Today’s choice is a long standing favorite here at ApMtn, but it’s quite rare out in the world.

Our Name of the Day is the Welsh Caradoc.

The first Caradoc may have been a real person, a combination of several real people or perhaps just a legendary invention.

What we know for certain is this: during the first century, the Romans were building their empire. Claudius invaded Britain in 43. The King of the Catuvellauni was not pleased, and summoned his armies to oppose the invaders. The Romans record his name as Caratacus. He was ultimately defeated and shipped off to Rome in chains.

History tells us that the Romans admired Caratacus’ grit and allowed him to live out his days in peace. It also suggests that Caratacus’ name in his language was probably Caradoc.

The link between Caratacus and Caradoc is also found on the map. In Shropshire, Caer Caradoc Hill is said to be the location of the king’s last stand. Remains of an ancient fort were found at the summit, and it matches the description given in written records.

He’s not the last bearer of the name. Historians believe that the Welsh Kingdom of Gwent was founded by Caradoc ap Ynyr in the sixth century. Gwent, of course, is also the land ruled by Athrwys ap Meurig, considered a possible source for the King Arthur figure.

Arthurian legend is Caradoc’s real home, and the stories contain more than one Caradoc. The best known tale is of a father and son duo. Caradoc the Elder initially opposed Arthur’s rule, but later became of the king’s staunchest allies. An evil sorcerer seduced Caradoc’s wife. Years later, the sorcerer revealed his treachery – including the fact that Caradoc the Younger was really his son. The bad guy’s plan backfired, and the two Caradocs teamed up to defeat him.

Like the feminine Carys, the name is linked to the Welsh cariadus – beloved. Caradawg is probably closest to the original, while Caradoc is the Anglicized version. Emphasis is on the first syllable – KAH rah dok.

While he’s never ranked in the Top 1000, census records tell us that there were some nineteenth and early twentieth century Caradocs in the US.

Our initial reaction is that Caradoc would be eye-poppingly strange on a boy circa 2009. Plus the obvious nickname – Cary – is widely considered feminine.

And yet, we can see Caradoc working, especially if you’re determined to find something with history, without overtly religious overtones and truly rare. While Cary strikes many as a girls’ name, there’s also debonair Cary Grant and The Princess Bride’s Cary Elwes. With Cody and Colby big for boys in recent years, Cary seems like less of a stretch than it might have in the 1980s.

Factor in Tristan’s popularity, and we wonder if more legendary hero names might make a comeback. Caradoc’s a longshot, but we like him anyway.

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. Caradoc is a great name! I’m of Celtic ancestry, so there’s that. But I also love how rugged and kilty it sounds and how it both starts and ends with a C. I’ve known guys named Cary and men called Doc, so those nicknames work for me OK. I do prefer Care-a doc to Car-a doc though, not fond of the car sound.

  2. Wouldn’t the manx Cadoc work for a short everyday use? While your still able to have the formal Caradoc on the birth certificate. I think Cade would be another modern and accessible short option as well.

    1. Cadoc is Breton not Manx, my apologise and derives from the Brythonic cad “battle.” Kado is the modern form. So, in theory, Kado with a C could work. Much like the Kardashian effect in reverse. Here, in the States, we would be less judgemental with a C version of Kado, simply because people on a majority would be clueless about its original origens. 🙂 Plus, if Kai is so popular on boys, Kado/Cado on short form basis ought to fit in just fine.

  3. Caradoc’s for the adventurous parent. I like Welsh names, and names with the “Car” sound in them but I can’t imagine calling someone this. Cary as a nickname’s too feminine-sounding for me, even spelled that way. – despite Cary Grant.

  4. Opps, I didn’t mean to post that quite so quickly. Thanks in advance for any suggestions you might have…

  5. Wow Caradoc! You couldn’t very well be a shrinking violet with a name like that could you?! I rather like his Medieval, Welsh, legendary feel but he’s too much for me on a day to day basis. On a pet though – genius!

    Actually while we’re on the subject, we’re thinking about getting a puppy (female) sometime soon and I would appreciate some name suggestions? Nothing to ‘done’ like Poppy but nothing to out there either (my other half has to be able to shout the name without being embarrassed)…

  6. I love Welsh names (my last name is Welsh, so I like that the names always seem to “go” quite nicely)… And I lobbied for Cerys (another spelling for the female version, Carys, mentioned above) for our first. I couldn’t get my husband to go for it, partly because there is a famous Cerys, lead singer of a band Catatonia, which is not big in the US, but well known in the UK. In any case, he said no to Cerys, but I really do like it.

    However, Caradoc? Not so much. The first image in my head was Bugs Bunny. It seemed like an amalgamation of “What’s up doc” and “carrot” and that’s what I got: Bugs. Cary on the other hand is a great nickname – both with old hollywood and Elwes in mind (love Princess Bride)… sigh, Caradoc is not the way to get to Cary for me, though… but it is very different and more power to the parent who is adventurous enough to go for it.

  7. I mentioned Caradoc to the other half (who’s home today, for a change) and he was all ears up “ooh!”. *sigh* Says “Cary’s cool and hey, he could go by Doc is he plays B-ball!” *huge sigh* I have a monster.

    I will admit Caradoc is cool and I do like Cary. (Elwes will always be my first “movie star” crush). But if I was going to use him, he’d go in the middle, He’s a bit blendy with my Mac- surname. He’d be an awesomely unusual choice for anyone else, though. Very awesome!

    1. LOL, Lola – I mentioned it to my husband and he said, “No way!” Then I mentioned Cary and he though Cary was great.

      I’m 1/4 Welsh, so I always insist that we could use some of the wackier Welsh names without apology. And with a husband called Arthur, well, I think any Arthurian name ought to be fair game.

      Maybe for a pet …

      1. If you like Welsh names please note that the stress in Welsh is completely regular – ALWAYS on the second last syllable. Some examples: ca-RA-dog, ma-RED-ith, ree-AN-non, CA-ris, a-ree-AN-wen, pe-RE-deer (Caradog, Maredudd, Rhiannon, Carys, Arianwen, Peredur). E is short as in ‘bed’, a as in ‘cat’ – CA-ris, not CAR-is or CARE-is. I is an ee sound – EE-van, not EYE-van (Ifan).