The baby name Angus combines Celtic roots with modern bravado.
Thanks to Nessa and Emmeline for suggesting our Baby Name of the Day.
The Irish god of love and youth, Angus is sometimes referred to as the Celtic Cupid.
But this god was more man than cherub, free of wings or arrows.
He was the son of the Dagda, a powerful father-figure king in Irish myth, and Boand, a goddess associated with rivers.
Depending on the source, Aengus is associated with youth, music, poetry and yes, love.
He was also said to be quite handsome – something of a mash-up between Cupid and Apollo.
AENGHUS and AONGHUS
The Irish god’s name is often spelled Aengus. Óenghus, Aenghus and Aonghus all appear in the historical record, too.
A handful of ancient – and, in some cases, probably legendary – kings answered to the name. So did the ninth century Saint Angus the Culdee. He tried to live as a hermit, but when the faithful kept seeking him out, he retired to a monastery where he co-wrote one of the earliest accounts of the Irish martyrs.
The baby name Angus remains in use across the centuries, given to children generation after generation.
There’s a minor character by the name in Shakespeare’s MacBeth.
With all those famous men answering to Angus, it’s no surprise that we find the name on the map.
The cattle associated with County Angus is now known as Angus cattle, and so you can probably find certified Angus beef in your grocery store.
Despite the association, we continue to recognize the baby name Angus as a long-standing choice for a child.
THE ONE STRENGTH
So what does this name mean?
Scholars disagree, but most sources list it as “one strength.”
As meanings go, it’s pretty appealing.
GETTING TO GUS
One of the reasons the baby name Angus seems so appealing today? It’s not just the history or the meaning.
It’s the sound.
The baby name Angus shortens naturally to Gus, putting it in the company of favorites like August.
MACGYVER and YOUNG
Pop culture has been kind to the baby name Angus in recent years.
AC/DC guitarist and co-founder Angus Young is known for his schoolboy uniform. But the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer is equally famous for his legendary performances. He lends the baby name Angus some serious edge.
Angus MacGyver has solved problems under pressure across the decades. The original MacGyver ran seven seasons, beginning in 1985. A reboot launched in 2016 and ended in 2021. While he’s often called Mac on the show, his first name matches his Scottish surname nicely.
There’s also child actor Angus T. Jones, of Two and a Half Men fame; BBC television presenter Angus Purden; and a handful of other uses.
Two young adult-oriented movies gave the name to characters.
1995’s Angus was a classic underdog story. It’s notable mostly because James Van Der Beek made his big screen debut as the bully who ends badly.
In 2008 teen rom com Angus, Thongs, and Perfect Snogging, Angus is the cat’s name.
All of that sums up the baby name Angus nicely – it’s a little edgy and adventurous, but still quirky and surprising. No one expects to meet a baby boy called Angus.
BY the NUMBERS
Well, at least not in the US.
Until the middle of the twentieth century, the baby name Angus appeared on the fringes of the US Top 1000. But it left after 1948, and remains rare. Just 69 boys received the name in the year 2020 – not exactly zero, but very uncommon.
Elsewhere in the English-speaking world, the story is different. The baby name Angus ranks in the Scottish Top 100. It’s familiar elsewhere in the UK. And Australia and New Zealand seem to boast more Anguses than North America.
That makes the baby name Angus a Celtic cool possibility that’s just a little offbeat, too. It’s traditional and unexpected, easy to spell and pronounce without being even a little bit common.
That’s a winning combination!
What do you think of the baby name Angus?
Originally published on February 14, 2009, this post was revised substantially and re-posted on October 23, 2021.
Troy G Dalton says
Sure no one will read this but I have twin 13 yr. old boys. Their names are Malcolm and of course Angus. Yes after the band AC/DC. We’re not groupies r weirdo parents we just like rock music and with AC/DC being one of our favorites we was trying to think of names and I think their mother mentioned Malcolm and Angus and it just had a great ring and flow to the 2 names so instead of naming them mustard and ketchup, which is what their 6 yr, old at the time, brother wanted to call them, we went with Malcolm and Angus. Side note. They r seriously the 2 best kids any parent could ever ask for. Literally top of their class 1 and 2 since 1st grade and Malcolm is musically talented and Angus is athletically talented. Never had a sec of trouble out of either one. Polite to everyone and respectful to everyone. They’ll give u shirt of their back, play u a song and teach u how to shot a basketball all while solving a math problem lol. Seriously we’re very lucky.
I had a Scottish roommate my freshman year of college. We discussed classic Scottish names, and I recall liking Angus then. It fell out of the back of my mind, until one day I was surfing Nameberry. I shared it with my DH. He was wild about it, and it’s now the name of our son! I had my doubts during the pregnancy, but he insisted. And I am so very glad he did.
My husband is Angus. He is exactly the way you imagine someone whose name means “one choice” would be – strong, stubborn, charming, influential. There is no other name in this world that I can imagine suiting him more. His whole life, he has been extremely confident, and so has never had any problem with bullying, or with people snickering at his name (chances are he’d find something to tease you about in response before you’d even finished your sentence). He loves his name so much, that he’s even trying to convince me to name our son Angus, and though I’m not sure I want a Junior, it does make me smile to think of having a little Angus running around.
David Watson says
Okay, quick update, Angus is now 10, and my son still loves the name, his coaches and teachers always remember it and He never gets teased about it except in a good natured “Hey Beef” type of way. Parents now a days name their kids all kinds of wierd names and I’m pretty sure the name teasing is a product of a by gone era because I rarely here of it and I stay pretty close to the ground in my son’s life. All in All I am so happy I named my son Angus and very happy he wears the name proudly and confidently.
Angus Alexander Watson, you rock my son.
I don’t know why, but I can’t speak this name without saying it in a loud, obnoxious Scottish brogue! I do think it’s a handsome name, even though I couldn’t use it, because I’d always think of cows and AC/DC.
Okay Susan, chill out. We named our son Angus, my Dad and Grandfather also had the name. They were both called Sandy throughout their lives, never really got that but its a Scottish thing. Our son is now 8 and loves the name. We’ve never had any problem with teasing, occasionally he gets called Beef, but he doen’t seem to mind, and he is a big kid anyway. Nobody snickers when they hear the name, and he gets lots of compliments on his strong Galic name. Also, everyone who hears it remembers his name so he is always the teachers, coaches etc. remember it right off. I imagine this will come in handy later in live. Child abuse, come on now, maybe a little over the top.
It is so nice to hear of a real Angus! Great choice!
Really? I think Angus would wear well. I know a pint-sized Seamus, and more than one little Gus. I suppose it depends on where you live, but here, Angus would fit right in.
Living in Texas, there is no way I could name a child Angus. Where’s the beef?
I really can’t edit very well, can i?! I meant ‘Hudson Kai’, in the top 100 for Victoria in 2008 – not 200! 🙂
I’ve had a seriously long love for Angus – before it’s uber popularity boost in Australia (where I’ve lived most of my life) – and it’s a boys name my DH and I instantly agreed on!
Like Emmy Jo, ‘Gus’ only bings to mind the little mouse from Cinderella (partly due to Matilda’s current infatuation with the film!), but that doesn’t really deter me. I don’t mind if my kids dont have mn, and Angus is just too endearing to give up!
I only wish my brother and his wife hadn’t beaten us to the punch first! However, i must say that I am proud I have a nephew named Angus Philipe, over something like Hudspn Kai (which were both in the top 100 – #100 and #92 – for my state in 2008)
This is probably my favorite boys’ name in the whole world, mainly for the Gus potential, I’ll admit. I did live in Scotland for 6 years, where my mother in law is from and my husband was born, so I feel like I have some legitimate claim to it. Unfortunately, after three pregnancies of campaigning hard, hubby still doesn’t see the appeal, and I don’t think our little one due in a couple weeks will end up a Gus if he’s a boy. Sigh… I hope someone else gets to use it!
Angus has lots of upright, Scottish character doesn’t he? I’m a big fan, the only negative for me, and this is completely personal, but he feels a bit ANG-ular!
Emmy Jo says
Agnes, Ansel, and now Angus…now those would be a confusing sibset!
Angus is cool. I’m not one that gets into “Gus”, however. To me, he’s the intellectually challenged mouse in Disney’s Cinderella. I just don’t see his appeal.
I really love Angus. He’s a little quirky, but not too quirky, you know? I love the sound, and I can’t imagine an Angus being anything but awesome. There are two reasons we decided against him. One, we’re vegetarian, so, it seems a little weird to name our son something people associate with beef. Two, I realized what happened if you take the g out of Angus, and I worry about the teasing that could cause… normally I don’t worry about that, but I think that could be worse than the teasing with most names, I don’t know. Also, I think I just love August more, and you can’t use both! Well, I do still love Angus, and I think it might make a better first name than August… but, well, I guess it’s mainly the Anus thing, I really worry about that.
Angus is my grandfather, he is known as Gus. We are Scottish.
I dismissed this name for a while due to it being my grandfathers name but now I am thinking it would be great to use in the middle.
Christina Fonseca says
Happy Valentine’s Day!
I admit – Angus cattle is the first thing I think of, probably because I’m from a rural area. Although I know of men named Angus in my area, I have yet to meet one. I’m sure if I saw one on a regular basis, say the grandchild of one of my friends, or the child of a coworker, I would start thinking of Angus as a person.
I have nothing against it – in fact, I’m kind of hoping somebody around me names a little one Angus so I can get over my steak and bull association. 🙂
I really dig Angus, I can almost hear the brogue when I say him! 😀 I find just about any way to get Gus pretty entrancing, Angus is one of the best. But August & his variants, Fergus, Gustav, even Constantin, where Gus is an alternate nickname. Yeah, Angus is way appealing! Warm, strong, handsome and charming. I’ve been thinking about August/Gus for Mom, but maybe Angus would work too. I know my Brother, the AC/DC fan would approve! Either way, I’d bet that I’ll be hearing Angus more & more when I end up in Boston and I can hope he’ll spread, he’s got character, loads of character and I’d love to see more of him!