Lloyd is a name originating with the Welsh adjective llwyd, most often understood as meaning ‘grey’, but with other meanings as well. The name can be used both as a personal name and as a surname. The name has many variations and a few derivations, mainly as a result of the difficulty in representing the initial double-L for non-Welsh speakers, and the translation of the Welsh diphthong ŵy. Lloyd is the most common form of the name encountered in the modern era, with the Welsh spelling Llwyd increasingly common in recent times.
The vast majority of Welsh continued to use the patronymic system well into the early modern period, and the families which did use family surnames passed on from one generation to the next remained exceptional. However, the name Lloyd/Llwyd and certain other Welsh adjectives such as goch (‘red’, evolving into the Welsh surname Gough) became ‘fixed epithet’ passed on through the generations and functioned as family surnames as early as the 14th century.
The name Lloyd/Llwyd originates with the Welsh adjective llwyd, usually understood to mean ‘grey’, and can be distinguished as a ‘fixed epithet’ passed on from one generation to the next, as early as the 14th century. However, the word llwyd also has other meanings, especially if buttressed with other nouns or adjectives, such as penllwyd (brown-headed) and llwydwyn (grey-white). In addition to ‘grey’ as most commonly understood, llwyd also includes shades of brown, according to T.J. Morgan and Prys Morgan.
[...] dŵr llwyd refers to the brown waters of a river in flood, papur llwyd refers to the old-fashioned wrapping paper or ‘brown-paper’. It is very likely that when used of younger men llwyd referred to the mouse-coloured hair. But llwyd could of course be used to also refer to the grey hair of old age, and was occasionally found in compounds with gwyn (white).—Welsh Surnames
By the time the adjective llwyd became a fixed epithet and then a family name, llwyd had more or less lost its original meaning of ‘grey’. J.T. Morgan notes “… in general it is likely the adjective llwyd referred to some sort of brown hair when associated with a personal name. HBr 495 is wrong in stating ‘the third son was called David Llwyd, I presume, from his grey hair in early life’. By the time the pedigree in question had evolved, the adjective had long ceased to have the literal meaning ‘grey’."
As an adjective, llwyd also held the meaning or connotation of 'holy' during the medieval period, affecting characteristic adjective lenition. A medieval Welsh scribe, or a scribe familiar with the Welsh language, would understand that the usage of the mutated form of llwyd, that is, lwyd was employed to convey the sense of ‘holiness’. Therefore, as a surname Llwyd/Lloyd “retains the radical consonant after the persona name, masc. and fem alike.” The Anglo-Norman scribe would not be familiar enough with medieval Welsh orthography to know that ll was used for the voiceless alveolar lateral fricative and generally used l for the initial ll and its lenited version, single l, except that occasionally attempts were made to show that the sound was l with a difference.
The use of L and a knowledge that adjectives generally lenited when fixed after a persons name, have together misled textual editors into the belief that llwyd or loyd (of the English or Norman scribe) stands for the lenited form so that they have printed Lwyd in their modernized versions, ie. failing to realize that llwyd is one of the exceptions.—Welsh Surnames
Variations most often encountered illustrate the degree to which Anglo-Norman and later English scribes sought to render the sounds unfamiliar to their own diction. The voiceless ‘unilateral hiss’ was often rendered as thl or ffl, or left with a single l. Another challenge was with the Welsh diphthong ŵy ([ʊi] or [ʊɨ] approximately as in the word 'gooey' pronounced as one syllable) which was rendered by the closest English approximation oy.
Most modern variations of Lloyd/Llwyd originate in the Tudor period, and are largely ‘corruptions’ of llwyd. Variations include: Ffloyd, Flewett, Flewitt, Flood, Floed, Floyde, Flowitt, Flude, Fludd, Fludde, Flude, Fluett, Fluat, Flyd, Flyde Lide, Lhuyd, Loud, Loulld, Luyd, Llowyde, Llowyd, Lloyed, Lloilld, Llwyed, Thoyd, Thloyd, Thllewyd.
Lloyd has become the most common form of the name in all parts of Wales today, and with the double-L pronounced as a single-L (without the voiceless, ‘unilateral hiss’), and the use of a single-L in the spelling is rare. The "more correct" spelling (or the spelling more closely matching the Welsh llwyd) Llwyd had long ceased to be used as a version of the name until fairly recently, “as Lloyd has been deliberately changed to Llwyd in a number of cases in our own time.”
Derivations often added the suffix -yn to llwyd, to produce llwydwyn, which has been used as a personal name, as an epithet in tir Llwydyn (i.e. the land of Llwydyn,), Tyddyn Lloyden (Llwydyn’s Cottage), Ty-Llwydyn (Llwydyn’s House. Morgan notes that the lenition of proper name, genitive case after tŷ. ), and of course as a surname. Variations of the Llwydyn derivation include Lloydyn, Lloydin, Loidin, Loyden.
- Morgan, T.J., Welsh Surnames, Qualitex Printing Limited, Cardiff, 1985, the Orthography of Welsh Surnames 5-8, and Llwyd pgs 151–154
- Morgan, T,J and Morgan, Prys (1985). Welsh Surnames. Cardiff: Qualitex Printing Limited. ISBN 0-7083-0880-5.