He’s got history aplenty and could fit right in with single-syllable boys’ choices like Finn and Cole.

Thanks to Bewildertrix for suggesting Tadhg as Name of the Day.

Like many an Irish appellation, Tadhg can make your eyes cross and tongue tie up in knots.  Caoimhe and Aoife, Eoin and Diarmaid are all appealing choices, but the unfamiliar will not automatically say KEE va, EE fa, OH in and DEER mid.

Tadhg’s sound is actually quite straightforward.  He sounds like the first syllable of tiger – tieg.  County Kerry-born Tadhg Kennelly is among the best known bearers of the name.  He currently plays for the Australia Football League’s Sydney Swans.  As I listened to sports announcers discuss Kennelly’s feats, I couldn’t help think that any accent other than my bland American one lent Tadgh a bit more presence.

Speaking of challenges, you might hear Tadhg pronounced tayg or teeg, too.  Some of the confusion comes from various Anglicized versions of the name.  There’s Tighe, but also Teague – and while Tighe seems straightforward, Teague doesn’t seem like the same name – or to indicate the same vowel sounds.  (In an earlier era, Irish Tadhgs in the US became often became known as Tim.)

While Tadhg, Tighe and Teague are all no-shows in the US Top 1000, after some searching, I did find a YouTube video where a very much American mom introduces her son, Tadhg Thomas.

In Ireland, Tadhg is a Top 100 choice.  He appears in Irish myth as Tadg mac Nuadat, grandfather to Finn MacCool.  Several kings of Connacht wore the name from the ninth century through the eleventh.

While Tadhg fell out of use amongst the royalty, he can still be found in the historical record.   In the late 1500s/early 1600s, writer Tadhg Og Ó Cianáin chronicled political events.

Tadhg was a fitting name for a writer.  It means poet, and some have suggested that the meaning is broader – perhaps more akin to philosopher.

Like many an Irish appellation, the diminutive form is Tadhgán and you’ll come across surnames based on both versions.  This muddies the pronunciation more, because Tadhgán has inspired a fairly popular given name in the US – Teagan.

Today, Teagan is in use for both genders and seems poised to keep climbing.  In 2008, he ranked #657 on the boys’ side and #321 for girls.  While some parents might settle on Teagan as a nod to their Irish heritage, it seems likely to appeal to parents embracing modern names like Jayden or Peyton.

While Tadhg might require you to repeat “sounds like tiger, without the -er” more times that you imagine, he has some serious advantages:

  • He fits with the emerging preference for single-syllable boys names;
  • The pronunciation isn’t difficult – once you know;
  • Unlike some short names, like Jay, that feel more like diminutives than formal given names, Tadhg sounds complete.

So if you’re seeking an authentic Irish heritage choice, and don’t mind spelling out your son’s name again (and again), this could make for an interesting option.

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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  1. I thought that Teagan was a modern variant of an old Welsh spelling of “Tegwen” meaning “beautiful, blessed or fair.” Am I wrong?

    1. I’m fairly confident they’re originally two unrelated names – Tadhg and Tegwen. The gwen element in Tegwen does mean fair, and the first element has a similar meaning. I can imagine that Teagan could stand in for Tegwen as easily as it could serve as a diminutive form of Tadhg, but I think that’s a coincidence that has developed relatively recently.

  2. This is definitely my all time favorite Gaelic boy’s name. I adore Irish names.. you should do a post on Niamh (favorite girl’s name). But is is completely weird to name your child a so incredibly Irish name (as opposed to names like Kathleen or Liam that are more Americanized) if you haven’t got a drop of Irish blood in you?

    1. Niamh will be NotD on 2/8 – how have I not written about her yet? As for the blood question, I’m not sure. I met a non-Japanese couple who called their daughter Keiko. (She’s half-German and looks like a little fraulein – blonde hair, blue eyes.) My neighbors paired a very Scottish first name (her side) with his obviously Latino surname. Seamus looks, well, half-Scottish, half-Latino. And plenty of families use names to celebrate their Russian/French/Italian heritage, even though it is in the distant past … and means neglecting other heritages.

      I could go on. I think the bottom line is this – if the name isn’t actually going to cause your child distress, you can consider it. But much of the decision has to do with your personal comfort level, where you live, how adventurous your friends and family have been with baby names … we could call our kid Niamh here, in Metro DC, and no one would be fussed. But in my smaller, less cosmopolitan hometown? Maybe not so much.

  3. I read this post earlier and came back to see comments. I still skimmed through and read it as Tad-ig. There’s no way this child would ever have anyone call him by the right name.

    1. Claire, you’re probably right – except that I’m hearing more parents consider non-intuitively pronounced choices like Niamh. It may the logical extension of the Irish naming trend that’s been building for years. (I know two baby Maeves!)

    2. I’m in the same boat here- I read through and still hear Tadj or Tadguh or some such thing in my mind.

      But I have automatically heard Neeve for Niamh from almost as soon as I learned the correct pronunciation. I’m not sure why that one was so much easier for me.

  4. I always thought it was TEIG, not TIEG. 🙁 I really like it pronounced “Teague”.

    Would it be horrible if I continued to pronounce it wrong? Because in my combo it works as Teague!

    1. LOL – me, too, Corinne! And I’ve seen it listed SO many places with Teague as an equivalent. I think if Tadhg were in the middle spot, you could do as you please.

      Actually, this one is such a rarity in the US, I can’t see the harm in TEIG, either.

  5. I’ve gone off it 🙁 Perfectly lovely Irish name that does get some use here in NZ but I’ve stupidly glossed over an easy and very intuitive nickname in Tai/Tye. This would drive me crazy. The Tai/Tye, Jai/Jye/Jhye, Kye/Kai and Taj names are the bane of the Aussie/Kiwi BAs. No thanks.

    That combined with the spelling/pronunciation issues I was willing to accept (I still have problems with Isla, of all names here), means I’d probably just consider it for a second middle.


  6. I’ve been wondering where all this Teagan stuff came from! it seems to be a favorite choice for girls on the Y!A boards. Keegan is going to the boys. Both annoy me. I can’t say I’m a fan of Tadhg, either. The spelling is all wrong for the USA, and it just sounds like a nickname. Maybe if I had Irish ancestry, or lived inthe UK somewhere. But here? Not happening.

    1. I’m not sure that Teagan’s popularity is actually related to Tadhg – isn’t that another TV tie-in? Hmmm … there was a character called Tegan on Doctor Who back in the 80s. I’m drawing a blank – a soap opera, maybe?