Name of the Day: Doyle

Aidan has gone supernova. Connor is heard everywhere. What’s a parent in search of an authentic Irish appellation to do?

Thanks to Bek for suggesting one fresh option. Today’s Name of the Day is the dashing Doyle.

Doyle is indeed a surname, and he’s undeniably Irish. He roots are with the Gaelic Dubhghall. It translates roughly to dark stranger from dubh – black – and gall – stranger. What’s interesting is that the dark strangers were actually Scandinavians. Most histories suggest that Dubhghall would’ve been applied to the Danes, who were just a smidge less fair than the Norwegians – who were called the Fionnghall, or fair strangers.

Over the centuries, Dubhghall was reduced and Anglicized until it became Doyle – one of the most common surnames in Ireland today. It may also have become a popular substitute for many an unrelated name, including MacDowell.

Doyle has all the friendly openness of other Gaelic choices like Aidan and Ronan, but also a certain cerebral appeal thanks to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creative force behind รผber-sleuth Sherlock Holmes.

Plenty of other real life Doyles can be found, in nearly any field of endeavour. A sampling includes:

  • Clyde Doyle, a California politician in the 40s and 50s;
  • David Doyle, the actor who played Bosley on Charlie’s Angels;
  • Poet Kirby Doyle, a contemporary of Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac;
  • Actress Maria Doyle Kennedy, known as Katherine of Aragon on Showtime’s The Tudors.

There are also fictional Doyles galore, including:

  • Roz Doyle, Frasier’s producer;
  • Gene Hackman’s character in The French Connection, Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle;
  • There’s been a Maggie Doyle on ER and on the Australian police drama Blue Heelers;
  • Remember when Rick Schroder guest starred on 24? His character was Mike Doyle;
  • Another Doyle was Allen Francis Doyle, a part-demon character on Buffy-spinoff Angel.

Lest you think Doyle is only a surname, it is worth noting that Doyle was once regularly in use as a first name, charting as high as #195 back in 1931, and appearing every year between 1894 and 1981.

Overall, Doyle is undeniably appealing. He’s a surname choice that seems unlikely to be stolen by the girls. He’s as Irish as Aidan, but far more distinctive. And while he’s not often heard as a first name, he’d be instantly familiar to all.

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15 Comments

Doyle is memorable and really enjoyable!

I like one-syllable names on men, and this one is difficult to say without some sort of a smile. He feels much like Arlo to me.

Wow, I know this is an old post but I just found it. To me Doyle seems very southern and not Irish. Maybe because my mothers family is from Oklahoma and I have an Uncle Doyle, but I have heard quiet a few Doyles in the south, so to me it always sounded like old fashioned Southern, I would never in a million years thought it would be Irish. Its right up there for me with the fact I have an Uncle Jimmy and an Uncle James that are brothers, full brothers, so weird to me.

I like the sound, and do automatically think of the Angel character, but the story of the Irish actor [Glenn Quinn] who played him is just too sad for me to consider using it myself.

It’s funny that people don’t think of this as a first name. My dad’s best friend from high school onwards was named Doyle, so I grew up with an “Uncle Doyle.” It’s always seemed very first-namey to me.

It has also seemed rather out-of-date, probably due to the age of the uncle. But I can see how it would appeal — and it seems a lot more reasonable as a first name than Maguire or the O’ names that Nameberry suggests (like O’Brien).

The “oy” sound doesn’t feel incredibly current (think names like Lloyd, Floyd, Moira, Joyce), but that could be one good reason to revive it.

Thanks, Verity!

I have friends who were considering this (in honor of Sir Arthur, I believe – both English Lit majors and all that jazz). I have to admit it struck me as pretty odd and more as a surname nickname than a given name, but it’s sort of grown on me. It’s not on their list anymore, but now I wouldn’t be quite so taken aback by it.

And yes, doilies are on my mind too…

~waves~ hullo! My surname IS Doyle, and I gave it to my 2yo son as a middle name. I agree that it doesn’t sound much like a first name though.

Huh. Interesting. I didn’t expect Doyle to be embraced, but I’m surprised that he’s falling so very flat.

And Bevin, absolutely you can suggest names. (Whether or not I can keep track of them? That’s my drama!) But I am getting more and more suggestions, so I’m taking fewer, for fear of filling the calendar up through 2011. That said, Cormac will be July 30 and Donncha August 4. What cool names you all have!

SophieGray, I know what you mean. Years ago, I met a Maguire and was stunned to learn it was his given name. I’ve known lots of guys called by their last name – Murph for Murphy, for example. And I had a really hard time finding any actual Doyles, even though they’re clearly out there – more than I expected!

SPeaking of a Murphy, growing up I remember a girl who lived near my grandparents whose first name was Murphy-Jade. :S eh

Sorry, I am not a fan of this either. Its history is quite interesting, however, it is still just a surname to me and the possible nickname option of Doily is a bit too much for a little boy to handle.

Another in the “not so much” camp. As someone who has actually grown up in Ireland I wouldn’t call it an Irish name as such; definitely an Irish surname but not a first name.

Are we still allowed suggest names? My brothers are Donncha (dun – ah – kha) and Cormac (core – mac), both legit Irish names with great histories and not particularly common outside of Ireland. Cormac would definitely be the more popular of the two though.

Mm.. I agree, I’m not a fan of Doyle. I don’t really find him very masculine or flattering at all, and he’s much too surnamey for me. As a given name, to me he feels a bit like a surnamey nick name, like calling a guy ‘Jonno’ or ‘Mack’ because his last name is Johnson or Mackenzie, or maybe I’m just crazy? ๐Ÿ™‚

Of course, Angel’s sidekick was the first Doyle I thougt of. The thing that really gets me about this name is the sound. Something about the OY sound just tickles me – the name, as a first name, sounds silly rather than distinguished. Doily is another connection that just doesn’t cut it. Nope, this one definitely is not for me! (Also, between my fullblooded Ukranian background and my husban’s Swedish-Dutch-English, we have no Irish between us.)

If Doyle hung in my family tree, I’d use it. Especially in the middle, consumate nicknamer I am cannot find one decent nickname, which means it goes in the middle where it won’t get shortened.
But Doyle is snazzy and sprightly in both look & sound, I wouldn’t mind running into a few. I think Doyle’s kind of neat (and only thought doiliy as I was proofreading). So yeah, he gets a sold :thumbsup: from me!

I do have to ask, am I the only one that has a hard time saying Clyde Doyle? ๐Ÿ˜€