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Kennedy (surname)

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Language(s)Gaelic, Irish
MeaningDerived either from Ó Cinnéide meaning grandson of Cinnédidh, or “ceann” and “éidigh”. “Ceann” comes from the Gaelic word meaning “chieftain” (a leader of a clan or tribe), and “éidigh” comes from the Gaelic word meaning “helmet”. The name can be translated to mean “helmeted chief or leader”.
Region of originIreland and Scotland
Other names
Related namesO'Kennedy and Kennedie

Kennedy, with variant forms O'Kennedy and Kennedie, is a surname of Irish and Scottish origin that has also been used as a given name.


There have been several etymologies given for the surname. One is that the name is an Anglicisation of Ó Cinnéide, which means "grandson of Cinnédidh" or "grandson of Cinnéidigh". Both of these personal names are derived from Gaelic words meaning "helmet-headed".[1] Ceanéidigh could be related to the old Gaelic name Cennétig, which is known from Cennétig mac Lorcáin, the father of the Irish high king Brian mac Cennétig, who was also known as Brian Bóruma or Brian Boru. There is an Irish Kennedy family and a Scottish Kennedy clan in Carrick, Ayrshire, which are unrelated to one another.

Another possibility is that Kennedy is an Anglicisation of the Gaelic Ó Ceannéidigh, meaning "grandson of Ceannéidigh". Ceannéidigh is a given name derived from the Gaelic words ceann, meaning "head", and éidigh, meaning "ugly" or "fierce".[2] Some etymologies also suggest that the element ceann could mean "chief" or "leader".[3]

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Members of the US Kennedy political family[edit]

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  1. ^ Neafsey, Edward (2002). The Surnames of Ireland: Origins and Numbers of Selected Irish Surnames. Irish Roots Cafe. p. 117. ISBN 0-940134-97-7.
  2. ^ "Kennedy Name Meaning and History". Ancestry.com. Retrieved 6 January 2009.
  3. ^ Harrison, Henry; Harrison, Gyda (1996). Surnames of the United Kingdom: A Concise Etymological Dictionary. Genealogical Publishing Com. p. 246. ISBN 0-8063-0171-6.

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