Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Owen

Owen is most often considered the Celtic/Welsh equivalent of Eugene from the Latin Eugenius, ultimately derived from the Greek “eugenēs” (Ευγενιος) meaning “well-born”. The Welsh first developed Ougein/Owain from the Old Irish-Gaelic Eogan (Owen is the modern Welsh form of the name). It was the Norman-French who brought the name Eugene to England after the Conquest of 1066. Eugenius was borne by a few early saints and four popes who helped popularize the name in earlier medieval times (see Eugene for more detail). Owen is also theorized to be derived from Eòghann, an Irish name connected with an older Celtic meaning “born of the yew”. The yew tree was sacred to the ancient Celts and revered almost as highly as the oak. They believed the yew symbolized immortality and had certain mystical power (which is perhaps why we often see the word “youth” associated with Owain in our research – from the Proto-Indo-European root *i̯eu- meaning "vital force, youthful vigor"). Indeed, Owain is an illustrious name in Welsh history borne by several royal members of various kingdoms. The most familiar Owain, however, is the one who appears in Arthurian legends – Sir Owain was one of the famed Knights of the Round Table and the husband of the Lady of the Fountain (see literary references below). Sir Owain’s legends were drawn from a real historical figure named Owain mab Urien, a Celtic prince of a northern English kingdom who battled against the Angles in the late 6th century. No matter what the etymology, one thing we can say for certain: Owen is all Welsh. Today Owen remains a top choice in Wales, but it is actually most popular in Canada. It’s also a crowd-pleaser in the United States and Ireland.

All About the Baby Name – Owen

Personality

OF THE BOY NAME OWEN

The Three energy is powerful and enthusiastic. These personalities are cheerful, full of self-expression, and often quite emotional. They have an artistic flair and "gift-of-gab" that makes them natural entertainers. Their joyfulness bubbles over, and their infectious exuberance draws a crowd. The Three personality is like a child - forever young and full of delight. They are charming, witty, and generally happy people. The Three personality lives in the "now" and has a spontaneous nature. Threes seem to live with a bright and seemingly unbreakable aura that attracts others to them. In turn, they are deeply loyal and loving to their friends and family. Luck also has a tendency to favor number Threes.

Popularity

OF THE BOY NAME OWEN

Owen was popular in the early 20th century but slowly and quietly fell from favor as the decades progressed. Enter the 21st century. Now Owen is enjoying a revival, recently weighing in at a very respectable #38 on the U.S. charts. This increase in popularity is likely a result of exposure via the personages of actor Owen Wilson and soccer player Owen Hargreaves. Also in its corner is the near impossibility of being diminished to a nickname. Charming, youthful and well-born, Owen is a gift from the spirited Welsh people.

Quick Facts

ON OWEN

GENDER:

Boy

ORIGIN:

Celtic

NUMBER OF SYLLABLES:

2

RANKING POPULARITY:

38

PRONUNCIATION:

OH-wen

SIMPLE MEANING:

Well-born; Born of the yew tree; Youthful

Characteristics

OF OWEN

Communicative

Creative

Optimistic

Popular

Social

Dramatic

Happy

Cultural References to the Baby Name – Owen

Literary Characters

OF THE BABY NAME OWEN

This title character of this 1989 novel by John Irving is afflicted with a physical condition which stunts his growth and compels him to shout when speaking, but he is clever and determined, and believes himself to be an instrument of God. As his life’s fate works its way through the years, he may be proven right.

Owen Glendower, Prince of Wales mounts the last great effort to overthrow English rule in William Shakespeare's Henry IV.

Popular Songs

ON OWEN

Owen!
a song by Lohio

Song for Owen
jazz instrumental by Harris Eisenstadt

Famous People

NAMED OWEN

Owen Wilson (actor)
Owen Hargreaves (soccer player)

Children of Famous People

NAMED OWEN

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

Historic Figures

WITH THE NAME OWEN

Owain Glyndŵr is the old Welsh name anglicized by William Shakespeare as Owen Glendower. Owen was a Welsh ruler and the last native Welshman to hold the title Prince of Wales. He instigated an ultimately unsuccessful but long-running revolt against English rule of Wales at the beginning of the 15th century (under the King Henry IV’s rule of England). Initially successful, the uprising was eventually put down. He was never captured (despite high bounties placed on his head) and disappeared in 1412. Considered one of the greatest Britons of all time, he is celebrated in Wales as a hero on par with King Arthur.