Colin (given name)

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Pronunciation/ˈkɒlɪn, ˈklɪn/
Meaning(1) short for Nicolas; (2) Gaelic cuilen "whelp".

Colin is an English-language masculine given name. It has two distinct origins:[1]

  1. A diminutive form of "Colle", itself an Old French short form of the name Nicolas (Nicholas). This name, but not the anglicized Gaelic name, is also found in the spelling Collin. This name is formed by the Old French diminutive -in also found in Robin.
  2. An anglicized form of the Gaelic name Cuilen, Cailean, modern Irish spelling Coileáin, meaning "whelp, cub". The Old Irish word for "whelp," is cuilén.[2] The Scottish Gaelic name is recorded in the spelling Colin from as early as the 14th century.[3] MacCailean was a patronymic used by Clan Campbell, after Cailean Mór (d. 1296).

As a surname, Colin can be derived from the given name, but can also be of unrelated (French) origin. The Irish patronymic Ó Coileáin gave rise to the surname Cullen (which is also the anglicization of the unrelated patronymic Ó Cuilinn).

Colin ranked 319th most popular name England and Wales in 1996 and 684th most popular in 2014.[4] It has been moderately popular in the United States and was listed in the top 100 boys names in the U.S. in 2005.[5] In Scotland it ranked 302 in 2014,[6][7] but in Ireland it is more popular, ranking 88th in 2006.[8]

In the US, Colin has peaked in 2004 at rank 84, and has substantially declined since (rank 196 as of 2016). The form Collin reached the peak of its popularity somewhat earlier, at rank 115 in 1996, and has declined to rank 298 as of 2016. Taken together, the names Colin and Collin accounted for 0.16% (about 1 in 620) of boys named in the US in 2016, down from 0.4% (one in 250) in 2004.[9]

People called Colin[edit]

Medieval and early modern[edit]




Fictional characters[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Te Reo: Journal of the Linguistic Society of New Zealand, Volume 29 (1986), p. 280.
  2. ^ Electronic Dictionary of the Irish language, s.v. "cuilen": culían, -é(o)in, -íoin, -íuin, -én, -ian, coileán, cuilen, cuilenu, cuilen "pup, whelp, cub; kitten". It is used as a "laudatory term of warriors" in Old Irish, e.g. Táin Bó Cúalnge v. 1932 (bruth ┐ barand in chulíuin se (sc. Etarcomul).
  3. ^ Transactions of the Gaelic Society of Inverness, Inverness Gaelic Society, vol. 22 (1900), p. 158. "Cailean or Colin appears in Gaelic about 1400–1450 as Cailin; in charters it is Colin as far back as 1300–1400, then the name of the earliest Campbells, a South Perthshire name, probably a dialect form for the older Culen or (Latinised) Caniculus, whelp."
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  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-03-27. Retrieved 2008-03-19.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
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  9. ^,