Owen (name)

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Owen is usually an anglicised variant of the Welsh personal name Owain. Originally a patronymic, Owen became a fixed surname in Wales beginning with the reign of Henry VIII.[1] Etymologists consider it to originate from Eugene meaning 'noble-born'.[2] According to T. J. Morgan and Prys Morgan in Welsh Surnames: "the name is a derivation of the Latin Eugenis > OW Ou[u]ein, Eug[u]ein ... variously written in MW as Ewein, Owein, Ywein. LL gives the names Euguen, Iguein, Yuein, Ouein. The corresponding form in Irish is Eoghan."[2] Morgan and Morgan note that there are less likely alternative explanations, and agree with Rachel Bromwich that Welsh Owein "is normally latinised as Eugenius", and that both the Welsh and Irish forms are Latin derivatives.[2]

The Welsh name is a cognate and near-homonym of the Irish name Eógan (pronounced /'oːəun/, partially anglicised as Eoghan, as noted by Morgan and Morgan, among other spellings).[3] As such, the given name Owney is usually regarded as a diminutive of either Owen or Eoghan. However, another Irish name, Uaithne (/ˈuənʲə/, meaning 'wood', 'work', 'pillar', or 'harmony') has also sometimes been anglicised as Owney.

Owen can also be an anglicised form of the French name Ouen, as in the case of Ouen of Rouen, metropolitan bishop of Rouen, known in Latin as Audoenus, from Germanic Audwin and Aldwin with French variant form Audoin. The anglicisation of the French digraph ou to ow is common in words such as couard > coward, and Old French poueir > power, tour > tower, etc. Welsh Owain has sometimes been Latinised as Audoenus in certain parish registers, through a folk etymology process, because both Owain and Ouen/Audwin have a typical anglicised form of Owen.[2]

A relatively uncommon English surname, Owin, has also sometimes been spelt Owen.

The following notable people have Owen as a surname or first name.


First name[edit]

Fictional characters[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Patronymic Welsh Surnames".
  2. ^ a b c d Morgan, T. J.; Morgan, Prys (1985). "Owain (Owen, Bowen, Ednowain)". Welsh Surnames. University of Wales Press. pp. 172–173.
  3. ^ Ó Corráin, Donnchadh; Maguire, Fidelma (1990) [1981]. Irish Names. pp. 87–88.