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Macdara, MacAodh and other Mac names

39 replies

SeanChailleach · 04/10/2022 13:13

I noticed that MacDara is getting used a little and wondered what people think of these sort of names.

OP posts:
mathanxiety · 06/10/2022 16:09

@ChagSameachDoreen

Shameless ignorance is never a pretty sight.

Blackberrybunnet · 06/10/2022 17:24

Anything with a Mac in front for a girl is wrong wrong wrong. it means "son".

ProfessorFusspot · 06/10/2022 21:57

I tend to think that McKayla, used for girls, is Michaela, but can't think of a justification for MacKenzie.

Surnames as first names have been used in Scotland for long time; traditionally it's family surnames, so a fair amount of Mac- . There are cases of MacKenzie as a first name for girls back to the 1880s, and probably even further as a middle name which might be the name in everyday use, but it didn't really take off until the late '80s/early '90s, around the same time it peaked for girls in the USA, where it was in the top 50 for a few years. I've never personally seen MacKayla (or MacKinna, which is also popular for girls in the USA) used as a first name or surname in Scotland. In general, Mac- first names aren't that prevalent - in the 2021 data only MacKenzie showed up on the list for girls (ranked 442 with 7 occurrences). For boys, Mac alone was the most popular (ranked 221 with 20 instances), then Mack (316/12), MacKenzie (401/8), and MacAulay (601/4).

Unless the name MacKinna has some more direct Irish roots, I'm guessing it's a take-off on MacKenna, from the old Gaelic surnames MacCionadha, or possibly MacCinidh (usually anglicised as MacKinnie). No idea re MacKayla - MacÀidh/MacAoidh, usually anglicised as MacKay, MacKee, or MacHugh, is the closest surname I can think of. MacDara probably would be perceived as feminine in this context too, by non-Irish (and non-Gaelic) speakers. I nominate MacAbhra/MacAra, MacAnndra, MacCàba, MacColla, MacNia, and MacRiada for the next generation of genuine Scottish "feminine son of" names... 😁🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

Seriously, it is a bit strange to use "son of" for a girl, especially as the body of the name is most often a male first name. But in Scotland the female (Nic - daughter of) and neutral (Ua - child of) forms were mostly converted to Mac sometime in the sixteenth century, so Mac is a kind of default "child of" - no odder I suppose than naming a girl Addison, Madison or Carson. There are even some traditional Mac- names where the first name referenced is likely from the mother, like Mac a' Leòra/MacLabhra or MacClure (Laura) or MacSìle/MacSìleas (Cecilia/Sheila), but the etymology is hard to trace. MacAilis/MacAilish may be "son of Alice", but is also conflated with similar names like MacAulish and MacAuley.

Some Scottish Mac- names seem to come from an unnamed mother or female ancestor - for example MacCuinn, MacCuithein, MacShuibhne (and the anglicised MacQueen) have generally been interpreted as son/descendant of the queen, and MacCròin/MacCrone as son/descendant of the crone. And then there are traditional Mac names that don't refer to a specific person's first name, for example Mac a' Bhiocair/MacBhiocair/MacVicar = son of the vicar, Mac a' Chruiteir/MacWhirter = son of the harper, Mac a' Bhruthainn/MacBrayne = son of the brown one, Mac'IlleNaoimh/MacNiven = son of the saint, etc. I'd guess MacDara fits this pattern - something like son of oak/the oaks? These ones might, purely in terms of the meaning and if you read "son" as child/descendant, be a little less male-centred.

Thank you for coming to my MacTed Talk! 🤓😴

JaneJeffer · 06/10/2022 21:59

Plenty of Macdaras around in Ireland

JaneJeffer · 06/10/2022 22:02

Just groups of letters.
That's how words are put together. Amazing isn't it @ChagSameachDoreen

WordOfTheDay · 07/10/2022 15:44

I've met a couple of Macdaras. I believe it's prevalent in Connemara. I like the name.

mathanxiety · 07/10/2022 19:46

Groups of letters:
Right
Night
Light
Fight
Bight
Sight
Delight
Skylight
Archduke
Archways
Archangel
Latchstring
Psychiatry
Cysts
Cystitis
Psych
Wry
Wryly
Spryly
Rhythm
Pyrrhic
Hymns
Promptly
Myrrh
Nymphs
Catarrh
Diarrhoea
Trysts
Symptoms
Gymnasts
Myths
Crypts
Sphynx
Sphynxes
Twelfths
Sylphs
Pygmy

SeanChailleach · 07/10/2022 20:16

Is McKinna how McKenzie is pronounced in Scots? Like Minnis and Menzies?

OP posts:
KirstenBlest · 07/10/2022 20:23

Isn't Menzies pronounced Ming-gis?

KirstenBlest · 07/10/2022 20:26

Or is it Ming-iss?

BonnieWeeJeannieMcColl · 07/10/2022 21:46

Ming-iss

debwong · 07/10/2022 22:06

Ugh, I cannot abide surnames being used as first names.

GucciBear · 07/10/2022 22:09

Macaroni Cheese?

IShouldBeWriting · 08/10/2022 07:19

debwong · 07/10/2022 22:06

Ugh, I cannot abide surnames being used as first names.

MacDara isn't a surname. There are several Mac names recorded in very old texts, predating surnames. At the time, names starting with Der, Fer, Bé, Mael, Giolla, were all common. Those words mean daughter, man, woman, "devotee", "servant".
Nowadays we give children names like Rowan and Willow (i've not met an "Oak"), but maybe MacDara = OakChild.

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