Popular Scottish Forenames - J/K

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.

From the precious stone, the name has leaped up the chart of popular names in Scotland to 29th in 1998, presumably as a result of Mick Jagger's daughter being given that name. Parents are no doubt unaware that there was a Scots word "yade" which meant a worn out horse and that it was sometimes used as a contemptuous name for a woman!

From the Latin "Jacobus" the name has been in use in Scotland since at least the 13th century. From the 15th to the 18th century seven of the Kings of Scotland were named James. The Old Pretender, son of James VII would have been the King James VIII had he regained the throne. In the 19th century it was the second most frequently used boy's name in Scotland and rarely falls out of the top ten. Variations include the Gaelic Sheumas/Seumas which is anglicised as "Hamish". The name "Jack" is often regarded as a variation of "John" but is more correctly derived from the French "Jacques" or James. Jack has been the most popular boys' name in Scotland in recent years.

Jane / Janice / Jayne / Janine / Jenny / Johanna
A popular female form of John (see below). In Scotland, girls who have been registered at birth as Jane often became called Jean in later life - causing some confusion for those researching their family tree!

Originally a diminutive form of Jane, Janet has become popular in its own right. However, it became less "fashionable" in the middle of the 20th century. The United Kingdom's academic and research data communications network is called JANET.

The Greek "Eason" means "healer" and it is similar to the Hebrew name Joshua. Jason is accepted as the author of the book of Ecclesiasticus in the Bible. It has become popular in Scotland only in the present century, and has been boosted by films such as "Jason and the Argonauts" and by Jason Donovan. The Scottish film star Sean Connery has a son named Jason. It was the 73nd most popular boy's name in 1998.

Originating from an Old French name "Jehane" and the feminine form of "John" (from the Hebrew word "Johanan" meaning "God has been gracious" -see below) this name was popular for a long time in Scotland (Jean Armour was Robert Burns' wife at the end of the 18th century). In 1900 it was the 54th most frequently registered name and 12th most popular in 1950. But by 1975 it had dropped out of the top 100.

Jennifer / Jenna
Originally from the Welsh 'Gwenhwyfar' meaning 'fair and yielding'. Guinevere was the wife of the legendary King Arthur. Jennifer or Jenniver was a Cornish form which was virtually unknown outside of Cornwall until this century. In 1923 Noel Coward gave an impetus to the name in his play "The Young Idea". Short forms are Jenny and Jenna. Jennifer was the 24th most popular first name registered in 1999 and Jenna was 77th.

From the Hebrew for "seen by God", in the past the name was often shortened to "Jessie" in Scotland. It's use in Britain has been influenced by Shakespeare - Shylock's daughter in the Merchant of Venice was Jessica. It has become more popular in recent times and was the 47th most popular given name in 1999.

From the Hebrew word "Johanan" meaning "God has been gracious" the name has its origins in the Bible. The name came to Scotland after the Crusades as it had been mainly used in the Eastern Church until then - there were seven popes named John in the time of the Roman Empire. John Balliol was a king of Scotland at the end of the 13th century and his origins were Flemish. John Muir the naturalist, John Buchan the novelist, John Grierson the "father of the documentary" are a few examples of the many uses of the name. At one time it was the most popular name for a boy but in 1999, it was the 23rd most frequently registered name. Diminutives of the name include Jock and Johnny/Johnnie.

Derived from the Hebrew "Hardan" meaning "downward flowing" and applied to the river Jordan. The name was brought back to Scotland by the Crusaders (who also brought back water from the Jordan for baptisms). In 1165 and 1171 Jordano de Riddel signed a number of charters of King William the Lion. Despite its early use, it was not used very often until recently when it has leapt to prominence - peaking as 10th most used boys' first name in 1996.

Probably derived from the French "joir" meaning to be happy or joyful. Historically the forename Joyce was used as a boy's name but it is now usually a girl's name. The surname "Joyce" is also widespread, such as the writer James Joyce.

This is a name which has become popular in recent times. There are two suggestions for its origin - firstly that it is an easier spelling of cèilidh, the Gaelic word for a traditional social gathering which usually involves playing Gaelic folk music and dancing. Another suggestion is that it derived from the Australian name Kylie (which is the Australian word for a boomerang) and was used more frequently in the UK and Scotland following the fame of the Australian singer Kylie Minogue.

Kieran / Keiron
Another testimony to the influence of Irish names in Scotland, Kieran is derived from the Irish Gaelic word "Ciaran" meaning 'dusky' or 'dark skinned'. The name is also found in Brittany, where St Kieran's day is still celebrated on 5 March. In 332 a Kieran was a grandson of Mugghdhorn (after whom the Mountains of Mourne are named). A number of saints were named Ciaran and St Patrick appointed Kieran a bishop in the 5th century. The name is now in the list of top twenty boys' names in Scotland.

One of the "top 100" boys' names registered for a number of years it fell out of the top 100 in 1999. It is from the place name Keith in East Lothian and appears as early as the 12th century when Malcolm de Keith witnessed a gift to the Abbey of Kelso. The name Keith may have come from the Brythonic/Welsh word"coedwig" or the Gaelic word "ceiteach", both meaning forest.

The name is derived from the early Gaelic "cin-aedha" meaning "fiery" or "coinneach" meaning "handsome". Coinneach was an Irish saint in the 6th century who visited both Scotland (including Iona) and Wales where he was known as Canice or Canicus. The name has been popular in Scotland since the days of Kenneth MacAlpin who united the Scots and the Picts in the 9th century (there were two further kings named Kenneth). Coinneach was the progenitor of the Mackenzie (sons of Kenneth) chiefs and Kenneth has always been popular in that clan.

DErived from the Irish Gaelic "Caomhin" meaning "born handsome." in the 6th century the hermit St Kevin founded a monastery in County Wicklow. Kevin was only used in Ireland until the 20th century, but is now found in most English-speaking countries.

Kirsty / Kirsten
The Scandinavian and then Scottish form of Christine. Kirsty was the 20th most popular girls' name in 1999, perhaps given a boost by the popular TV presenter Kirsty Wark.

In Australia this name is derived from an Aboriginal word meaning "boomerang" but it is also a pet form of "Kyle", from the Gaelic word "cill" meaning "church" or "coil" meaning "wood". The name became popular in Scotland (and elsewhere) as a result of the meteoric rise of Kylie Minogue.

Return to Index Page of popular Scottish forenames.

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