Finn: Getting to Finn from Griffin, Fintan & More

by appellationmountain on January 18, 2013

Huck Finn Huck Finn (Photo credit: protoflux)

He’s a lively, carefree name just right for a modern boy – part Huck, part Hudson.  While we don’t know too many men by the name, it is easy to imagine it on a grown-up.  With roots in Irish legend and a smooth, modern sound, it is easy to see why parents have embraced Finn.

But what if you’re not comfortable with a single-syllable name?  There are oodles of options for a more formal version.

Here are some of the best ways to get to Finn.

Top 1000 Ways to Get to Finn

Finn ranks in the US Top 1000, but so do three other names that can easily be shortened to Finn.

Griffin - Plenty of boys called Griffin are probably answering to both syllables.  But he’s a good choice if you’re looking for a name that doesn’t require a nickname – but has an appealing one built in, just in case.

Finnegan – At #478 in 2011, he’s just inside the US Top 1000, making him uncommon – for now.  The surname means son of Finn.

Finley – Just a few paces behind Finnegan, Finley is an interesting one.  He comes from Finn plus the element laoch - warrior or hero.  Since the original Finn was a hero in myth, that’s no surprise.  What’s more interesting is that Finley seems to have met up with an Old Norse name.  Finnr is an Old Norse name meaning wanderer, spelled Finnur in modern use.

Traditional Gaelic Names to Get to Finn

This category isn’t as big as I’d first hoped, but there are a few relatively rare, and perfectly legitimate, names modern parents can embrace.

Finbar – St. Finbar lived in Cork in the sixth century, but I think of the Kennedys when I hear this name.  Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. has a son named William Finbar.

Fingal, Fingall - He’s Scottish Gaelic, said to come from the legends of Finn McCool.  James Macpherson penned a poem called Fingal back in 1762.  The other reference that comes to mind?  Fingal Fingers, a series of crazy heavy hinged poles lifted as part of the World’s Strongest Man competition.  Yes, they take their name from the legend.

Finian, Finnian – Yet another saint, this one may be better known from the musical Finian’s Rainbow than his original roots.  He’s the original name plus a diminutive.

Finnan - Like Finian, Finnan comes from adding the ubiquitous -an ending, making the meaning something like “little fair one.”

Fintan - Yet another saintly name.  Fintan is said to be the only Irishman to survive the great floods.  He was a shapeshifter who came to Ireland with Noah’s granddaughter.  While everyone else was swept away by the rising waters, Fintan turned into a salmon.  The name was worn by several early saints.

Surname Ways to Get to Finn

Finley and Finnegan are already in the Top 1000.  Spelling variations abound.

Findlay, Findley, Finlay - All possible variations of Finley, though the d does change the pronunciation slightly.  Like Riley, these all have some currency as potential names for girls, too.

Finnigan, Finegan - Like many surnames, spelling variants are common.  These are two possible alternatives.

Vintage Ways to Get to Finn

Phinneas – He’s Phinehas in the Old Testament, and Julia Roberts used the spelling Phinnaeus for her son.  Plenty of other spellings are in use: Phineus, Phinneaus, and Phineas are all possibilities, as well as Fineas, Finneas and Finneus.  Overall, he feels like a great, vintage possibility for a boy.  But do you spell the short form Phin?

Surprising Ways to Get to Finn

Finis - Looking for a name for your very last child?  Finis is the French word for end, the source of our word finish.  It is pronounced fin EE, something like we’d say Finny.  It would be an almost outlandish choice for a given name, but might be great in the middle spot.

Finnick - A name invented for The Hunger Games, the heroic Finnick could appeal to many parents.  It is hard to believe that Suzanne Collins had to invent him – but he’s just not there until the novels were published, and has yet to make a mark as a given name.  Still, he just sounds like a great, Irish appellation, offering both Finn and Nick as possible short forms.

Odafin – The last – and wildest – entry comes courtesy Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.  Ice-T plays Odafin Tutuola.  His name means lawmaker in Yoruba.  Tutola answers to Fin on the show, and it makes a case for Finn as much more than just an Irish heritage choice.

Would you use a Finn on his own?  Do you prefer the longer versions?  Or is Finn not for you?

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