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Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

masc. proper name, Scottish form of John.


Ian, Iain (; ) is a name of Scottish Gaelic origin, corresponding to English/Hebrew John. It is a very popular name in much of the English-speaking world and especially in Scotland, where it originated. Ian was the 19th most popular male name, taking account of the whole British population (over 300,000 Ians in total).

The name has now fallen out of the top 100 male baby names in the UK, having peaked in popularity as one of the top 10 names throughout the 1960s, while remaining roughly constant in popularity in the USA. Back in 1900, Ian was the 180th most popular male baby name in England and Wales.

The original Irish Gaelic and Scottish Gaelic form of the name is Seán (or Seathan). Ian is a variant spelling of the ScoticisationsEathain, Eóin, and Iain.

! colspan="2" | Popularity of the name 'Ian' in the USA
















Note: Rank 1 is the most popular,
rank 2 is the next most popular, and so forth.
Name data are from Social Security card applications
for births that occurred in the United States.
Source: Social Security Administration.

Other Gaelic forms of "John" include "Seonaidh" ("Johnny" from Lowland Scots), "Seon" (from English), "Seathan", and "Seán" and " Eoin" (from Irish). Its Welsh counterpart is Ioan and Breton equivalent is Yann.

Ian (disambiguation)

Ian is a common given name, the Scottish Gaelic version of the name John. Ian or IAN may also refer to:

  • IATA airport code for Bob Baker Memorial Airport ( Kiana, Alaska)
  • Integration and Application Network at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science
  • Internet area network
  • International Article Number
  • Tropical Storm Ian (disambiguation)

Usage examples of "ian".

Ian Young took this seat next to me, and Boris Dmitrevich the one opposite.

All the furniture, except for the two chairs repositioned for Boris Dmitrevich and Ian Young, was ranged round the walls against the bookshelves and cupboards, leaving the centre free.

It appeared, from the expressions all around me, that what Boris was saying was no news to anyone except Ian Young and myself.

I said the words deliberately flatly, and Ian Young relayed them the same way, but they reproduced in Boris the old high alarm.

Evgeny and Olga had pressed Ian Young and me to stay for a further ten minutes after Boris had gone, so that if anyone were watching, we should not be connected.

Ian Hay was cheering up the troops, Belloc was writing articles on strategy, Maurois doing broadcasts, Bairnsfather drawing cartoons.

Three British forces, those of French, Rundle, and Ian Hamilton, were despatched to cut it off.

On September 3rd Lord Roberts, finding how strong a position faced Buller, despatched Ian Hamilton with a force to turn it upon the right.

In the centre Colonel Ian Hamilton commanded the Devons, the Gordons, the Manchesters, and the 2nd battalion of the Rifle Brigade, which marched direct into the battle from the train which had brought them from Durban.

Glenlyon, said Ian, the son of the chieftain: What seek ye with guns and with gillies so many?

She told herself that it was better to be mistaken for an absurd henwit than a scheming adulteress, but when she opened them again and saw Ian striding up the aisle, away from her, she no longer cared one way or another.

In the few additional moments Elizabeth sat there contemplating her alternatives she reached the obvious conclusion that she was vainly putting far too much emphasis on her importance to Ian.

Ian nodded, remembering the fortune Julius Cameron had gouged out of him in order to sign the betrothal agreement.

Her delicate brows drew together in blank confusion, and Ian grinned, taking her hand from his chest, the emerald betrothal ring he had bought her unnoticed in his fingers.

Ian Woods, his butler, had already laid out his clothes, and he could smell the faint scent of fresh biscuits rising from the kitchen.