Eirlys: Baby Name of the DayIt’s a seasonal rarity by way of Wales.

Thanks to Hettie for suggesting Eirlys as our Baby Name of the Day.

Eirlys: From Wales

Novel nature names are big in the US – think Willow, River, and Sage. But it’s not just American parents embracing the trend. Think of the Cornish Elowen and the Welsh Aderyn.

Eirlys is another import from Wales. Like many languages once threatened with extinction, efforts have been made to revitalize Welsh. It is now acknowledged as an official language in Wales and widely taught in schools.

No surprise then, that Welsh given names like Osian, Cai, Gethin, Macsen, and Ieuan are popular for boys, along with Seren, Ffion, Cadi, Elin, Cerys, Lowri, and Eleri for girls.

Eirlys: Sounds like …

In Welsh, Eirlys has a pretty, appealing sound. But in English, I’m afraid it sounds an awful lot like airless. Or maybe “err less,” a command to improve one’s accuracy? Though Nook of Names adds an extra syllable – AY er lis.

It’s a little awkward for a native English speaker, but I don’t think it’s actually an unwearable choice.

Eirlys: Winter Nature Name

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Bold botanical names for girls are having a moment, and it’s easy to imagine Eirlys fitting in with daring choices like Edelweiss and Tigerlily.

It’s more commonly called the galanthus – milk flower – or snowdrop. It gets the second name because it flowers in the late winter, usually before the spring equinox. This flowers are considered a sign that spring is near, and so are considered a symbol of hope.

They’re also associated with Candlemas, celebrated on February 2nd. In Christian churches, it’s considered the day that Jesus was presented at the Temple, forty days after his birth, as was customary for Jewish families at the time. But it’s also the midpoint between the winter and spring equinoxes, the middle of winter, and some believed that the weather on Candlemas Day predicted the weather for the rest of the season. Fast-forward to the United States many years later, and we now call February 2nd Groundhog Day.

Eirlys: As a Name?

Eirlys: Baby Name of the DayBut is Eirlys ever used as a given name? I found an actress named Eirlys Hywel, who was active by 1982, and another by the name, who followed a few years later.

In the US, it’s virtually unknown. It’s never been given to even five girls in a single year. There are women by the name in US Census records, but it looks like they were all born in Wales, probably after 1900.

Eirlys: Fairytale

There’s a fairytale about a young girl sent out into a freezing, snowy night by a wicked stepmother. She can’t return without something green and growing. In some tellings, it’s fruit. But in the Russian version, it’s most often snowdrops. Because the girl is good and kind, she accomplishes the impossible feat.

There’s also a Hans Christian Anderson story that explains the flower’s origins.

All of this makes Eirlys an appealing rarity. It’s just right for a fairytale princess, but on the right side of wearable for a real girl, too. It could also be a gorgeous name for a daughter born in winter.

What do you think of Eirlys? Would you consider this name for a daughter?

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. Our beautiful American born granddaughter is Eirlys, named after her lovely Welsh Nain….
    Yes, it is more difficult to pronounce in English for some, but it is a fitting name for our incredibly special granddaughter.
    To make her life a bit easier in America, she goes by the nickname, “Lyssy”…
    But she is officially Eirlys, our Snowdrop, who was born during a huge snowstorm fourteen years ago!!!

  2. Eirlys is pronouned AY-uh-liss in most Welsh dialects (the Eir is pronounced rather like ‘layer’ without the l). But in South Wales where my granddad came from, it would be EYE-uh-liss (with ther Eir like tire).

    1. Thanks, Elea! I’m not sure if most Americans would be willing to drop the ‘r’ – but it’s definitely far prettier without it.

  3. There’s a character in Jenny Nimo’s children’s book The Snow Spider named Eirlys. On the cassette version of my childhood, it sounded like Air-eh-lees, which I liked, though I don’t know if that was based on anything more than the reader’s guess.

  4. I’m so excited for this write-up, Abby! My mother’s family is very recently Welsh (having emigrated to Canada in the 1900’s) and I love this particular Welsh name. Snowdrops are my favorite flower, but Snowdrop as a name is admittedly a bit much. My greatest hang up with Eirlys is the pronunciation! Airless and “hairless” are nonstarters for my husband, though I’m inclined to think that it would make a striking middle where pronunciation and spelling would be less of a day-to-day issue. One can dream! Thank you for featuring one of my favourites 🙂

  5. I think Eirlys is lovely! I pronounce it AY-er-lis, which sounds gentler and and sweeter than AIR-les. To me, it sounds like something Tolkien might have used for a character, and I like that feel to it.