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This post was originally published on June 26, 2009.  It was substantially revised and re-posted on December 29, 2014.

Don’t you love finding names rare with roots, ones that would work well in English today, and yet are almost completely unknown?

Gold stars to Photoqulity for suggesting Briallen as Baby Name of the Day.

Briallen: Welsh Innovation

We all know that American parents have been embracing novel noun names for their children for years.  Some have longer histories of use, but for every gentle Lily there’s a bold Indigo, for every storied Rose, there’s a nouveau Legend.

Speakers of other languages are equally interested in the trend.  French gives us Oceane.  In Spanish, there’s Luna and Cielo.  The Cornish Elowen is another innovation.

So is Briallen.

Briallen: Not in Hunger Games

Briallen comes from the Welsh word for primrose.

Briallu is the plural; the Briallen Fair is a variety.  While flower power appellations have been chosen by parents for generations, Briallen is a newcomer.

As a flower, the primrose isn’t a rose.  The flowering plants can be found from Norway to northern Africa, and Germany to Turkey.  Because they bloom early in springtime, they’re called the first rose – prime rose – even though they’re not actually related to roses.

Sweet Primrose is making waves at the moment, thanks to Hunger Games character Primrose Everdeen.  Little sister to Katniss, Prim becomes a heroine – and key figure – in her own right.

Of course, Primrose remains rare as a given name.  And Briallen is downright obscure.

Not only has Briallen never charted in the US Top 1000, the name is not present in the Census records.

Pronunciation is a bit of a challenge:  breh ALL ehn or breh AHL lehn is probably closest to the Welsh.  But stateside, it is almost certain that your child would find herself answering to bree AHL len or bree AL en.

For the moment, the most prominent uses of Briallen tend to be for romantic product names – a strappy sandal, a bridesmaid’s dress, a silky top by Theory.

Little wonder she’s yet to crack the US Top 1000.

Briallen: On-Trend Sound

And yet Briallen sounds like a name that would work in 2015, don’t you think?

Consider these favorites from recent years:

  • Brianna, Briana, and Breanna.
  • Gabriella, Gabrielle, and Gabriela, plus Brielle.
  • Aubrey and Aubree.

The bree sound is found in plenty of names, including smooshes of these names.  Aubrielle was  fast riser in 2013.

Briallen also fits right in with tailored surname name options like Madison.

Parents searching for a name that is just a little bit different could be charmed by Briallen.  Consider that this name hits three high spots: feminine but not at all fussy, taps into the craze for botanical names, both while remaining quite rare.

If there’s any downside to Briallen, it’s that you would doubtless have to pronounce, spell, and explain your child’s name – probably more than once.

But if you’re after a Welsh heritage choice, it doesn’t get much better.

And even if you’re not out to honor Welsh roots, Briallen is modern, tailored, and intriguing – qualities plenty of parents seek in a child’s name.

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. Interesting post, however I speak fluent Welsh and can confirm it is not pronounced bree-allen or anything close to that!

    I speak fluent Welsh and the double l (Ll) is a letter on it’s own in the alphabet. The sound doesn’t exist in English so it’s very hard to explain, which is why I would suggest non-Welsh speakers avoid any Welsh names with “ll” in it!

    This guide should help: https://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/livinginwales/sites/howdoisay/alphabet/

    It’s kind of said like a hissing sound a bit, somewhere between a h and an l. Hope that helps 🙂

    1. It does, Laura – thanks. But it also reinforces the idea that if you’re going to use Briallen in the US, you’ll need to accept that you can’t get the authentic pronunciation … at least not most of the time. That’s the constant challenge of importing names … and the fun part, too, to see how they change and transform.

  2. I really wanted to use Szczepan as a mn for our son, both to honor me, and my g-g-g-g-gpa [!] Szczepan, but my husband has a speech impediment and can’t say ‘szcz’! 🙁