Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Clyde

The origins of Clyde can be found in Scotland. It developed as a surname mainly found in the regions of Scotland and Northern Ireland (Ulster). It was first used in the Middle Ages to identify people dwelling on the banks of the River Clyde, the third longest river in Scotland and one which flows through the city of Glasgow. The river’s name (Clyde) is an anglicized version of an older Gaelic name: Cluaidh. The river may have been named by the ancient Brythonic-Celtic Damnonii tribe who lived in southern Scotland before the Gaels arrived. There is unverified etymological evidence that suggests the name is ultimately derived from the Brythonic word “Clōta” which is the name of a Celtic mother goddess and water deity, the patroness of the River Clyde about 2,000 years ago (the Brythonic people were Celtic, but an altogether different tribe from the Gaelic people, also Celts). We have read alternate hypotheses that Clōta either means “the famed one” or “the cleansing one”, but the conclusive meaning of Clyde remains uncertain. As an official surname, Clyde first appeared in the written records during the 15th century and was first rendered as “Clide” (around Glasgow, Scotland). As a forename, Clyde became common in Great Britain starting in the 19th century in honor of a notable British military officer from Scotland, Colin Campbell (1792-1863). For his service in the Crimean War and the Indian Rebellion of 1857, Parliament raised him to the peerage and named him 1st Baron Clyde, of present-day Clydesdale in Scotland.

All About the Baby Name – Clyde



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While Clyde is no longer a popular baby boy’s name in the United States, there was a point in time when this name enjoyed great success. It was most likely popularized by Scottish-Americans in the mid-19th century in honor of their fellow Scot Colin Campbell (aka Baron Clyde). By the late 19th century in America, Clyde was a Top 100 favorite nationwide. The name saw most of his success in the early 1900s – in fact, Clyde’s best year ever was in 1904 when he reached position #51 on the charts. The name fell off the Top 100 list in 1939 and then slowly dropped in usage from that point on (perhaps the notorious exploits of outlaw Clyde Barrow – of Bonnie & Clyde fame – in the 1930s had something to do with diminishing interest in the name). Clyde became so unfashionable by the end of the 20th century that he even fell off America’s Top 1000 list in 1999. He has yet to return to the charts in the 21st century. No longer on the American radar, Clyde is a largely forgotten name. Yet this name does maintain a “star-crossed” lovers quality – not only in the Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker true-life story, but also in the ill-fated fictional love story between Clyde Griffiths and Sondra Finchley in Theodore Dreiser’s 1925 novel, “An American Tragedy” (see literary references below). If you familiarize yourself with both of these stories, you'll quickly realize that Clyde is a bit of a "bad boy" name.

Quick Facts













The famed one; or, The cleansing one



The Master Builder


Large Undertakings




Cultural References to the Baby Name – Clyde

Literary Characters


Clyde Griffiths is the protagonist of Theodore Dreiser’s 1925 novel, An American Tragedy, made into a memorable 1951 movie called “A Place in the Sun”, with Montgomery Clift. Clyde embodies the downside of the American Dream – he comes from humble beginnings and he wants it all – fame, wealth and the Beautiful Woman. It’s just that he has no idea how to go about attaining his goals, and he certainly never entertains the notion of actually working toward them. Clyde drifts, dreamlike, along life’s pathways, succumbing to the eye-catching glitter and tinsel along the way. When he is fortuitously taken under a wealthy uncle’s wing, Clyde is finally introduced to a lifestyle that he can fully embrace. He meets the lovely (and rich) Sondra Finchley – he is bedazzled and it seems that all his dreams are about to come true. Alas, true to his nature, Clyde has also dallied with a poor factory girl, whose pregnancy forces him to take drastic steps to protect the life that lies so nearly within his grasp. Needless to say, Clyde does not do the “honorable” thing, and calamity is the result. In the end, Clyde realizes no portion of that tantalizing dream, only its nightmarish aspects.

Childrens Books


We cannot find any childrens books with the first name Clyde

Popular Songs


The Legend of Bonnie and Clyde
a song by Merle Haggard

Modern Day Bonnie and Clyde
a song by Travis Tritt

Legend of Bonnie and Clyde
a song by Tammy Wynette

Bonnie and Clyde
a song by Tori Amos

The Legend of Bonnie & Clyde
a song by Merle Haggard

The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde
a song by Georgie Fame

Right Turn, Clyde
a song by The Bloodhound Gang

a song by The Twilight Singers

Bonnie & Clyde Part II
a song by Foxy Brown [explicit]

Bonnie & Clyde II
a song by Martina Sorbara

Bad Boy Clyde
a song by Esthero

Theme from Bonnie & Clyde
a song by Flatt and Scruggs

Bonnie & Clyde
a song by Tori Amos

Famous People


Clyde "The Glide" Drexler (basketball player)
Clyde Barrow (infamous criminal)
Clyde Tombaugh (astronomer who discovered Pluto)
Clyde McPhatter (R&B singer)
Clyde Lovellette (basketball player)
Clyde "Bulldog" Turner (football player)

Children of Famous People


We cannot find any children of famous people with the first name Clyde

Historic Figures


Clyde Barrow was an outlaw, robber and murderer who roamed the Midwest during the Depression, wreaking havoc along with his girlfriend, Bonnie Parker, and other members of their gang, which included his brother and sister-in-law. The gang is believed to have murdered at least nine police officers, as well as several others between 1931 and 1934. Born one of seven to a hard-scrabble family in Texas, Clyde was soon at work as a petty thief, landing in jail from 1930 to 1932. While there he committed his first murder, a fellow inmate, and the die was cast for the rest of his short, sorry life. If it hadn’t been for the addition to the gang of his girlfriend, Bonnie Parker, Clyde’s story probably wouldn’t have gained much recognition. She added what little glamour there was to the sordid picture. Clyde died along with Bonnie in a bloody shootout by a police posse. The 1967 film, Bonnie and Clyde, romanticized their exploits and raised them to the level of cult status. One thing is for certain – Clyde Barrow was no Warren Beatty!