If you love Riley and Finn, but want something less expected, here’s a contender.

Thanks to Stephanie for suggesting the kelly green Quinlan as Baby Name of the Day.

Finn has Finley and Fintan and Finnigan, too. Parents seeking a longer option for Quinn can choose from Quincy and maybe Quinton. But Quinlan seems like one of the more appealing options.

And yet he’s never caught on. As of 2009, Quinlan had never appeared in the US Top 1000. Nancy lists just 82 Quinlans, plus boys named Quinnlan, Quinlin, and Quinlen last year.

Maybe that’s partially because Quinn feels complete on his own. He’s charted in the US Top 1000 every year since 1960 and ranked #258 last year – his best ever. Quinn also came in at #486 for girls, possibly lifted by fictional characters from Glee’s cheerleader-turned-teenage-mom Quinn to 90s animated MTV series Daria’s perky sis Quinn, also a cheerleader.

Quinlan’s meaning would work for a girl as well as a boy. It’s from the Gaelic Caoindealbhán or Caoinlean, emphasis on lean – the meaning is often given as slender, but also sometimes fair or attractive. Connor, Connell and a slew of Con- and Quin- names have different roots, but, of course, it is always possible that the lines blurred over the centuries.

There’s no shortage of notable Quinlans, but most wear it as a surname. You will find:

  • Ben Stiller and Christine Taylor gave the name to their son, Quinlin Dempsey. If you’ve seen the last scene of 2001’s Zoolander, you’ve caught his silver screen debut;
  • Quinlan Terry is a British architect. He renovated 10 Downing Street in the 1980s;
  • A minor character in the Star Wars comic book series is Jedi knight Quinlan Vos.

    As a surname, famous Quinlans are plentiful:

    • James Quinlan won the Medal of Honor as a Union officer during the Civil War;
    • Irish-born Bishop John Quinlan was a key figure in Roman Catholic Mobile, Alabama during and after the Civil War;
    • Thomas Quinlan founded the Quinlan Opera Company in 1910s England, taking his company on a tour of Australia, New Zeland, Canada and South Africa before going broke in the World War I era;
    • Sportscaster Jack Quinlan covered the Chicago Cubs in the 1960s;
    • TV’s Scrubs included the perpetual frat boy Dr. Todd Quinlan;
    • Robb Quinlan plays for the LA Angels. His brother Tom also played for the MLB;
    • Actress Maeve Quinlan can currently be seen on 90210 as mom to Adrianna;
    • Actress Kathleen Quinlan was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in Apollo 13.

    On a tragic note, Karen Ann Quinlan’s case was a lightning rod in the Right to Die debate. Could it be that her story leaves a lingering hint of sorrow around this otherwise upbeat Irish surname?

    Should you find Quinlan on your family tree, it is definitely one to consider embracing for a child. Or if you love Quinn but find it just a bit too brief, Quinlan seems like a great formal option.

    The only parents who might be disappointed are those hoping for an exclusively masculine moniker. Quinlan seems just as likely to be given to a girl circa 2010!

    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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    1. Quinlan is definitely masculine sounding to me. I don’t mind it, but its not for me. I could definitely see this getting trendy.