the English name "William," Irish "Liam" is its charismatic, friendly cousin that just so happened to be the most popular boys' name of 2017 and 2018, according to Nameberry. But the name has actually been a popular British standby for a long time and counts several celebrities as namesakes, including actor Liam Neeson, former Oasis bandmember Liam Gallagher and One Direction member Liam Payne. While I think it's just distinctive enough to not be played out by being so in demand, there is a list of baby names if you like Liam from around the British Isles that hit the same round notes.
While most parents look for names that will set their babies apart, many don't seem to stray too far from popular name lists for fear of creating problems for their children. That's why taking a deeper look at traditional names in Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales is a good idea, because they are likely to come up with something that is unique and familiar. Because English is derived from several languages like
German, Latin, Gaelic, French, Welsh and more, we borrow from a variety of traditions that provide a deep well of names that have been used throughout the centuries. So if Liam is a favorite, but you want something less popular, here are 20 to think about. (Bonus: These aren't just for boys, either.) 1 Aiden Arman Zhenikeyev/Corbis/Getty Images
Originally a pet name for the Irish moniker Aodh, the Celtic god of Fire,
Aiden means "little and fiery," according to Nameberry: Aiden is a variation of Aidan, the anglicized version of the Irish Aodhán, "originally a pet form of the Irish name Aodh (pronounced 'ee'), who was the old Celtic god of the sun and fire." 2 Brennan
If you're looking for a Celtic name that is accessible but distinctive like Liam,
Brennan is a great choice that will set your little one just a bit apart from the rest. Don't let the meaning get you down ("descendent of the sad one," per Nameberry). 3 Colm
Irish for "dove,"
Colm is a gentle name for a boy you'd hope to impart his peaceful nature wherever he goes. But it's not pronounced like "calm," even if the meaning is a peaceful one: "Pronunciation is two syllables instead of one, like Colin with an ' ' at the end," explained Nameberry. m 4 Conall
Talk about powerful.
Conall means "strong as a wolf" and is a great alternative to all the little Connors your son will be running around with. And it can be spelled with one "l" or two, depending on your preference. 5 Cormac
Cormac is a
cheerful, rough-and-tumble choice that means "charioteer" and has a few illustrious members of its club, including author Cormac McCarthy and Cormac McLaggen, a classmate and fellow Gryffindor in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. And Cormac is pretty compact already, but you can always shorten this name to "Mac" in a pinch. 6 Finnegan
Wouldn't having a little Finn be adorable?
Irish for "fair," Finnegan is a playful yet resolute choice, especially for parents who love literature; the title of by James Joyce came from an old Irish-American song. Finnegans Wake 7 Finnian
Playful and melodic, Finnian is a
variant of the above Finnegan and also offers Finn and Ian as pet names. You might be familiar with its alternate spelling Finian thanks to the the classic 1968 Broadway musical , later made into a film starring Fred Astaire as Finian McLonergan. Finian's Rainbow 8 Garrett
Looking for a name fit for a warrior? Garrett is a strong choice that means
"spear strength" in Irish and has several spellings to make it even more interesting. "Gareth" is another, similar option with a slightly softer feel. 9 Niall
A name fit for a king, Niall (pronounced nye-all) recalls the
royal Irish ancestor that spawned all the O'Neills and MacNeils that have followed. Maybe this would be a good choice for someone whose surname won't be passed to their son. 10 Tiernan
Attractive and distinctive, Tiernan has lent its authority to a whole spate of Celtic kings and saints over the centuries. It's perennially popular in Northern Ireland, perhaps due to
meaning "little lord." (You've probably had a pint or two at a pub named Tiernan's at some point or another, as well.) 11 Gwen
If you love the ethereal beauty of Guinevere but are afraid you won't be doing your baby girl any favors with such a long and storied moniker, cut it short with the cute Gwen.
Meaning "white circle," this Welsh name will bestow the same glowing beauty as the former without twisting little tongues. 12 Fiona
"white and fair," Fiona is a lilting little beauty for your baby girl. And while it's not super popular, it's still familiar enough thanks to pop culture references like Princess Fiona from Shrek, Fiona Apple and the Fiona character from Shameless. 13 Bryony
For something that's botanical but not full-out floral, Bryony is the name of a climbing vine that the Brits love to bestow on
little sprouting girls. It's not a name you hear particularly often in the U.S., but it is lovely and romantic and poised for popularity, don't you think? 14 Matilda
Derived from the German language meaning
"battle-ready," this name was introduced into the English language in the 11th century by the Flemish queen of William the Conquerer and has enjoyed a storied tenure in the culture ever since. "Waltzing Matilda," anyone? 15 Nicola
A very popular choice in Britain that never made the jump across the pond, Nicola means
"people of victory" and is a more distinctive choice than Nicole. Elegant and charming, it's the name that brings castles and unicorns to mind. 16 Philippa
Like Nicola above, Philippa has been a
British standard forever and counts royal sister-in-law Philippa Middleton and Geoffrey Chaucer's wife Phillipa Roet among its members. 17 Blythe
Exorted by Shakespeare to be "blithe and bonny" in
A Midsummer's Night Dream, girls with this name will undoubtedly be as happy and carefree as Blythe compels them to be. 18 Cecily
Dainty and sweet, Cecily has graced
several namesakes in history like the mother of King Richard III, who was known as "the rose of Raby," the Beatrix Potter bunny Cecily Parsley, and actress Cecily Tyson. 19 Ailsa
Related to the rocky
Scottish island Ailsa Craig, Nameberry suggests Ailsa might be a nice alternative to Ashley or Elsa. It means "elf victory" and would be perfect for your little pixie. 20 Beatrice
With a long literary history that includes Shakespeare, Dante, and ahem, Tarantino,
"she who brings happiness" is sure to brighten your life upon her arrival. And think of all the nicknames! 21 Bronwen
In Welsh mythology, Bronwen was
daughter to the god of the sea and has been the namesake of little girls throughout the country's history. It's dignified, a touch exotic, and you can have a cute little Winnie running around in a crowd of Emmas.
This article was originally published on
Sep. 5, 2018