Name of the Day: Ewan

Odds are you know a handful of men named John. Ditto Evan and Ian. We even know a pair of brothers called Sean and Jack. But how about this Scottish variant?

Thanks to Katharine for suggesting our Name of the Day: Ewan.

While Ewan is often considered a Scottish version of John, there is actually a second attribution for the name. Ewan may have evolved from the Gaelic Eoghan, pronounced yo en. There are two possible sources. It could mean yew tree, or it could come from ĂȘoghunn – youth.

If you’re counting, that’s three separate derivations. Just to confuse things further, Eoghan is sometimes Anglicized as Eugene. And there are alternate spellings for Ewan, including Euan and Ewen.

Putting all that aside, Ewan first grabbed our attention on the big screen, thanks to the charming Scottish actor Ewan MacGregor. His big break was 1996’s cult favorite Trainspotting. Sci fi fans know him as Obi-Wan in the Star Wars franchise, and he won much praise for bursting into song as the love struck Christian in Moulin Rouge.

There’s also actor Ewen Bremner, also known for his turn in Trainspotting. (He played Spud.) Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair called his son Euan. Some might remember folk singer Ewan MacColl. The name isn’t common throughout history, but it’s easy to find, especially during the 20th century and into recent times.

While we occassionally hear OO an, the proper pronunication is YOO an. It’s one of those choices vulnerable to regional accents. We suspect that this one sounds better with, say, a Scottish or Australian accent than a Texas or Wisconsin one.

Through 2006, Ewan was among the Top 100 names in the UK. Given the variant spellings, this suggests that there are a lot of pint-sized Ewans toddling around London right about now.

While he’s never cracked the Top 1000 in the US, it’s worth noting that variants of John – including Jonathan, Jackson, Jack, Juan, Evan, Owen and Ian – were given to more than 90,000 boys in 2007 alone. This doesn’t make Ewan any less distinctive, but he does share roots with what has, in many ways, continued to be the most dominant male name in modern history.

In the UK, we suspect that Ewan remains appealing – not so common as Jack or Oliver, but still familiar. In the US, it’s a bit more of a gamble. While Ewan fits with other Gaelic charmers like Aiden and Ryan, the pronunciation challenges could be a problem, especially in some parts of the country. But with Mr. MacGregor’s career in full swing, parents should be able to point to the actor as a reference.

And hey, if you’re really Star Wars fans, you can always name his brother Luke.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

15 Comments

Maybe it’s that I grew up in America the child of Scottish parents, but Euan is one of my favorite Gaelic names, along with Calum/ Callum that rings with the old world while still being fresh and exciting in the new.

I haven’t met a Ewan either. I like it.. I do actually like many Gaelic names for boys despite the trendiness. I really like Aidan..but probably would not use…I liked it when it was obscure, but now it’s part of a rhyming group of names as you know. Jaden, Kaden, Brayden etc. And used for girls… and spelled many different ways.

I really like Ewan. I have him on my favorite boys’ name list, but the main drawbacks for me are this:

1) It’s a bit of a “Gaelic bandwagon” name. With all the Aidans, Owens, Ians, Liams, and Connors running about our playgrounds, Ewan manages to sound trendy, despite its obscurity in the U.S.

2) I first heard the name on the Ewan McGregor, and I hate the idea of naming my child after a celebrity. I think this name is fairly celebrity-associated for most Americans. I’d much prefer to name my child after a historical or literary figure than a movie star.

In spite of those objections, I can’t shake my liking for this name. Since I have been to Scotland (and love it!), since my husband’s last name is historically Welsh-derived (so it sounds stylistically good with an Irish/Scottish/Gaelic first name), and since we both have some Scottish blood in us (along with tons of other things), Ewan remains on my list. I do have some other Scottish names on there as well (Alistair, Kenneth, and Callum are current favorites), so there’s a chance we could have a little Ewan someday.

I live in Scotland i know know a fair few Euan’s.
I find it a fairly uninspiring name probably because i have been surrounded by the name.

Ewan/Euan is one of the only masculine Gaelic names I like, he’s simple and strong and in being both of those he fufills a lot of the requirements parents have for their sons name. I think I prefer Euan too, he looks clearer – although don’t ask what I mean by that because I wouldn’t be able to tell you. At the moment Ewan is in steady usage in the UK but not overly popular, but my guess would be as Verity has indicated that as people strive to find ‘Jack’ alternatives, the use of Ewan (and Owen for that matter) will continue to rise…

Ewan/Euan is one of the only masculine Gaelic names I like, he’s simple and strong and in being both of those he fufills a lot of the requirements parents have for their sons name. I think I prefer Euan too, he looks clearer – although don’t ask what I mean by that because I wouldn’t be able to tell you. At the moment Ewan is in steady usage in the UK but not overly popular, but my guess would be as Verity has indicated that as people strive to find ‘Jack’ alternatives, the use of Ewan (and Owen for that matter) will continue to rise…

Oh, Ewan’s not *that* much of a gamble here, no is Euan! Go to any Boston park and listen, there’s a tiny handful to be heard. Last week, I heard it bellowed by three seperate voices!

For the record, I really like him. He’s simple, handsome and just plain nice. I prefer Euan, simply for looks but have no quibble with Ewan either. Euan is definitely the less popular spelling, google has 1,650,000, for simply Euan, Ewan, OTOH, 11,500,000. Now, I din’t really scan more than the first page for either (so unless you’re prepared for anything, don’t do it yourself!)

Euan gives me a slightly more creatve vibe than Ewan does. More open and crisp, if that makes any sense. Euan’s a clearer blue, Ewan’s a deeper, muddier blue. But I’m weird like that. Ewan/Euan definitely get a huge :thumbsup: from me, I would love to see him at least as popular as Anthony (#7)!