Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Regan

Regan, like Reagan, is technically unisex but Americans pretty much stopped using this particular spelling for boys around 1980. We now consider Regan essentially female. Most people legitimately assume Regan is merely another spelling of the Irish surname Reagan (from the Gaelic clan Ó Riagáin) and they probably wouldn’t be wrong. The Irish personal name Riagáin comes from the Gaelic "riodhgach" meaning “impulsive” (along with the Irish diminutive suffix “-áin”, Riagáin specifically means “little impulsive one”). The Ó Riagáins were well established in medieval Irish kingdoms and important because they were very active against the Viking invaders. However, aside from Regan’s clear connection to Reagan, she also has a fair amount of literary cachet. Regan is the name of one of King Lear’s two treacherous daughters in his masterpiece tragedy “King Lear” (1605). The play is based on the legendary Leir, an ancient King of the Britons, so many historians believe the names used in Shakespeare’s tragedy have some unknown Celtic origin. King Lear actually has three daughters (Goneril, Regan and Cordelia), the latter being the “good” one. Much speculation has been made about the meanings of the girls’ names but nothing definitive has been concluded. Perhaps Regan could be tied to “regn” which is the Olde English word for “rain” in reference to the raging storm into which Regan callously sent her father when he came looking for shelter in her home. Lastly, as a female name, Regan could be tied to the Gaelic “ríogan” (pronounced ree-gan) which means “queen”. In summary, Regan is slightly more multifaceted than Reagan as a girl’s name.

All About the Baby Name – Regan



The number Nine personality represents the completion or ending of the cycle, and a need for perfection. This is the personality that moves from "self" to a greater understanding and compassion for the human condition and the world order. They want to make the world a better place. Nines are capable of great spiritual and humanitarian achievements. They are courageous and fearless, able to fight great battles on behalf of worthy causes. These personalities will not tolerate injustice. They are compassionate people with a strong sensitivity to others. They are able to both educate and inspire. Friendships and relationships are the lifeblood to the Nine, and they place a high value on love and affection. Nines are often exceptionally gifted artistically, and they have a keen imagination and enterprising mind.



Although the name Regan appeared in Shakespeare’s tragic play over 400 years ago, the name didn’t appear on the American naming charts until 1974. Ironically, and you may find this hard to believe, Regan appeared on the female charts the year following the release of the classic horror film “The Exorcist” (Dec. 1973) – a film which centers upon 12-year-old Regan McNeil who is possessed by demons. Apparently the spinning head and demonic voices did little to dissuade parents from bestowing the name on their own daughters. And this isn’t unusual; we have other examples of creepy horror-film kids whose names haven’t been rebuffed in usage: Samara (The Ring); Damien (The Omen) and Gage (Pet Sematary). Regan is no exception. By the 1980s, however, Regan disappeared from the Top 1000 list for a while and then returned again in 1991. The height of her popularity was achieved in 2001 at position #390 on the charts, but today she’s been replaced by the more popular and more gender-neutral Reagan. Raegan is also another newly invented and Americanized respelling in competition for usage. Not only is the Regan spelling the most minimalistic, but it’s also the only one with literary distinction. Yes, we know, King Lear’s daughter Regan was evilly duplicitous but what’s so wrong with an early 17th century villainess? We have so few “bad girls” from which to choose baby names. We don’t mind a gal with a tough edge.

Quick Facts











RAY-gin or REE-gin












Cultural References to the Baby Name – Regan

Literary Characters


Regan is the second of Lear’s three daughters in Shakespeare’s classic tragedy, King Lear, written between 1603 and 1606. The unremitting bleakness of the play and its expose of the wages of sin are personified by the evil that is Regan. She is tied with her sister, Goneril, for pure cussedness. First, she falsely fawns over her father in order to get a larger share of his kingdom, and he, of course, is fool enough to fall for it. That accomplished, she turns her back on her father, denying him his servants and legions and driving him out into a storm. She turns up when Gloucester meets his doom, egging on the villain to gouge out his other eye. She, although married, harbors sexual longings for Edmund (as does Goneril), and is ready to do anything to have him. Everyone gets what is coming to him or her in this tragedy, and Regan is no exception. She dies by being poisoned by Goneril, and we’re sorry to say we’re not sorry to see her go!

Regan MacNeil is the unfortunate 12 year old girl who is possessed by demons in William Friedkin’s 1971 novel, The Exorcist, which was made into a 1973 movie starring the young Linda Blair (often called the scariest film of all time). No one who has read the novel and/or seen the movie is exempt from the spine-tingling, hair-raising, general overall creepiness they inspired. A sweet pre-adolescent at the story’s onset, Regan is soon turned into a howling, writhing, obscenity spewing, head-turning, pea soup vomiting, form changing, murderous little monster. And that’s just the beginning. There isn’t much that this little girl leaves unsaid or undone in the realm of the occult. Luckily for her and her long-suffering mom, the most esteemed Catholic exorcist priest in the world comes to the rescue. After a lot of really unpleasant exchanges between the priest and the demon(s), peace is restored and Regan reverts to her pre-Satan sweetness. But really – would you ever trust this girl again?!

Popular Songs


We cannot find any popular or well-known songs with the name of Regan

Famous People


Regan Smith (racecar driver)
Regan Upshaw (football player)

Children of Famous People


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

Historic Figures


We cannot find any historically significant people with the first name Regan