Popular Scottish Forenames - D/E

This page is one of a series giving the origins of popular first names in Scotland. See the link at the end of the page if you wish to go to sections relating to other letters of the alphabet.

Daniel was originally a Hebrew biblical name (meaning "God is my judge") and the stories of Daniel in the lion's den gave the name a popularity all over Europe. It is synonymous with the Gaelic name Domhnall (though that name is really closer to Donald). Names derived from the bible have fallen out of favour in the 20th century. But Daniel has remained popular, remaining in the top 20 in recent years. Daniel Boone, the American frontiersman, was of Scottish descent.

Originally a Hebrew name meaning "beloved" it has spread around the world and was the 18th most popular boy's name registered in Scotland in 1999 (though it was in 4th place in 1958). There have been two kings of Scotland named David - the son of Malcolm Canmore who reigned from 1124 to 1153 and the son of Robert the Bruce who reigned from 1329 to 1371.The first name David has produced the surnames Davidson and Dawson. A feminine form, Davina, is also found.

Derived from the Celtic St Deaglán, who was one of the first Irish Christians, this name is well used in Scotland, being the 35th most popular boys' name registered in 1999. The origin of the name may be from the Irish 'deagh' meaning 'good' and 'lán' meaning full, producing 'full of goodness.' There is a feminine version, Decla.

The name is derived from the Old German name "Theodoric" which means "ruler of the people". It was probably brought to Scotland via Holland in the 15th century as "Dirk" (as in Dirk Bogarde). It came into wide use in the 19th century and reached a peak of popularity just before World War II. Although it is not one of the top 100 first names currently found in Scotland it is nevertheless a commonly found name. There are variant spellings such as Derrick, Dereck and Deryck. The diminutive form is Rick. British actors/entertainers with the name include Derek Nimmo, Sir Derek Jacobi, Derek Farr.

Derived from the Irish Gaelic "dubno" or "dumno" meaning "great ruler", the name came to Scotland via the Scots settlements in Dalriada (Argyll) in the form "Domhnall" and was used by early Scottish Kings. Domhnall MacAlpin succeeded his brother Kenneth and ruled the united kingdom of Scots and Picts from 859 to 863. Donald III (roughly 1031 to 1097) was the last king to be buried on Iona. In the 13th century, Donald of Islay founded the MacDonald clan which became one of the most powerful in the west of Scotland. At one time the "Lords of the Isles" were powerful enough to challenge the King of Scotland. At one time Donald was the second most frequently found given name in the Highlands (after John) but hs not been so popular in recent times. In Scotland as a whole, Donald was the 16th most frequently registered forename in 1900 but had dropped to 54th in 1975 and was outside the top 100 by 2000. Even so, it is still found frequently in the Western Isles. A feminine form Donaldina is not found often in recent times.

From the Gaelic words "dubh" meaning black and "glas" meaning water, it was applied to many rivers - and to the capital of the Isle of Man as well as number of places in Scotland. It became the surname of the Douglas clan which became powerful in the 13th century. Douglas was unknown as a forename until the 16th century - when it was used as much as a girl's name as for a boy.

Dugald / Dougal
The name was first used by a descendant of Somerled, King of the Isles who, according to historians, had a Viking mother and a father who descended from a king of Dalriada. The Gaelic "dubh-gall" meaning "dark stranger" may have been applied to the invading Danes in the outer isles. It was originally a surname (now usually seen as MacDougall) and was popular in the Highlands and Islands but is used less frequently now.

From the Gaelic words 'dun' and 'chadh' meaning 'a brown haired warrior". Early forms were 'Donnachadh' and 'Dunchadh'. There have been two kings of Scotland named Duncan - King Duncan I who reigned from 1034 to 1040 (and who was murdered by Macbeth) and King Duncan II, son of Malcolm III who reigned briefly in 1094. The name also became a surname from around the 14th century (and is now the 25th most common surname in Scotland).

22nd in the list of the most common first names registered in Scotland in 1997, Dylan is more Welsh than Scots. It comes from a legendary Welsh "son of the waves" and has been helped in its popularity by the singer Bob Dylan and possibly Dylan in the "Magic Roundabout" TV series, though poet Dylan Thomas is probably the most famous bearer of the name.

This is a form of Helen, which was the Greek for "bright one" and goes back to Helen of Troy. The name came to Britain as a result of Eleanor of Aquitane (1122-1204) who married Henry II, and later King Edward I who married Eleanor of Castile. In Scotland, there was a royal connection with Eleanor, daughter of King James I. Although a popular name down the centuries, it is outwith the top 100.

Elizabeth / Lisa
Derived from the Hebrew "Elisheba" or "oath of God". In Scotland the name has often been used as "Isobel" and the Gaelic version is Elisaid or Elasaid while the diminutive "Betty" in Gaelic is Beitidh. There are many other pet names derived from Elizabeth and "Lisa" has also become popular in Scotland - Lisa is 59th most recorded name in 1999 while Elizabeth was 56th. Other popular versions of the name in Scotland are "Beth" (52nd most used, though it may be derived from the Gaelic "beatha" meaning "life") and Elspeth. In history, Queen Elizabeth I of England reigned from 1558 to 1603 and Queen Elizabeth II came to the throne in 1952.

This is a Scottish variation of Elizabeth (which in turn is from the Hebrew "Elisheba" the oath of God). Sir Walter Scott used the name in both Guy Mannering and Rob Roy.

Coming 4th in the 1999 list of most popular girls' names in Scotland, Emma is derived from an Old German word "irmin" meaning "universal" It came to Britain with the Norman invasion and is recorded in Scotland in the 12th century. Perhaps the most famous bearer of the name was Lady Emma Hamilton, Admiral Lord Nelson's mistress.

Emily / Emilia
Derived from Aemilius, a Roman clan. Originally Emilia was the most used version in Scotland but that is rarely seen and Emily has taken over, being the 11th most popular girl's name in 1999. The writer Emily Brontë was perhaps the most famous bearer of the name.

From the Gaelic word "Eireann" meaning 'western isle'. Eire was a goddess after whom the Republic of Ireland was named. With the strong connection between Scotland and Ireland it is perhaps not surprising that Erin is one of the top 15 girls' names in Scotland

This is the Scottish form a name which is found in different forms in various parts of the Celtic world - Ewen, Evan or Owen in Wales, Eoghan and Eoin in Ireland and Youenn in Brittany. The name may have originated from a Celtic word meaning "yew tree" or "eoghan" meaning "youth". It is a form of the name John, meaning "God is gracious" and it has always been popular; it was the 36th most frequently registered name in 1998.

The name comes from a Greek word meaning "fair of speech" and appears in the New Testament. St Euphemia was a 4th century Christian martyr (the lions refused to devour her so she was burnt at the stake instead). The name became popular in Scotland from about the 12th century (more so in Scotland than in, say, Ireland or England). In the 13th century, Euphemia, Countess of Ross founded Fortrose Cathedral. The name became popular in the 19th century but has since fallen out of favour. There were a number of variations in spelling and it was often shortened to a pet name of Effie and Fay is also a short form of the name.

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