Owen (name)

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Owen is usually an anglicized 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]

It is a cognate and near-homonym of the Irish name Eógan (pronounced /'oːəun/).[3] As such the given name Owney is usually regarded as a dimunitive of either Owen or Eógan. However, another Irish name, Uaithne (/ˈuənʲə/), meaning "wood", "work", "pillar" or "harmony", has also sometimes been anglicized as Owney.

Owen can also be an anglicized form of Ouen of Rouen, metropolitan bishop of Rouen, known in Latin as Audoenus from Germanic Aldwin, Audwin, French variant form Audoin. The anglicization of the French digram ou in ow is common in words such as couard > coward; Old French poueir > power, tour > tower, etc.

A relatively uncommon English surname, Owin, has also sometimes been spelt Owen. (The following notable people have Owen as a surname or first name.)


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  1. ^ "Patronymic Welsh Surnames".
  2. ^ Morgan, T. J. and Morgan, Prys, Welsh Surnames, University of Wales, 1985, "Owain (Owen, Bowen, Ednowain)". According to T. J. Morgan in Welsh Surnames (pp. 172–173) the name is a derivation of the Latin Eugenis > [Old Welsh] Ou(u)ein, Eug(u)ein..."variously written in [Middle Welsh] as Ewein, Owein, Ywein. LL gives the names Euguen, Iguein, Yuein, Ouein. The corresponding form in Irish is Eoghan." Morgan notes that there are less likely alternative explanations and agrees with Dr Rachel Bromwich that Welsh Owein "is normally Latinized as Eugenius", and both the Welsh and Irish forms are Latin derivatives. Additionally, another latinized variations of the name Owain is Audoenus in certain parish registers, because Audoenus is the latinized form of the Germanic first name Audwin, Audoin, called Ouen in French and an anglicized form is Owen
  3. ^ Ó Corráin, Donnchadh and Maguire, Fidelma. Irish Names (1981, 1990). 87–88.