She’s as kelly green as a shamrock, but trends have left her behind.

Thanks to Colleen for suggesting her own appellation as Baby Name of the Day.

Once upon a time, the Murphys and the O’Haras and the Connellys celebrated their heritage by naming their boys Patrick or Brian or Michael and their girls Erin or Kelly or Colleen.

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. My mom’s middle name is Colleen (pronounced Co-leen) and I also have an aunt with it as her first name (pronounced Cal-een). I prefer it the way my mom says it. It sounds prettier to me now than it did when I was a kid. Now I’m looking forward to using someday.

  2. i might be biased because it is my name, but i LOVE Colleen. i am 27 years old and most of the Colleen’s that i know are also in their mid 20’s so it is weird to me that people are saying that it is dated.

  3. Colleen’s a total guilty pleasure for me, mostly because of Colleen Dewhurst.

    I think the -een names will come back in the next decade or so, besides the 100-year-rule, it’s a natural progression from the -line names to the -leen’s. Locally there was a birth announcement for an Abileen, but that may be a bit of ahead of the curve.

  4. I can’t say I’m too fond of Colleen (Kahl-LEEN in my world), but it is okay. I really like Irene (its growing on me) and I know a wee baby Eileen (she was named after her great-grandmother). I think Irene might be on it’s way back. I’m not sure about Eileen or Colleen, though.

  5. I’m not even sure I know how to pronounce this one, although it is a familiar name. It does sound dated to me – and not in a cool antique retro way. Probably means it will sound fresh again one day.

  6. It’s not for me. I’m not a fan of the -een ending in general. Plus it’s seriously lacking in nns (with the only nice one I can think of: Cleo, but it is a stretch and the most obvious shortened version, Collie, seems an insult more than a nn). No nns is a big drawback in my world. Finally, the pronunciation that many use kuh-LEEN (barely giving the first syllable any weight) is not very pretty in my ear… even the more even-emphasized call-EEN or caul-EEN are not that wonderful for me… I can respect it as a heritage choice, but for my tastes, I prefer countless other names that harken back to the emerald isle.

  7. Speaking of borrowing random words from a language to honour your heritage, I wonder if I can use Dziewczyna (girl) or Polska (Poland) to honour my Polish roots? My guess is that not unless I was a celebrity could I ever get away with using those as names. I wonder how the Irish-Americans got away with using names like Erin and Colleen? Is it because they were easy for non-Irish Americans to pronounce? I never understood why some Irish-American parents will not use traditional Irish names instead. Many of the Irish-Americans in my neck of the woods seemed to have favored place names or masculine surnames on females like Shannon, Kelly, Erin and now Riley. At least most Rileys I have been meeting seem to come from Irish background. This is more true with the 1970s-80s babies. In recent years, more traditional, and even the more difficult to pronounce choices, seem to becoming more common. Like Maeve, and there are a few Aislings in my one tiny enclave of a neighborhood, which I think is exciting to see. 🙂

  8. The name reminds me of the time I got the weirdest wrong number. Somebody from Texas called me, screaming on top of their lungs: COLLEEN!!! COLLEEN!! COLLEEN!! several times, only, they were pronounced it (kal-LEEN). Finally they said in a normal voice: “Is this Colleen?”

    I find the name to be a bit too country, despite its Irish roots and very dated. Plus, it still reminds me of the drunken person with the southern drawl who called me that night.

  9. Thanks for discussing my name! I absolutely love it and would hate to see it disappear forever. You don’t get more feminine than a name that means girl. There are lots of Irish songs about sweet colleens and when I visited Ireland, many were sung to me. : ) However, my name is misspelled constantly and the pronunciations vary. Despite this and the out of date vibe, I think we’ll see it rise in popularity again… someday.

    1. Colleen,
      I so agree with you. At least when you hear our name, you know it’s a girls name. No questions asked. And I also agree, that I think it will make a comeback, because the 60’s retro stuff is in the stores, so name will probably be used too.
      It’s always fun to talk to another Colleen. By the way, how do you pronounce yours. Mine’s with a long “O”.
      from Washington State.