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PronunciationEnglish: /ˈrɔːri/ ROR-ee[1]
Language(s)Celtic languages (Gaelic)
Meaningred king
Region of originIreland; Scotland
Other names
Related namesRiordan, Roderick, from Ruairi (Ruaridh, Ruaidhrí, Ruairí, Ruairidh, Ruaraidh, Ruaidhrígh, "Ruari")

Rory is a given name of Gaelic origin. It is an anglicisation of the Irish: Ruairí/Ruaidhrí and Scottish Gaelic: Ruairidh/Ruaraidh[4] and is common to the Irish, Highland Scots and their diasporas.[5] The meaning of the name is "red king", composed of ruadh ("red") and rígh ("king").[6]

In Ireland and Scotland, it is generally seen as a masculine name and therefore rarely given to females.[7]


An early use of the name in antiquity is in reference to Rudraige mac Sithrigi, a High King of Ireland who eventually spawned the Ulaid (indeed, this tribe are sometimes known as Clanna Rudhraighe). Ruadrí mac Domnall was the grandfather of famous Scottish king Macbeth and the eponymous founder of Clann Ruaidrí (House of Moray).[8] Throughout the Middle Ages, the name was in use by various kings, such as Ruaidrí mac Fáeláin, Ruaidrí na Saide Buide and Ruaidrí Ua Conchobair, the last High King of Ireland. As well as this, Ruairí Óg Ó Mórdha, the famous King of Laois, and his nephew Ruairí Ó Mórdha, who was a leader in the Irish Rebellion of 1641, held the name, and Ruaidrí Ó Domhnaill, King of Tyrconnell of the O'Donnell dynasty who was deeply involved in the saga known as the Flight of the Earls.

Rory has seen increasing use in females since the early 2000s, especially in the United States, where it became among the top 1000 female baby names in 2003. As of 2022, Rory ranked 280th in popularity for males and 335th for females in the US.[2] A similar trend can be observed in Canada, where the name has seen increasing use in females since 2001 and especially 2015.[3]

Rory can alternatively be a nickname for "Aurora" or "Lorelai".


The standard Scottish Gaelic pronunciation is /ˈruə̯.rʲɪ/, and in Munster Irish /rəiˈrʲiː/. In English, it is typically pronounced as English: /ˈrɔːri/ (ROR-ee).[1] In Classical Gaelic, the name was written Ruaidhrigh, and in Old Irish Ruaidríg /ruaðʲr͈ʲiːʝʲ/ (Proto Celtic *roudo-riks). There are numerous other recorded variations of the name such as Ruaidrí, Ruaidhrí, Ruairdhrí, Rhuairidh, Ruaridh, Rhuari, Rhuaridh, Ruarídh, Ruarí, Roighrí, Rauridh or Raighrí. Historically, it has also been anglicised by replacement with the Germanic names Roderick and Roger, particularly the former.[9]

Old Irish Modern Irish Scottish Gaelic Modern Scottish English
Ruaidhrí Ruairí Ruairidh Ruaridh Rory

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  1. ^ a b "How to pronounce Rory". Retrieved 21 April 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Popular Baby Names". The United States Social Security Administration. 7 October 2022. Retrieved 7 October 2022.
  3. ^ a b "Baby Names Observatory". Statistics Canada. Retrieved 1 November 2023.
  4. ^ Martin-Doyle, Katie (1999). Treasury of Baby Names. Cambridge: Worth Press. p. 220. ISBN 978-1-903025-11-6. Anglicised form of the Irish Gaelic names Ruaidhri, Ruari, and the Scottish Gaelic Ruairidh and Ruaraidh
  5. ^ Hanks, Patrick; Hodges, Flavia (1996). Learn about the family history of your surname. ISBN 0-19-280050-7. for the given name "Rory".
  6. ^ McLaughlin, Sean (1 May 2023). Celtic Names: Their Meaning, History and Mythology. Arcturus Publishing. ISBN 978-1-3988-3279-4.
  7. ^ "Baby Names of Ireland - CSO - Central Statistics Office". Retrieved 4 June 2021.
  8. ^ Jackson, Kenneth Hurlstone (2 March 1972). The Gaelic Notes in the Book of Deer. Cambridge University Press. p. 111. ISBN 978-0-521-08264-8.
  9. ^ Talbot, Henry Fox (1847). English Etymologies. John Murray. p. 427.