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Cillian or Killian
MeaningPossibly " Little Church", "Strife" or "War"
Region of originIreland
Other names
Variant form(s)Ó Cillín, Cillian, Ceallach, Kilian, Killion, Killeen, Cilléne

Killian or Kilian, as a given name, is an Anglicized version of the Irish name Cillian. The name Cillian was borne by several early Irish saints including missionaries to Artois and Franconia and the author of the life of St Brigid.[1]

Killian, as a surname, is found in both Ireland and Germany. It was originally spelled Ó Cillín in Irish before being Anglicized into Killeen as well as Killian. Spelling variations for Killian include Kilian, Killion, and others.[2][dubious ]

The name is said to derive from Saint Kilian, an Irish missionary to Germany in the 7th century, who, according to the Acta Sanctorum, was born in Mullagh, County Cavan, Ireland c. 640. He departed for his mission to the continent with 12 apostles from Kilmacologue in the parish of Tuosist, County Kerry, Ireland.[3] In 689 he was martyred in Würzburg, Franconia, Germany, and subsequently became the city's patron saint.

The most likely meaning of the name is "little church", a reference to someone prayerful or spiritual, cill meaning "church" in Gaelic while the suffix "-ín" is used affectionately to indicate a 'pet' or diminutive status.[4] The Rev. Patrick Woulfe wrote that Cillian is the 'pet' diminutive of Ceallach which means "war" or "strife".[5]

Notable people named Cillian[edit]

Notable people named Killian[edit]

Notable people named Kilian[edit]

  • Saint Kilian, an Irish missionary bishop and the apostle of Franconia
  • Kílian Jornet Burgada, a Spanish ski mountaineer, long-distance runner, mountain biker and duathlete
  • André Kilian, a German-born footballer currently playing for North Queensland Fury
  • Crawford Kilian, a Canadian novelist and a college professor
  • Hanns Kilian (1905–1981), a German bobsledder who competed from the late 1920s to the late 1930
  • Inge Kilian (born 1935), a German high jumper
  • John Kilian (1811–1884), a Lutheran pastor and leader of the colony known as the Wends of Texas
  • Michael Kilian (1939–2005), author and journalist primarily for the Chicago Tribune in Washington, D.C
  • Victor Kilian (1891–1979), an American actor blacklisted by the Hollywood movie studio in the 1950s
  • Wiesław Kilian, a Polish politician

Notable people named Killion[edit]


Other uses[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hanks, Patrick; Hodges, Flavia (1990), A Dictionary of First Names, Oxford University Press, p. 193
  2. ^ Killian Family Crest.
  3. ^ "GENUKI: Tuosist".
  4. ^ Patrick Weston Joyce (1869). The Origin and History of Irish Names of Places, Volume 1. Retrieved 31 January 2016.
  5. ^ Patrick Woulfe (1923). "Cillian". Irish Names and Surnames. Retrieved 28 July 2011.