Finn: Baby Name of the Day

Finn Hudson GleeEditor’s note: This post was originally published on September 1, 2008 and was substantially revised on April 16, 2012 and again on July 8, 2013.

He’s simple, straightforward, and quite fashionable.

Thanks to Kim for suggesting today’s Name of the Day: Finn.

Finn reads Irish, and indeed, the original Finn was Fionn mac Cumhaill – that mythological warrior better known as Finn McCool. Fionn means fair, and referred to the hero’s hair color.

McCool performed the requisite heroic feats: outwitting an evil fairy, catching an enchanted fish, pursuing a maiden transformed into a deer. Legend has it that Finn is not dead, but merely sleeping, and will reawaken and protect Ireland in her hour of need.

Some scholars suggest that the title of James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake is a slurring of the phrase “Finn again is awake.”

He also appears as a minor dwarf in Old Norse mythology and as a legendary character in Frisian folklore. While the etymology of the Frisian name is lost, the Norse name Finnr is believed to stem from the Germanic finnr, which meant wanderer. Over time, it evolved to the name of Finland, and of course, the Finns themselves.

The most notable American bearer of the name was introduced as the juvenile pariah of the village … the son of the Town Drunkard. Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn is etched in the American imagination, headed down the Mississippi River with runaway slave Jim. The character lends Finn a maverick, footloose spirit and makes the name quintessentially American.

Most of the longer forms of Finn stay true to their shamrock green roots:

  • Finley (#794 in 2007, up to #547 in 2012, and also popular for girls, at #347 in 2012)
  • Finnegan (#653 in 2007, up to #491 in 2012)
  • Finbar (unranked, but used by the Kennedys)
  • Other unranked possibilities, like Finnian.

Julia Robert’s son Phinnaeus Walter, born in 2004, is part of the Finn phenomenon (Thanks to Corinne for pointing out the correct spelling!) He’s not Irish, but part of another trend – Biblical boys. Phineas or Phinehas is an Old Testament appellation, worn by two separate characters.

The popular Welsh Griffin is another possibility, and now The Hunger Games has given us the heroic Finnick.

But it is the single-syllable name at the top of the popularity charts. He debuted in the US at #833 in 2000. By 2007, he’d reached #387, in 2010 he stood at #300.  He’s reached a plateau, charting at #291 in 2012.  It’s too soon to say if he’s peaked, or if he’s just slowed down.  Tori Spelling welcomed son Finn Davey in 2012 – the high-profile family could spark more interest in the name.

Fictional figures include:

  • Quarterback-turned-glee-club-singer Finn Hudson is a staple on the cast of Glee.
  • Matthew McConaughey played Finn in Fool’s Gold.
  • The small screen also gives us characters in the animated Adventure Time, as well as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Gray’s Anatomy.
  • The Pepperidge Farm goldfish crackers mascot bears the name.

Finn is a fresher choice than well-worn Gaelic favorites like Ryan and Aidan. He’s simple and masculine, but not aggressive like Slade or Buck.

The only downside to this name is that he’s caught on quickly in recent years. Your Finn will probably share his name with others his age – or maybe a Finnegan and a Finley.

And yet, meeting more little Finns isn’t such a bad thing!


  1. says

    I don’t know why this post showed up as ‘new’ in my feed reader, but it was an interesting (re-)read anyway!

    In The Netherlands Finn started its popularity in 2000, when a high profile singer/entertainer – Thomas Acda – named his son Finn. There were only 32 Finns born in 1999; in 2000 there were 110 and the past few years there were 650-700 every year.

    Finns baby sister (b. Dec 2010) is named Lucy (Lucia Maria). I’m pretty sure that’s (going to be) another name on the rise. PS In Dutch it’s usually ‘lu-sie’ (with a French ‘u’) not ‘loo-sie’.

  2. Abby says

    Finn has been on my list for a few years… And if I really think about it, it’s probably because of Glee. ::embarrassed:: We’re having a boy this fall, and we’ve chosen two family names instead, but I still love the name. Maybe it will work for a future boy… Or maybe a horse! I’m saving all the names my husband doesn’t sign off on for future horses I’ll own. :-)

  3. Michelle says

    We used Finn for our son’s middle name. We get weird reactions all the time. I wish I felt as confident about it as most of you do. Maybe my part of the world isn’t ready for Finn yet.

  4. Alison says

    I love the name Finn and plan on using it for my third son due early next year. I will be using the Irish spelling of Fionn. I have never seen Glee and had no idea there was a character with this name and certainly never heard it on the Disney Channel. 😉 I was a Lit major and read Finnegans Wake in grad school. I also love Irish names (my middle son’s first and middle names are Gaelic). For those who think Finn is “weird” by itself, that is the original name. Just Fionn. No long name. There is a great Irish legend of Fionn, and it is a very popular name in Ireland. Great post – love your name website! :)

  5. Nicole says

    So we almost named our last child Finn in 2009 and the name is now back in the running for our 4th. I still love it, but hesitate with the growing popularity, the Glee reference (not to mention the hunger games’ Finnick–which oddly has grown on me too, but I don’t think I could go there!). We’ve considered Flynn, but it just doesn’t have the same charm as Finn and is more surname-y.

    • appellationmountain says

      I’m in love with Finnick, but I agree – I couldn’t use a name from a novel, not unless it had history beyond the story. Finnick is great, but for the moment, he’s all wrapped up in the character. And with movies #2 and #3 to follow, that’s an association that will only get stronger …

  6. Karren says

    Just wanted to respond to Finn and Edna above. We have names our son Finn. He is 2 and a half and we love the name. He is very fair and it suits him perfectly. I like it’s directness and I think it has a certain simple romance, but most of all I love the female Finn who posted above. I hope my Finn grows up to be as sensible, semsitive and positive as you:)

    • appellationmountain says

      “Simple romance” is a nice way to describe Finn – and while there’s much talk about the name’s use on Glee causing Finn to become too popular, I can’t help note that the singing Finn is a reasonably admirable character. It’s not like he’s a foul-mouthed axe murderer. You can imagine watching Glee and thinking “Finn, that’s a nice name.”

  7. Edna says

    STUPID NAME….really. Why is it popular? Because thirteen year old girls like the character FINN on the Disney channel, and anyone naming their kid FINN will be perceived as having the emotional maturity of a teen aged girl, spending their days glued to Disney programs. Way to ensure you and your kid are not taken seriously!

    I think of Huckleberry and FISH when I hear the name. I don’t think STRONG or SIMPLE, I think the racism of Mark Twain’s south and the smell of rotting fish.

    Also, I picture kids with the name being TORTURED by their peers. It’s a name that is ripe for teasing.

    I have a horrible name, I know from horrible names. Spare a kid the pain, and give the kid a NORMAL name. Save the stupid, self-indulgent ancestral names for the middle name, if you actually have to torture your child with such a stinker for a moniker….

    • appellationmountain says

      Whoa, Edna – you’re entitled to your opinion, but that’s a lot of emotion over four letters. i know some Finns, and none of them have tweenaged parents or inappropriate Disney fixations.

      Finn is fashionable, like it or not.

    • Finn says

      Kind of late to be posting this (with this entry being, what, over two years old?), but I wanted to give my, er, unique take. My name is Finn, and believe it or not, I’m a girl!

      In contrast to Edna’s view, I have to laugh a little at the irony (and while I may be a girl, rest assured, I hold no secret fixation with Disney). In my childhood, I only encountered a small handful of people who teased me for my name. Huck Finn, Finland, and after Finding Nemo was released, Lucky Fin; all of which were dropped after the first few times they called me it. However, I can’t say I was ever bullied over it. In fact, I made a lot of friends because of it! Haha.

      Another positive aspect is that it may have made me a confident person. My name never fails to put a grin on people’s faces when I say that, yes, my name is Finn. It makes it easy to break the ice. One negative aspect would be people seem to expect a boy over the phone, but I laugh and assure them it’s Finn speaking! As for being taken seriously, you decide. I’m working on becoming a pediatrician; my superiors don’t acknowledge anything odd about it and children love it. I rather like the idea of making a potentially sick child smile. :-)

      All that being said, do think carefully about what you name your child (obviously). But this was my personal experience, which I felt really needed to be shared after Edna’s (kind of harsh) insistence that the name was something that would scar or torture your child for the rest of their lives.

      There are cruel people in the world, and they will find anything to tease you about. Names are an easy way, it’s who you are. But whatever they think, it’s not their name but rather mine. I love it, and wouldn’t trade it for the world. :-)

      (a) Finn

    • appellationmountain says

      Really? Not Pip! Dickens purists everywhere must’ve reeled. I never did see the movie version.

  8. Juliet says

    Oh, I absolutely agree with what Tracy says! I think I must give ore thought to it as a name.I don’t consider it trendy. When I say trendy, I mean in accordance with the latest fad. I don’t think it’s use will be so prominent that it becomes trendy or a trend. I love Finley as have Blaine Finley on my list, so I think Finn is actually darling. It’s great as a nickname.Its growing on me as a full, first name

  9. Tracy says

    Our Finn (short for Finnegan, middle name Riley) is 14 this year. He is blond with blue eyes, and fits the Irish meaning of “fair of face”. If you name your son Finn here is what you have to look forward to: My son had a preschool teacher who encouraged the other children to sing the song, “here comes old man Michael Finnegan, he has whiskers on his chin again….” My son tolerated it as well as can be expected. He thought it was a dumb song. No one ever called him Huck Finn. Kids his age aren’t even familiar with the story. So the teasing didn’t amount to a hill of beans. The girls LOVE his name. He gets told that often. The fact that the name has recently been given to several handsome men in films and tv shows has not hurt either. We are very happy with the choice. Family sometimes call him by his birth name, Finnegan, but his peers have called him Finn since early grade school.

  10. emma says

    My son’s name is Finn.. He is only 10 days old. But so far I only get good comments about his name. We have a 3 syllabol surname, which sounds alot better than if he had a short surname…. He is so cute and suits the meaning of his name, which is, ‘fair haired and complexioned’..

  11. Allison says

    I love Finn, and I really like using Griffin to get to it. The other one I really like is Sullivan, I think it sounds so jaunty. I wonder, though, if “Sully” sounds a bit tarnished…

  12. !!!DirtyHippy!!! says

    I know a 4 month old baby Finn, short for Griffin. That seems to be the formal name of the moment to get to Finn. Younger brother to Hayden.

    I’m not too crazy about Finn. It’s a bit abrupt on its own and I’m not crazy about any of the formal names for it. I think it’s super-fast climb through the SSA shows that it’s a very *right now* sort of name and will probably sound dated in ten or twenty years time.

  13. Kim says

    Thanks for the encouragement, everyone. I only say that Finn might be too “cool” for us because the other names on our list are pretty traditional: Henry, Lewis, Matthew, James, Samuel, Simon, etc. But we’ll see. It does go well with our long surname.

  14. Lola says

    Aww, Kim, Finn is cool but you don’t have to be “cool” to use him! Really!

    I like Finn but would never use him myself, unless he’s a nickname, Fintan, Finbar & Phineas are all minor favorites of mine own. And I’ll second Another’s thought that Finn the fish is such because he’s got fins. I always thought it was cute. I hear Finn a lot in my neck of the woods, but checking SSA, he’s not in the top 100 for MA, so it’s just something common in my area, apparently.
    He’s undeniably cool, easy on the eyes and overall, handsome. What’s not to love? 😀

  15. appellationmountain says

    Corinne, you’re right! I’ve misspelled the name badly – Phinaeus is the original, and Phinnaeus is the variant chosen by J.R. Thanks for the catch – I’m correcting the post now. :)

    Kim, I don’t think you have to be Gwen Stefani to use this one! I’m hearing it more and more – I think it is now solidly current and fashionable, but not nearly as daring as, say, Zuma or Zephyr.

  16. Kim says

    I like Finn a lot. It’s on our short list if we have multiple sons. I’m just not sure we’re “cool” enough to pull it off. :)

  17. Corinne says

    I believe that Julia Roberts’ son’s name is spelled Phinnaeus. I remember because my daughter Vera knows a Phinaeus who was Finn before Julia Roberts’ had her twins, and Finn’s name is one ‘n’ less than Julia’s son’s.

    I like Finley/Finlay more than Phineas because I think that they’re a more direct way to Finn, which I ADORE!

  18. Another says

    The goldfish is Finn because he has fins, I think. 😉
    The name Finn is … okay … I don’t hate it, but it’s a bit trendy. I think it fits with Mason and Chase. It’s in that category. (I hat Mason and Chase, though.) On the other hand, I know a girl who just had a baby girl and named her Finley Ray. I must say I prefer that name (in entirety) for a boy! I think the best incarnation is Finn on its own. No Finley, no Phinneas, just Finn. Hey, like I’m fond of saying, “At least it’s not Jayden!”


Leave a Reply