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..............................1872e Enwau - Tudalen Ymgyfeirio / Names - Orientation Page
..........................................1937e Cyfeirddalen i Enwau Bedydd / Forenames - Orientation Page
........................................................0316e Cyfeirddalen i Enwau Bedydd Cymru / Welsh Forenames - Orientation Page
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In this section we’ll be listing Welsh forenames and indicating the gender, pronunciation, origin and use.
HOW MANY NAMES?
The list at present contains over 400 names, but is still far from complete. However, to show the range of names we intend to explain, and as a reminder to ourselves that it was about time to develop our names section, we put the page onto our website on
Much of the material is original and
will not be found in any other source. The author, Ianto Glan Tawe, is a
graduate in Celtic languages of the
Inevitably (?) minor errors creep into these web pages and sometimes escape detection even when we revise the pages before we place them onto the Internet. We tend to spot them eventually and eliminate them - having allowed other minor errors to slip by in the meantime.
Remember that the y with an umlaut (ÿ) doesn’t exist in the standard spelling - we use it here to distinguish the two types of ‘y’ in Welsh - its usual sound is an obscure vowel (like the first sound in English ‘about’). But it can also represent an ‘i’ sound, which in
‘Bryn’ is the normal spelling, but we have placed (Brÿn) after it to indicate the pronuncation of the ‘y’.
PLACE NAMES AS FIRST NAMES
Some names from toponyms (eg Hirwaun) are not usually used as a first Christian name. They occur as a second element in the name and indicate a connection with a particular locality. This is also the case with certain saints names (eg Tegla, from the
However, if the name is seen as attractive, or for whatever other reason, it may become used as a first name over time
Thus, some toponyms and saints names have become, for various reasons, usual as first Christian names
Aled = river name,
Illtud = saints name, from Llanilltud
BOTH MASCULINE AND FEMININE
Note that some names can be both masculine or feminine - for example, Ceri, Gwynedd
Some examples of shortenings of names:
Loss of final syllable: Caradog / C’radog > Crad, Cledwyn > Cled,
Loss of final syllable, addition of ‘s’: Siencyn / Shincyn > Shincs, Emrys >
Loss of first (unstressed) syllable: Cadwaladr / Cadwalad’ > Dwalad, Cadwgan > Dwgan
Most diminutive forms are merely the name shortened to the first syllable
Ieuan > Ieu
sometimes with some phonetic change
Morgan > Moc, Mog
and sometimes with the addition of a diminutive ending
Ifan > If + i > Ifi
Diminutive endings are: -w, -i, -cyn, -s, -ws, -o, -an
Change of a first consonant coincides with English practice, and occurs only with names found in English, so we can assume that both the full name and the diminutive are from English
Wiliam > Wil > Bil (English: Bill)
Rhobert > Ròb > Bòb (English: Bob)
Mari > Mali > Pali (English: Polly)
Sara > Sali > Lali (English: Polly)
Marged > Peg (English: Peg)
Rhisart > Dic (English: Dick)
Some names show the use of ‘l’ for ‘r’ (and so were probably children’s attempts at saying the name that became pet forms)
Mari > Mali
Iorwerth > Ior- > Iolo
Sara > Sali
Another likely infantile pronuciation is Bedo (Bed- + diminutive sufix) for Maredudd (m) and Guto or Gutÿn (Gut- + diminutive sufix) for Grufudd
In the list below, some names are merely pet forms and are not used as ‘officially’ - for example, Shôni is from Siôn (John), but is unlikely that it would be used on a birth certificate. We note in these cases ‘Not used as a baptismal name’ or ‘not a name in its own right’. (Some however have made the grade - the popular form Iolo, from Iorwerth, is now an independent first name; other examples are Lýn (Llywelyn), Jac (Jon, Siôn), Betsan (Elisabeth), Guto (Gruffudd) etc
FORMATION OF GIRL’S NAMES
Some girl’s names are formed by adding ‘a’ to a man’s name
Ifan + a = Ifana,
Meirion + a = Meiriona
See the entry “-a” in the list of names and name elements after this introduction
Many are made by adding -wen to various initial elements.
In older names Gwen is always a first element (as in Gwenhwyfar - the Cornish equivalent of which gave ‘Jennifer’). It can mean variously ‘white’, ‘pure’, ‘holy’, ‘resplendent’, ‘fair’, ‘pretty’. From this Gwen became a name in its own right.
Some names have the same elements in reverse order - Gwenfair, Meirwen (= holy Mary), Gweneira, Eirwen = snow white. But in fact it seems to be used as a suffix without any specific semantic content - rather like ‘-a’, which is only used to indicate a female name. Naming with names in ‘-wen’ are not now as common as they were in the 1800’s and the early 1900’s
(1) an aspirated ‘l’, standard spelling = ‘ll’ (Llwyd, etc) which we represent by ‘lh’;
(2) an aspirated ‘r’ (standard spelling ‘rh’) (Rhys, etc) which we represent by ‘hr’.),
(3) and ‘ch’ as in German “Nacht” (Coch, etc) for which we use the symbol ‘kh’.
Note: We use the term ‘Englandic’ to mean
(1) (noun) ‘the kind of English spoken in
(2) (adjective) ‘English; of the
English spoken in
‘Englandic surname’ = a surname of an English type (especially one with the genitive ’s - Jones, Williams, etc)
There are other sites with Welsh forenames on the Internet, but all of them I have seen so far are extremely inaccurate - entertaining, but nonsense!
It’s good to see that people are interested in producing websites dedicated to Welsh names. But - BEWARE!
One example is
http://fido_mom.tripod.com/welsh4all.html Welsh Names for All
Its drawbacks are typical of such sites:
1) many of the names are not Welsh
(Blair - in fact Scottish, from a surname from a village name - blàr = field, battlefield)
(Bow - son of Owen! - though Bow could be used in English as a short form of the Welsh surname Bowen, I suppose, but it is definitely not used as a forename in Welsh)
2) most names which are in fact Welsh are in English spelling, and no indication is given of which ones are in the correct Welsh spelling. When Gwladus has the form and spelling Gladys it is no longer a ‘Welsh’ name, but an English name adapted from an original Welsh form.
3) the meanings are often fanciful (Aerona - like a berry!) (there is a Welsh word ‘aeron’ = berries, but this is not the one in question). Aeron is a river name, and was the name of a (presumed) Celtic war goddess (the root is aer, an obsolete word for battle or war). As the river name is given to males as a forename, a form with a final -a to make it a female name has been used sometimes)
4) There’s no indication of pronunciation
5) There’s no indication of what names are in use, which are considered old-fashioned nowadays, which ones haven’t been used for a thousand years or more, etc
6) As I have said, it is good to see people wanting to make lists of Welsh names. But really a knowledge of the Welsh language is necessary (See our sections on learning Welsh!).
And often in good faith makers of such lists accept what is contained in ‘Name Your Child’ -type books, most of which seem to be recompilations of each other, and repeat the most annoying idiocies about Welsh names!
(Such books again are written by people with no knowledge of Welsh, and so it is natural that the most glaring and absurd errors go undetected)
(If it’s not published in
Place names as forenames.
Although not common, there are instances of place names becoming forenames. This practice dates from the 1800s, among ministers and preachers. Because so many had the same English names (David Jones, John Williams, and so on) it was necessary to add something to distinguish themselves from their namesakes (Of course, they could have changed their names completely, and given themselves Welsh names, but his would have appeared odd or lunatic in those days).
Generally, people often acquired a place-name tag to makes themselves more identifiable. It could be the place of origin, or the place in which a minister had settled and with which he had become associated. For example, to give a hypothetical example, John Jones from Aberteifi (mouth of the river Teifi) might be called by other people John Jones Aberteifi (the John Jones from Aberteifi, to distinguish him from the John Jones from Dolgellau, or Caergybi, or Aberhonddu, etc). The man himself might then style himself John Aberteifi Jones, or rather than the town name might use only the river name - John Teifi Jones.
Generally, because the ministers were in the Welsh non-Conformist churches, and were Welsh-speakers and generally patriotic, they would use the Welsh form of names, rather than the alien English forms. However, there are many examples of English forms in use - as in (another hypothetical example until I find some genuine ones!) John Cardiff Williams rather than John Caerdydd Williams.
These middle names would not be official - they would not be adopted as a legal name. However, they would later be perceived as male names and in succeeding generations be used as a forename, giving curious results such as Aeron being used as the name for male - in fact Aeron was a Celtic goddess of war, regarded by the British as the river spirit of this Ceredigion river However, any memory that it was a female goddess name is lost (it is nothing more than ‘a river name’ for most people). A female forename has in fact come into use by adding -a : Aerona.
Here is an example of this process of adding a place-name in the form of a middle name as an identifier.
ORIGINAL WELSH TEXT: W. Margam Jones, Llwydcoed (1864-1944). Ganwyd y Parchedig William (Margam) Jones 11 Chwefror, 1864, mewn ffermdy o’r enw Grugwellt Fach ar Fynydd Margam ym Morgannwg. Ef oedd yr ail fab o naw o blant. John oedd y brawd hyn, a adnabyddid wedi hynny fel y Parch. John Morgan Jones, Merthyr Tudful... Yn y flwyddyn 1890 aeth i Goleg Trefeca. Yno y cafodd yr enw “Margam”; mae’n debyg fod eraill o’r myfyrwyr yn cario’r enw anghyffredin William Jones...Ymhen y flwyddyn daeth David Charles Davies yno’n Brifathro. Roedd gan Fargam feddwl uchel ohono ac ni flinai ar gydnabod ei ddyled iddo.
W. Margam Jones, Llwydcoed (1864-1944). Y Parchedig Morgan R. Mainwaring, MA, Caerdydd (Gweision Gwahanol gyda’r Hen Gorff / Gomer M Roberts a William Morris (golygyddion) / Llyfrfa’r Methodistiaid Calfinaidd / Caernarfon / 1974)
TRANSLATION:. Margam Jones, Llwytgoed (1864-1944). The Reverend William (Margam) Jones was born on 11 February, 1864, in a farmhouse by the name of Grugwellt Fach on Mynydd Margam (the mountain / high pasture of Margam) in (the county of) Morgannwg / Glamorgan. He was the second son in a family of nine children. John was the eldest brother, and was later known as the Reverend John Morgan Jones, Merthyr Tudful... In the year 1890 he went to Coleg Trefeca (a college for aspiring Calvanistic Methodist ministers). There he received the name “Margam”; it seems that there were other students with the unusual (note: the author is being sardonic) name William Jones... That year David Charles Davies arrived to take up the postion of head of the college. Margam had a high opinion of him and never tired of acknowledging his debt to him.
In the above passage we can see the use of a place-name tag to identify ministers - William Jones was minister in Llwytgoed (the spelling Llwydcoed is common, but erroneous!) and his brother in nearby Merthyrtudful. The name Margam is suitable as a middle name because it is short, and is a place which is fairly well-known in south-east
A list of names (though not very
accurate) on a BBC website. There are sound files for each name.
1853e Contact us via our guestbook
1265e First page of the list of Welsh forenames
Adolygiad diweddaraf - latest update: 2006-10-11
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