George - Dod.
James - Hamish.
Jane - Jean, Janet Jessie.
John - Ian.
Katherine - Catrina, Caitriona, Ceitidh.
Mary - Mae, Morag.

For Further Reading[edit | edit source]

  • Black, George Fraser. Surnames of Scotland: Their Origin, Meaning, and History. New York: New York Public Library, (Family History Library book D4b.) At various libraries (WorldCat)
  • Dorward, David. Scottish SurnamesAt various libraries (WorldCat)
  • Dunkling, Leslie Ann. Scottish Christian Names: An A-Z of First Names. London, England: Johnston and Bacon, At various libraries (WorldCat)
  • Foster, Craig L. Scottish Clans and Naming Patterns
  • Gardner, David E., and Frank Smith. Genealogical Research in England and Wales. Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft Publishers, (Family History Library book Gg .) Many names in pre records are in Latin. Volume three contains a select list of Latin given names with the English equivalent. At various libraries (WorldCat)
  • Guppy, Henry Brougham. Homes of Family Names in Great Britain. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing, (Family History Library book D4g ) This book discusses the geographic origins and meanings of certain surnames. At various libraries (WorldCat)
  • Hanks, Patrick, and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. New York, New York: Oxford University Press, Digital version at Ancestry - free; (Family History Library book Hd. BYU FHL book CS .H27 ) The book contains entries for most major surnames of European origin and some rare surnames.
  • Krossa, Sharon L. Quick and Easy Gaelic Names
  • Lasker, G. W. and C. G. N. Mascie-Taylor. Atlas of British Surnames: With Maps of Selected Surnames. Detroit, Michigan: Wayne State University Press, (Family History Library book D4Lg.) This book charts with maps the density of surnames in Scotland.At various libraries (WorldCat)
  • Robb, John Barrett. “The Scottish Onomastic Child-naming Pattern.”
  • Titford, John . Searching for Surnames: A Practical Guide to their Meanings and Origins. Newbury, England: Countryside Books, (Family History Library book D4tj.) This book discusses the meaning and origins of early surnames.At various libraries (WorldCat)
  • "A List of Surnames Pronounced Differently from What the Spelling Suggests"()][5]

See also[edit | edit source]

External Links[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. ↑"Scottish surnames", in Wikipedia,, accessed 19 February
  2. ↑"Scottish surnames", in Wikipedia,, accessed 19 February
  3. ↑Robert Charles Hope, A Glossary of Dialectal Place-nomenclature, To Which is Appended A List of Family Surnames Pronounced Differently from What the Spelling Suggests (London: Simpkin, Marshall, ). Digitised by Internet Archive - free.
  4. ↑"Quick and Easy Gaelic Names", by Sharon L. Krossa,, accessed 19 February
  5. ↑Robert Charles Hope, A Glossary of Dialectal Place-nomenclature, To Which is Appended A List of Family Surnames Pronounced Differently from What the Spelling Suggests (London: Simpkin, Marshall, ).

Names name scottish behind the

Extract from High Court minute book

Background information

Why surname spelling varies

How to use surname search options

Surnames in Scotland

Further reading on surnames

Background information

This guide is about surnames and how to search effectively by surname in records that are indexed by personal name. It gives you some background on the development of surnames in Scotland, tells you common reasons why surnames have variations or the spelling of surnames are sometimes not what you might expect. It gives you advice on how to use surname search options to improve your searching.

Why surname spelling varies

The way surnames were written in different records varied and, when searching for a person in our indexes, the spelling might differ from what you expect. This can be due to one or more of the following factors:

  • transcription error during indexing
  • misspelling, phonetic spelling or other misinterpretation by registrars and clerks
  • deliberate or accidental misrepresentation by informants
  • surname variants
  • the family members may have altered their surname after emigration from Scotland, or anglicised the name on arrival in Scotland
  • families from the Highlands and Western Isles may have anglicised their Gaelic surname, for example, MacIan to Johnston.

How to use surname search options

Image showing the search options buttons on the advanced people search

If you are unsure of the spelling of a surname, or you suspect the name may have been recorded differently, you can use the 'surname search options' to improve your search. Here are the ways you can use the search options:

Leave the surname field blank

You can leave the surname field blank and search by using only a forename or other search fields.

Exact names only

If you select 'Exact names only' it will return all entries that contain the whole search name, so a search on the surname DOUGLAS, for example, will return all DOUGLAS entries. Hyphenated names such as MONTAGU-DOUGLAS and DOUGLAS-HOME are also returned. Variations in the spelling of the search name and partial matches (where the search name is included in a longer name), for example DOUGLASS, will not be returned.

Fuzzy Matching

Fuzzy matching compares each word in the name searched for with each word in the names in the index using the Levenshtein distance formula. A score of half the number of letters in the word or greater is considered a match. The Levenshtein distance is a metric for measuring the amount of difference between two sequences (the so-called edit distance).

Names that begin with

If you select 'Names that begin with' it will return all matches which begin with the letters searches, and DOUGLAS, for example, will return DOUGLASS.

Name variants

If you select 'Name variants' the search is expanded by comparing a list of variants for each name on the ScotlandsPeople site. This has been compiled over many years by staff in the National Records of Scotland and ScotlandsPeople Centre, often based on suggestions from customers. The name variants list does not differentiate between a surname and a forename (because many names can be either), so a search for CLARE (depending on other search filters) might return CLAIR, CLAIRE and SINCLAIR. The list is a work in progress and new variants are proposed frequently. We realise that name variants can be a controversial topic and, like the other search options, the 'Name Variants' search option will help with some searches and not with others.

Phonetic matching

Phonetic matching is an attempt to deal with variations in spelling the same word, especially personal names, based on the combination of letters representing sounds. It relies on a phonetic algorithm to suggest possible variations of the same word. On the ScotlandsPeople site we use the Beider-Morse phonetic matching system (sometimes abbreviated as BMPM). For more information on this see the Steve Morse website.

Wildcards allowed

If you select 'Wildcards allowed' it allows you to use symbols to find variations in the characters within a word.

  • Substitute the asterisk (*) or percentage sign (%) for zero or more characters
  • Substitute the question mark (?) or underscore (_) for one character only

These characters can be substituted anywhere in the surname or forename and can be employed in various combinations. However, you should try to be as specific as possible in your use of wildcards to avoid returning unnecessary amounts of data. Here are some tips about using wildcards:

  • A wildcard search on a surname will still return entries with extra forenames and those where the chosen forename appears as a second or subsequent forename.
  • Where a surname may have been recorded with a spelling involving only one change of letter, for example, SMITH recorded as SMYTH or CALLISON recorded as CALLASON, you may find it useful to employ the question mark wildcard (?) to locate them.
  • Be careful in your use of the asterisk wildcard (*) at the end of a surname. For example, BRYD* would locate any names beginning with BRYD, such as BRYDON, BRYDAN, but also BRYDENTON, BRYDALL, and BRYDSON.
  • Where a Mc surname may have been recorded as Mac, or vice versa, use the asterisk wildcard (*) to locate it. For example, M*CDONALD or M*CDONALD will find both MCDONALD and MACDONALD entries.
  • You can use multiple wildcards in a single search, for example, searching on M*CGIL*V?R*Y will return many variants of the surname; MCGILVERY, MCGILLVERY, MCGILIVARY, MCGILLIVARY, MCGILLIVERY, MCGILLIVERAY, MCGILVARAY, MCGILVAREY, MCGILVARY, MCGILVEREY and so on, together with the Mac versions.
  • Entries in the surname field must contain a minimum of two characters, but neither of these can be a wildcard. For example, M*, *M, will not be accepted, but M*M, MA*, or *MA are all accepted.

Surnames in Scotland

Permanent surnames began to be used in Scotland around the 12th century, but were initially mainly the preserve of the upper echelons of Scottish society. However, it gradually became necessary to distinguish ordinary people one from the other by more than just the given name and the use of Scottish surnames spread. In some Highland areas, however, fixed surnames did not become the norm until the 18th century, and in parts of the Northern Isles until the 19th century.

The influences on Scottish surnames are many and varied and often more than one has resulted in the surname that we know today. It is therefore very difficult to attribute sources for surnames with complete certainty, although there are many books on the subject of surname origins that attempt to do just that. Here are just some of the elements thought to have contributed to present day surnames:

Foreign influences on Scottish surnames

External influences have played a crucial role in the shaping of surnames in Scotland. The migration of the Scots from Ireland into the Southwest in the 5th century, nurturing the spread of Gaelic language and culture, the influence of the resident Picts, the establishment of the Britons in Strathclyde, and Anglian immigrants in Lothian and the Borders, all contributed to the melting pot of surnames that we have today.

The Norsemen, through their seasonal raiding and subsequent colonisation of the Western and Northern Isles, left behind aspects of their heritage and language that endure not least in the surnames of these areas, for example Gunn is originally derived from the Norse and appears in significant numbers in the North of Scotland. Scandinavian influence can be seen in other parts of Scotland too, for example, Thorburn is an old Norse name found in the Scottish borders and around Edinburgh.

Norman influence filtered into Scotland after their invasion of England, and was actively encouraged by Scottish kings. Anglo-Norman nobles acquired grants of land around Scotland and introduced the feudal system of land tenure. For example, Robert the Bruce was a descendant of Robert de Brus who fought with William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings. Bissett, Boyle, Colville, Corbett, Gifford, Hay, Kinnear and Fraser are all originally Norman names, which first appeared in Scotland in the 12th century. Menzies and Graham are recognised Anglo-Norman surnames also first seen in Scotland at this time.

Continuing into more recent times, the effect of Irish immigration during the 19th century can be seen in the surnames now in use in Scotland, for example Daly or Dailly is an Irish name derived from O’Dalaigh and concentrations can be found in areas where Irish immigrants settled, around Glasgow and Dundee. This is borne out in the records, with very few people of that surname appearing in the OPRs, but significant numbers appearing in the statutory registers. Names like Docherty and Gallacher, now quite common in Scotland, are also relatively recent additions.

Location-based surnames

Many of the first permanent surnames are territorial in origin, as landowners became known by the name of the lands that they held, for example Murray from the lands of Moray, and Ogilvie, which, according to Black, derives from the barony of Ogilvie in the parish of Glamis, Angus. Tenants might in turn assume, or be given, the name of their landlord, despite having no kinship with him.

Occupational surnames

A significant amount of surnames are derived from the occupations of their owners, Some of these are obvious, for example Smith, Tailor, Mason, and others might be less obvious for example Baxter (baker), Stewart (steward), Wardrope (keeper of the garments of a feudal household) and Webster (weaver). Cordiner, Soutar and Grassick are all derived from shoemaker, the latter being from the Gaelic for shoemaker, greusaich.


Many Scottish surnames originated in patronymics, whereby a son’s surname derived from the father’s forename, for example John Donaldson’s son might be Peter Johnson, whose son might be Magnus Peterson, and so on. Patronymics present something of a challenge for the family historian in that the surname changed with each successive generation.

This practice died out in Lowland Scotland after the 15th century, as patronymic surnames became permanent family names. It persisted, however, in the Highlands and Islands well into the 18th century (see Mac surnames) and in the Northern Isles until the 19th century.

The system was applied to daughters’ names too, with the girl adopting the father’s forename with daughter applied to the end of the name. The daughter suffix was habitually abbreviated in the records, for example, Janet Adamsdaughter becomes Janet Adamsdaur, or Adamsdr or Adamsd. An entry from the Lerwick OPR in , neatly illustrates the effect of patronymics with the birth/baptism of William Laurenceson to Laur. Erasmuson and Katharine Nicollsdr.

Ola Cristophersone

Ola Cristophersone

Sinevo Matchis dochter

Sinevo Matchis dochter

Mac Surnames

Mac is a prefix to surnames of Gaelic origin meaning son. For example, Macdhomhnuill translates to Macdonald, meaning son of Donald.

You may come across the feminine version Nc, an abbreviation of nighean mhic or daughter of Mac, attached to a woman’s surname, and sometimes further abbreviated to N'. There are many examples in the old parish registers, particularly in the 17th and 18th centuries, for example Ncfarlane, Ncdonald, Ncdearmit, Ncfee, but there are only isolated examples by the early 19th century.

In earlier records, a person might be known not only by the father’s name but also by the grandfather’s name. As such, you may come across the use of Vc, meaning grandson or granddaughter, for example, in Dugall Mcdugall Vcean (Dugall, son of Dugall, grandson of Ean) married Marie Camron or NcNdonochie Vcewn .

Some Mac surnames originated in occupations, for example Macnab (son of the abbott), Maccosh (son of the footman), Macmaster (son of the master or cleric), Macnucator (son of the wauker or fuller of cloth), later anglicised Walker. Others derive from distinguishing features, for example Macilbowie (son of the yellow haired lad), Macilchrum (son of the bent one). Yet others contain vestiges of Norse influence, for example Maciver (son of Ivar, a Norse personal name), since the Mac prefix was not the exclusive preserve of the Gaels, being adopted in some cases by the Norsemen and by some Lowland Scots, particularly on the Highland periphery, for example Macgibbon, Macritchie.

Many Mac surnames no longer in use such as Macolchallum were abandoned because they were too difficult to pronounce, corrupted over the years by phonetic spelling, or anglicised.

Mac surnames were also written as Mc, Mhic, or M’. Mc/Mac surnames are indexed separately in the database, but it is very common to find the same person’s surname registered as Mc in one record and Mac in another, so you should always check both. Using the asterisk wildcard (*) will return both versions in one search, for example M*CDONALD will retrieve both MCDONALD and MACDONALD entries.

Ronald m[a]cdonald v[i]c Ean

Ronald m[a]cdonald v[i]c Ean

T[estament] d[ative] Janet Fraser alias nein donill vic robie

T[estament] d[ative] Janet Fraser alias nein donill vic robie

Please note that some index entries have an unfortunate gap between the Mc/Mac and the rest of the name.  Staff will correct them as they come across them and any customers who spot these should report them to us as index errors.  To try to account for these in search results, customers should try search options such as wildcards.  

Clan-based surnames

It is a common misconception that those who bear a clan surname are automatically descended from a clan chief. The ability of a clan to defend its territory from other clans depended greatly on attracting as many followers as possible. Being a member of a large and powerful clan became a distinct advantage in the lawless Highlands and followers might adopt the clan name to curry favour with the Laird, to show solidarity, for basic protection, or because their lands were taken by a more powerful neighbour and they had little option! Yet others joined a clan on the promise of much-needed sustenance.

Conversely, not all members of a clan used the clan surname. When Clan Gregor was proscribed in , many Macgregors were forced to adopt other surnames for example Grant, Stewart, Ramsay. When the clan was again proscribed during the 18th century, Rob Roy Macgregor adopted his mother’s name Campbell. Once the ban was lifted in , some reverted to the Macgregor name, but others did not.

Effects of Emigration and Migration

Many emigrants from Scotland changed their names on arrival in their new country, as did many people from the Highlands and Islands who migrated to the Scottish lowlands in search of work. Shortening or dropping the prefix Mc or Mac, or anglicising a Gaelic surname, or indeed changing the surname altogether for a similar sounding English one, which would be easier to pronounce and would conceal one’s origins, were quite common occurrences. Thus the Gaelic surname Macdonnchaidh or Macdonachie becomes Duncanson, Macian becomes Johnson, Macdonald is anglicised to Donaldson, Macilroy becomes Milroy, and Maccowan becomes Cowan. The Gaelic Mac Ghille dhuibh, or son of the black lad, seen in the surnames Macilduy, Macildue and Macildowie, translates to Black. Gilchrist, a gaelic name meaning servant of Christ, might be anglicised to Christopher. Illiteracy might, however, engender a change of surname by default, giving rise to weird and wonderful variants, for example Maclachlan recorded as Mcglauflin.

To-names or T-names

To-names or T-names meaning 'other names' or nicknames, were prevalent particularly in the fishing communities of North East Scotland, but were also seen in the Borders and to a lesser extent in the West Highlands.

In those areas where a relatively small number of surnames were in use, T-names were tacked on to the name to distinguish individuals with the same surname and forename. The nickname may have referred to a distinguishing feature or be the name of the fishing boat on which the person was employed. These T-names have made their way into the records. For example, amongst the numerous John Cowies of Buckie can be found fisherman John Cowie Carrot who married Isabella Jappie of Cullen in Was this perhaps a reference to the colour of his hair?

The T-name appears on a statutory results page in brackets in order to distinguish it from a middle name for example James (Rosie) Cowie, James (Bullen) Cowie, Jessie (Gyke) Murray, and may be designated in inverted commas on the image of the actual entry.

Early spellings may vary from later ones

You may find in older records that Quh and Wh are interchangeable, for example White might be recorded as Quhit, Quhytt, Quhyitt, Quhetit, Quheyt, Quhyte, and so on. Macwatt may be written as Macquhat. Ch or ck may be dropped from the end of a surname for example Tulloch is rendered as Tullo in many earlier records, Tunnock as Tunno. It is very common to find an e added to the end of surnames in earlier records (for example, Robertsone for Robertson, Pearsone for Pearson), or that w and u are interchangeable (for example, Gowrlay for Gourlay or Crauford for Crawford), or u being inserted to surnames ending in on or one (for example Cameroun for Cameron, Robertsoun or Robertsoune for Robertson). Names like Morrison may be rendered as Morison, likewise Ker for Kerr. A surname ending in y might be replaced with e as in Murray and Murrie. The letter i might be replaced with y as in Kidd and Kydd.

Further reading on surnames

For further information on the origins of Scottish surnames, the following books are helpful:

Black, George F, 'The Surnames of Scotland: their origin, meaning and history' (Edinburgh: Birlinn, , Reprinted , first published by the New York Public Library, ) - viewed as the principal work on surname origins.

Dorward, David, 'Scottish Surnames' (Glasgow: HarperCollins, ) – a pocket-sized book, which concentrates on surnames currently in use in Scotland. It is particularly useful for its information on surname concentrations.

Top 10 Scottish Names

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