Shannon (given name)

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Pronunciation SHAN-non
Gender Unisex
Language(s) Irish
Meaning "wise river"
Region of origin Ireland
Other names
Alternative spelling Sionainn, Seanan, Siannon, Shannen, Shanon, Shannan
Variant form(s) Shan, Shanna
Nickname(s) Shan, Non
Derived Sionainn
Related names Seán
See also Shane

Shannon ("wise river") is an Irish name, Anglicised from Sionainn. Alternative spellings include Shannen, Shanon, Shannan, Seanan, and Siannon. The variant Shanna is an Anglicisation of Sionna ("possessor of wisdom").

Sionainn derives from the Irish name Abha na tSionainn for the River Shannon.[1] Because the suffix ain indicates a diminutive in Irish, the name is sometimes mistranslated as "little wise one".


The name Sionainn alludes to Sionna, a goddess in Irish mythology whose name means "possessor of wisdom". She is the namesake and matron of Sionainn, the River Shannon. Sionainn is the longest river in Ireland.[2]

Sionainn is one of seven rivers of knowledge said to flow from Connla's Well, the well of wisdom in the Celtic Otherworld (the realm of the dead). Nine sacred hazel (or, by some accounts, rowan[3]) trees grow near the well, and drop their bright red fruit in it and on the ground.[4] In the well live the Salmon of Knowledge, whose wisdom comes from eating this fruit. By eating the fruit or one of the salmon, one can share in this wisdom.


In the United States, the name first appeared on the United States's SSA[5] in 1881 for males. It later gained popularity as a feminine name in 1937. During the 1970s, American parents began to confer the name on boys and girls alike. It was during this time that the name's popularity peaked in the United States. In the 1990 United States Census, Shannon was the 317th most common name for American males.

After Shannon became a popular unisex name in the United States, Irish parents, too, began to give newborn boys this name.

People with the given name Shannon[edit]



See also[edit]


  1. ^ Campbell, Mike. "Shannon". Behind the Name. Retrieved 7 October 2012. 
  2. ^ Cooper, Aiveen (2011). The River Shannon: A Journey Down Ireland's Longest River. Cork: Collins Press. p. 6. ISBN 9781848891074. OCLC 751791624. 
  3. ^ Fuchs, Elinor; Chaudhuri, Una, eds. (2002). Land/Scape/Theater. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. p. 65. ISBN 0-472-06720-6. OCLC 49618732. Retrieved 7 October 2012. 
  4. ^ O'Grady, Standish (1878). History of Ireland: The Heroic Period. Library of English Literature. London: Sampson, Low, Marston, Searle, & Rivington. OCLC 28088025. 
  5. ^ popular name list