Flynn: Baby Name of the Day

This image shows a photograph of Errol Flynn, ...Editor’s note: This post was originally published on September 29, 2009.  It was substantially revised and re-posted on November 11, 2013.

With Finn racing up the charts, can this equally Irish appellation be far behind?

Thanks to Corinne for suggesting our Name of the Day: Flynn.

Determining the exact popularity of Finn is tricky. There’s Finn (#291 in 2012, or about 1200 newborns).  But there’s also Finnegan (#491), the Kennedy-esque Finbar, Finley (#547 for boys plus twice as popular for girls) and the sort-of-kind-of-could-lead-to-Finn choice, Griffin (at #220, the most popular of the bunch). Throw in starbaby Phinnaeus and re-spellings like Finnaeus, and if you haven’t met one yet, you soon will.

On the other hand, determining Flynn’s popularity is simple. He first appeared in the US Top 1000 in 2011, and was given to 338 boys in 2012 – making him #692, as popular as Branson or Hayes.

Both choices are Irish. Flynn is linked to the surname Ó Flainn or Ó Floinn, traditionally bestowed on descendants of Flann Sinna – a ninth century High King of Ireland.

You might still find a Flann or three in Ireland. Flann O’Brien was the penname of a popular 20th century writer. His contemporary, Flann O’Riain, drew political cartoons and advanced the use of the Irish language. In the US, you might meet a Flannery, but Flann is probably too close to dessert for an American parent to consider.

Flann, Flannery and Flynn are all attributed to an Irish Gaelic word meaning red or ruddy, making them fitting choices for a little redheaded baby. And while Flannery leans feminine, thanks to novelist Flannery O’Connor, Flynn feels brisk and masculine.

It’s a fairly common surname, worn by:

  • Actor Neil Flynn played the janitor on Scrubs. He was also Lindsay Lohan’s anthropologist dad in Mean Girls.
  • The cast of long-running British police drama The Bill included actor Daniel Flynn as Superintendent John Heaton for three seasons.
  • In the 1960s, Joe Flynn played Captain Binghamton on McHale’s Navy. He’s the one who would shout: What is it, What, WHAT, WHAT?
  • In the 1930s, Edward Flynn was an American boxer – he scored an Olympic gold medal. At about the same time, Eddie Flynn was an Irish soccer star.
  • Researcher James R. Flynn identified the Flynn Effect – the tendency of IQ scores to rise over time.
  • Music gives us Robb Flynn, the guitarist for Machine Head.
  • Vince Flynn pens thrillers, and has served as a story consultant to 24.
  • It’s the family’s name in Disney’s animated Phineas and Ferb.

And then there’s Errol Flynn. Born in Tasmania, the son of an academic, Flynn became one of Hollywood’s brightest stars in the 1930s. He headlined swashbuckling adventures like The Adventures of Robin Hood. Flynn’s characters always got the girl.

No wonder Flynn sounds active and exciting.  More so than Flynn’s given name, which is most familiar as a Harry Potter owl nowadays.

The name’s boost into the Top 1000 might have been Disney’s 2010 reboot of the Rapunzel story, Tangled.  The movie includes Flynn Rider, an unlikely hero who renamed himself.

Or chalk it up to the 2011 arrival of Flynn Bloom, son of Miranda Kerr and Orlando Bloom.

If there’s any drawback to Flynn, it is possible confusion with the more popular Finn.

But if you’re looking for a name that is short but complete, and not at the heights of popularity, the handsome Flynn is an appealing possibility.


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  1. Lyndsay says

    I named my son Flynn in July 2012 and we’ve had nothing but compliments. Everyone loved it right away and whenever we introduce him to someone they instantly say something like, “Wow, what a great name!”. If you’re considering this name, I highly recommend it! It’s very fun if you’re a nicknamey person, we call him Flynn, Fynnie, Flynnie Binny, Flynnsky, Flynnster, Flynnster MaGynster, etc. The only negative is that a few times people have thought I said Flynn, but not nearly as often as you might think. I love that it’s simple and clean, uncommon, but not weird. It fits my happy little guy to a T, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it grows with him.

  2. Jessica N. S. says

    We are thinking of the name Flynn if this baby is a boy. What I’ve found so far is that it means “son of a ruddy complected man” and similar meanings. My husband is a redhead and has fair skin so I think it would work, lol. Also, my husband is fond of this name because of the Disney movie Tron, where the main character is Kevin Flynn.

    A friend of mine told me she did not like it because it reminded her of phlegm.

  3. Charlotte Vera says

    Interesting post! However, I don’t really see Flynn working very well here in Western Canada — there’s a city on the border of Saskatchewan and Manitoba called Flin Flon (incidentally, named for the lead character, Josiah Flintabbatey Flonatin, in the science fiction novel The Sunless City).

    • appellationmountain says

      Now that is a fabulous factoid, Charlotte! Josiah Flintabbatey Flonatin … I’d love to see the official minutes where the powers that be adopted Flin Flon as a city name!

      • says

        Haha, yes, that would be interesting! I think that the city sort of grew into the name, since it [I think] started off as a mine found by some guy who liked the book. It had to have been officially adopted at some point.

  4. says

    Flynn sits around #66 here in NZ. Slightly less popular than Finn which is #55. Doesn’t mean terribly much for a country our size. I’m surprised it’s never once ranked in the US 1000.

    I knew the most hyper, cheeky and flighty Flynn a few years ago while tutoring. He’d be about 10 or 11 now.

    It’s adequate. Nice enough. Rather how I feel about Finn. I love the Manx Finlo though.

  5. Corinne says

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! This is one of my favorite boys’ names and I’m only just becoming brave enough to try it in the first name slot.

    I just love it’s familiarity, yet unusual-ness. Flynn Flynn Flynn.

  6. shay120 says

    I’ve never cared for this, it reminds me of phlegm and lint, I much prefer Finn. I know a girl named Flannery, she was named for Flannery O’Connor. I used to not like it but now it has really grown on me because I like the person I know with it. I also love Flannery O’Connor’s work, so that its a plus. Flann does sound too much like the dessert.


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