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Tuesday, September 12, 2017 by Deta

Welsh girls names have had a harder time in the survival stakes compared with their male counterparts. Several Welsh male names have maintained wide popularity across the centuries -- even during heavy anglicisation and oppression of the language. In contrast, very few traditional Welsh girls names were used in the in the 18th and 19th century until the late Victorian revival. Gwenllian is the only female Welsh name found in the 1841, 1851 and 1861 census that was used popularly. 

Many of the female Welsh names popular today are either historical revivals or modern coinages dating from 1890 onwards. 


Seren - The Welsh vocabulary word for "star" has becoming a big hit in Wales in recent years. In 2009 it was the third most popular name having first come into use as a name in the mid 20th century. 

Megan - This most well-known Welsh diminutive for Margaret/Marged, currently ranking at #5, has been a longstanding favourite. The popularity of Margaret throughout the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries has ensured that this pet form has remained strong and, as with many diminutives, it now stands solidly on its own. Internationally it is often erroneously confused as being an Irish name. 

Ffion - The Welsh word for "foxglove", in reference to the red colour, ranked at #11 in 2009 and has been used since 1920. Ffiona, the Welsh form of Fiona is found at the same time, which has given rise to the mistaken meaning of Ffion. 

Cerys - Ranked at #23 in 2009. Its meaning, "love", has made it a popular choice, and namesake Cerys Matthews, lead singer of Catatonia made it famous. It is first found in birth records in 1930. 

Carys - From the same route as Cerys. It ranked #33 in 2009 and is first recorded in 1903. 

Bethan - As the most well-known standard Welsh diminutive of Elizabeth, Bethan shares a similar history to Megan. In the De Situ Brecheniauc the name appears as one of the daughters of Brychan, the 5th century king of Breconshire. It has been used as a stand alone name since 1910 and ranked #54 in 2009. 

Nia - The Welsh version of the Irish Niamh. It was unused as a name until T Gwynn Jones used it to translate Niamh in Tir na n-Og, which was based on the Irish legend and published in 1916. It ranked #59 in 2009. 

Elin - The Welsh version of Ellen or Helen ranked #61 in 2009.

Lowri - The Welsh version of Laura which ranked (joint) #68 in 2009. The mother of William Morgan, who translated the bible into Welsh in 1588, bore this name.

Mali - Welsh diminutive of Mary and equivalent to Molly. Ranked (joint) #68 in 2009. 

Catrin - The Welsh version of Catherine which ranked #82 in 2009. Owain Glyndwr had a daughter with the name. Catrin of Ferain (c.1540-1591) was a welsh noblewoman known as "the mother of Wales" due to her many descendants and social links. 

Cadi - One of the Welsh diminutives of Catrin which ranks at #90 in Wales. It has been used as a stand alone name since the 1980s. 

Mari - The Welsh form of Mary which ranked #100 in 2009.