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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. Panya, I’ve never heard Szczepana before! Though Szczepan came up when we were naming our son, as a possible middle. Two barriers: while I understand how to say “szcz,” I struggle to pronounce it. I think it is the kind of sound that you have to master young. And his first name had to be Alex. And our last name starts with S. So we couldn’t use a middle name that starts with S. But I have an uncle Stephen I would’ve loved to have honored.

    Anyway, Bettany is neat!

  2. I was going to use Briallen as a middle name for my daughter to honor my brother and mother. His name is Bret Alan and one of her very favorite names is Brianne (bree-ANN) [Emilie Brianne being her chosen combo for another daughter]. But my brother named his daughter Breeana (bree-AH-nah). That’s too close for me, so I had to choose Bettany to replace it, as a combination of Bret and my given name of Stephanie (Panya is the name I go by, from Szczepana, maybe you could feature those names 🙂 ).

  3. Gut reaction: I don’t like it at all.

    Had I not read this, I would have ignorantly assumed it was an amalgam of mommy and daddy’s names, something like Brielle and Allen. I’d be interested to get a Welsh perspective.

  4. This one’s not for me I’m afraid. She’s very interesting indeed, but all I see in the word is ‘Braille’ and I don’t find her very feminine really. 🙁

  5. Interesting, Briallen is. I think she’d be mangled here in the States. I also think I’d like her if I lived in Wales. 🙂 I know a Brian whose wife is pregnant, maybe I should toss this one at them, for a girl. It definitely has the hallmarks of a fast riser,
    Yeah, Briallen could go places. Not on my kid, but I wouldn’t mind it on someone else’s. 🙂

  6. Hmmm… I read it as “bree-allen” kind of like ethan-allen Welshified. It’s not my kind of name. Funny thing for me with the Welsh names; I tend not to like the ones that are gwen/wen/bree based names…. and that does seem to be many of them, I’ll admit. Adding the name Allen to the end of one of those roots doesn’t really excite me (I’m not a fan of Allen, regardless of its spelling). It’s clear it has the makings to be a popular name and I respect it for at least not being made up, but it’s really not for me.

  7. I like the name, but think it would fall into the related-to-made-up-name-Brielle category. I wouldn’t want to use a name that sounds made up, however legitimate it might be. That said, I like the sound of it…and of course would never use it. 😉