Name of the Day: Lachlan

If your heritage is part Scots, part Norwegian, then this pick is perfect for you firstborn son.

Thanks to Sassy for suggesting Lachlan as Name of the Day.

Lachlan is one of those ever-so-Scottish appellations.  But dig in just a tiny bit, and you find yourself standing in another country entirely.

Loch is, of course, the Scottish for lake.  (The Loch Ness monster is thought to lurk beneath the waters of Lake Ness.)  Once upon a time, Norway was referred to as Lochlann – land of the lakes.  And so the name was bestowed upon those from Norway, or with Norwegian blood.

Over the years, the spelling morphed. Lachlann,  Lochlainn, Lauchlan and Laochailan are among the variants found.  That last one gave rise to a competing theory for Lachlan’s origins – the Gaelic word laochail, warlike.

There’s also Loughlin and Laughlin – they all share the pronunciation LAHK lan, but these two spellings are usually reserved for surnames.

Despite the link to Viking warriors of yore, most notable bearers of the name have been of Scottish descent.  There’s:

  • A string of chiefs of Clan Maclean between the 1300s and present day.  At least eight have been named Lachlan;
  • Scottish born Lachlan McIntosh became a leader in the American revolution from his adoptedhome in the state of Georgia;
  • Lachlan Macquarie left the Inner Hebrides back in the nineteenth century and became the visionary governor of New South Wales, Australia.

Doubtless that’s why Lachlan is a big name down under – he’s solidly in the Top Ten throughout Australia and hovers near the Top 25 in New Zealand.

That’s far more popular than the UK – he’s just outside of the Top 100.  In the US, Lachlan is a rarity.  Believe it or not, he has never ranked in the Top 1000.

His comparatively unknown status in the US could appeal to American parents searching for something unusual, but not outlandish.  Lachlan fits in with Top 50 choices like Logan, Liam and Landon while still sounding more distinctive.

And the nickname Lach – pronounced like the word lock – puts this choice up there with Cassius/Cash, Dashiell/Dash and other traditional picks with trendy short forms.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention one more famous Lachlan – the developer of Baby Name Brainstorm, a truly sophisticated baby name search engine.

In the US, the only drawback to Lachlan is that he might read either too very Scottish, making him a less-than-perfect pick for parents from other backgrounds – or, possibly, the thought of Lachlan endlessly being mistaken for Logan or Landon.

But overall, he’s the right mix of perfectly valid historical choice and underused option, with a touch of nature name thrown in for good measure.

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28 Comments

We just named our son Lachlan – Chose it because Lachie is a cute nick name to have when hes youger and Lachlan is so masculine and formal for when he enters the workforce. im also a school teacher and have never come across a naughty Lachlan. 🙂

We used the name for the same reason, I’m all Norwegian and my husband is mostly Irish and a good chunk of his family in Ireland came there from Scotland. I met a guy from Ireland the other day whose father’s name was Lochlann and he was really happy to meet someone with the name, which he says you rarely hear in Ireland. He said that there were maybe a few in his father’s generation that he knew of. I really liked the “o” spelling over the “a”, so I was happy to hear his dad spelled it with an “o”! Being a stickler for original spellings and using the name Lochlan, taking into account all of its spellings was a bit daunting.

Anyway, we have two boys and had a horrible time trying to find girl names, so I guess we just lucked out. My first son was going to be called Kaia if he was a girl, but if we had a girl this last time she would have been Elsa. Our girl picks were always more Scandinavian. There is also a Scottish name that is similar to Elsa: AILSA f Scottish, From Ailsa Craig, the name of an island off the west coast of Scotland, which is of uncertain derivation.

Have you considered Isolde (Welsh) instead of Isobel? Isabel and all its variations are so popular, I just wouldn’t do it. Other names you might consider are Mattea/Mathea/Matea, just plain Tea/Thea, Freya, Maura, Anja, Elin (El-een), Laila, Kirsten, Maren, Nora, Siri, Siv (Seev, or Seef), Signy. These are mostly Scandinavian, but I’m sure there are some Scottish names that would be good to consider as well. Good luck!

My background is Norwegian and my husband’s is Scottish. We thought Lachlan was a perfect name to honor that combination. And we kept the Scottish theme going with his twin brother Graham (my husband’s clan name). Now we’re ready to welcome baby #3, a girl, and I’m finding the process much harder. I’m loving Isobel, but it seems like she’ll just be one of hundreds of the Isabelle variety.

We have got a Lachlan and we called his little sister Morven..Another Gaelic name meaning Mountain Peak…and no other Morven’s around…

My son was born 3 days ago. We had called him Lochlan James (with an O) and so many people have told me they have never heard it before. But unamously love the name. It goes really well with our surname – McCauley. Found this a very interesting read.

We’ve met one other Lochlan that lives near us and his name is Lachlan James. The two names flow nicely together. Congratulations! We chose the ‘o’ spelling, too.

I’m posting waaay late on this, but this is so weird because my son is, in fact party irish/scottish and Norwegian, he was due on June 8th, 2009 (the date of this post!), though born before, and we named him Lochlan!! Weird.

I know, isn’t that weird? I wanted to name my older son Lochlan and my husband hated it at the time- second time around he loved it, so I guess it was fated this way 🙂

We have three daughters and Lachlan was our favourite boy’s name on our last two pregnancies! Lachlan is still perched high on our moniker pedestal and i’m sure will never change, even now we’re DEFINATELY FINISHED! Both of us are completly gutted we never got to use this cool, quirky and totally underused
‘LAD TAG’. Especially as our Surname is Scottish and my Maiden name is Scandinavian and we’re Irish. In Ireland, (Mc)Laughlin and (O’)Loughlin are very very popular Surnames.
We named our last little girl Elodie Rose (nn. Elie) and thought the sibset of Lachlan and Elodie really worked well together but i didn’t have one of each twins unfortunately, despite my husband being an identical twin himself! Ah Well!
Abby, have you discussed twin names specifically?
My hubby is Vincent and his brother is James (nn. Jim) and i know of twin girls named Dorenda and Josephine (nn. Josie), twin boys called Billy and Jonny, and also David and Mark and in the UK on Big Brother there were twin sisters called Sam and Amanda but the media named them Samanda! And two sets of ‘one of each twins’ i know were called Edel and Anthony and also Nichola and Barry. None of which in my humble opinion really flow well as sibsets never mind Twin Sibsets!
What do you think?

That was fascinating. I had always assumed that Lachlan was a surname name that only became popular recently. After reading that this name has a long history as a first name, I like it even more.

Just thought I’d rephrase my comment… I hardly think people name their kids after Rupert Murdoch’s son, but you know, I guess he’s probably given the name some exposure.
Sophie – that’s an interesting mix of nationalities. Rather nice sibset – Hamish is so handsome, as is Lachlan and I’m a huge fan of Sophie, however it’s spelt 🙂

LOL, Julia! You’re absolutely right that Rupert Murdoch isn’t necessarily someone who comes to mind when I think about baby names. But I do think that names that wind up in the media, for whatever reason, can inspire. I often wonder about that … like Damien and Regan climbing in the rankings AFTER they’ve been used in horror films.

I can’t believe he hasn’t caught on in the US really! I’m awed he’s not even top 1000 material.. down here Lachlan sat at #6 in my state (Ava is the #6 girl), with only William, Jack, Thomas, Joshua and James eclipsing him in popularity, so it’s strange to me when someone calls him rare!

He is one I do quite like though – soft yet masculine and an interesting sound despite the uber popularity. I have a darling little Lachlan in my class this year, who has siblings Hamish and Sofie.

Lachlan’s definitely very masculine but he’s just so, so, so popular! I could sort of get away with it because I am part Scottish but still, so popular! To me, he’s a male version of Olivia – definitely an attractive choice, and I’d consider it if he wasn’t so darn popular.
Rupert Murdoch’s son is called Lachlan – wonder if that’s also why Lachie is so popular?

I love Lachlan, but I do worry about it sounding trendy, despite its true obscurity. I’d be happy to use it someday, though there are others I love more. And we do have the Scottish cred to back it up (and then some!) 😉

Honestly, I’d be delighted to hear of a little Lachlan ’round these parts.

I like Lachlan. At first I dismissed it because it sounded too trendy, but I was happy when I found out he’s not a top 1000 name. Eric and I will definitely consider Lachlan for a little boy.

I love Lachlan! My only drawback is that it may be a bit of a tongue-twister with my girl’s name, Clara. It’s on our list because of the Scottish cred, for my side, and the meaning, since my husband’s ancestry is Norwegian. I think it’s very cool, and it continues to abide on our list.

I really really really like Lachlan. In fact, I could easily see myself naming my first two sons Lachlan and Callum — wouldn’t those be such handsome brothers? The only thing that holds me back is the knowledge that Gaelic/Irish/Scottish names are “in” right now, so I worry about these choices sounding trendy. After all, Callum just entered the top 1000, and with Lachlan so hot in Australia, it feels like it’s just one handsome movie star away from its American debut.

So, I’ll probably stick with my old-style revival names (like Julius and Edward and Frederick) because they just might feel a bit more timeless.

But if my husband ever latched on to this one, I’d name my son Lachlan in a heartbeat.

Lachlan and Callum – what a great set! And it is crazy that they’re not BOTH more popular in the US.

I love Frederick. If we ever have another son … or, you know, a Golden retriever. But I’d love for someone to use it for a real live boy!

There’s probably some of that, Emmy Jo. Freddie is cute as can be. We’d actually use Frederic, for two reasons: 1) Chopin. He’s Polish, as is my husband’s family. And my husband’s family is wildly into classical music in a way that I will never understand. 2) My father’s name was Eric and my brother’s name is Eric. He wants to reserve the possibility of handing down Eric to a future son, and I respect that.

As for Fred … Flinstone, Rogers … I dunno. If Charlie and Henry can be cool names, and Walter and Clark sound quite kinda retro fashionable, why not Fred?

Hah! I’ve got a Callum and a Lachlan, so I’m glad to read others think they’re a good sib set. I think both names have started to creep up the charts in the US in the past 10 years–Lachlan is in the Top 1000 now.