Once upon a time Aidan was an obscure Gaelic choice. Today, parents are searching high and low for a similar-but-different choice for sons.

Thanks to Alicia for suggesting a contender. Today’s Name of the Day is Tynan.

The 1970s were all about Brian. Ryan eclipsed his cousin in the 80s and 90s. As parents looked harder for an Irish appellation that wasn’t already shared by every mini-Murphy, some stumbled on Aidan. You know the rest of that story. Now parents are searching farther afield, considering gems like Ronan.

He’s authentically Irish – from the Gaelic Ó Teimhneáin, possibly related to an Old Irish word for dark – teimhean. File Tynan squarely in the “last-names-first” category. But Tynan’s appeal is partially thanks to his first syllable.

Ty, as in baseball legend Cobb (born Tyrus) and home improvement guru Pennington (born Gary Tygert), is a popular pick for boys these days, in many a form. Ways to get to this two-letter nickname include:

  • Tyler peaked at #5 in ’94, but still ranked #27 last year;
  • Plain ol’ Ty seems awfully brief, but ranked #247;
  • Tyson sounds more appealing if you think Beckford instead of chicken – or the boxer – and came in at #249;
  • Retro Tyrone ranked #654;
  • A bunch of nouveau coinages are also in use, including Tyree at #724, Tyrell at #778, Tyrese at #881 and Tyshawn at #920.

So while Tynan has never charted in the US Top 1000, between his two-syllable, ends-in-n sound and popular nickname, he might not feel all that unusual.

There’s a tiny village in Northern Ireland called Tynan, but the Irish name – Tuíneán – suggests that the town and the surname don’t share roots. Though the village is small, back in 1981, Tynan made the international news. In January, members of the the Provisional Irish Republican Army broke into Tynan Abbey and killed two members of the aristocratic Stronge family. As part of the attack, the Abbey was burnt to the ground. While the events are fading into the past, it is always possible that someone will view your choice as political – especially if you’re Irish.

A few other associations include:

  • Ronan Tynan, an Irish tenor (and former member of the Irish Tenors) known for singing God Bless America before New York Yankees’ games;
  • Philadelphia is home to the nicely-named newscaster Cecily Tynan;
  • Kenneth Tynan was a famous British theater critic, known for quips like “A critic is a man who knows the way but can’t drive the car” and scathing reviews;
  • Katharine Tynan was a late nineteenth/early twentieth-century Irish poet and novelist.

Tynan is likely to appeal to parents eager for something just a little bit different. He marries super-trendy Aidan with the equally popular Tyler. That’s probably the same reason he’ll put off parents who are seeking something truly distinctive – Tynan might be just a tiny bit too familiar. Still, he’s a true rarity, authentically Irish and an appealing formal name for Ty.

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. I never would have thought of this name. Not for me, but I agree that it’s a great way to have a Ty. All I could think of while reading this was actress Tyne Daly.

  2. At first, I couldn’t get past the idea of the tines on a fork. But the more I think about it, the more I like it, especially when I imagine it pronounced with an Irish accent. It’s a pretty good way of getting to the very appealing NN Ty, without resorting to the ubiquitous Tyler.

  3. It sounded so familiar and I couldn’t put my finger on it until I got to your mention of Cecily Tynan. Yep, that’s it. I’m luke warm to tepid on Tynan. Too much ‘n’ for my personal tastes and it does sound a little trendy to me, as you ventured in the final paragraph. Of the Ty names you mention, Tyrone is my favorite, but still not one I would use. But there’s nothing about Tynan that induces a strong reaction – if I met a Tynan it would probably have the same effect on me as meeting a Tyler or a Tyson – no wows either way.