My question is about etymology of the name "Glen".

Question 1: What is the meaning and root of the name "Glen"?

Question 2: In which regions of Britain is the name "Glen" more frequent to use?

Question 3: Is there any relevance between the name "Glen" and "Gael" people? For example can we consider "Glen" as an abbreviation for the "Gaelean" (a person from Gael people)?

  • 1
    @TimLymington: I mean every use of this word.
    – user57667
    Nov 24, 2013 at 13:46
  • 1
    I've never heard of the word at all. Can you provide an example of published usage?
    – Andrew Leach
    Nov 24, 2013 at 14:10
  • @TimLymington@Andrew: Excuse me. I corrected the spelling error.
    – user57667
    Nov 24, 2013 at 14:25
  • It's originally a Gaelic word gleann meaning 'valley', a common surname in Scotland and Ireland in a variety of forms such as Glen, Glenn, Glinn, Glynne, Glennie. Since the 19th century it has also been used as a given name. It is to be found all over the English-speaking world in both uses. Nov 24, 2013 at 14:47
  • The etymology of ‘glenn’ is uncertain (beyond Old Irish glenn/glend), but it is certainly not related to the name ‘Gael(ic)’. That is a modern Irish and/or Anglicised spelling of Old Irish goídel and (modern) Scottish gàidheal. This word is most likely a borrowing from Primitive Welsh originally, cognate with the Irish Fianna and the Fenians (warriors), probably originally either ‘forest-dwellers’ (vr̥ddhi formation based on PIE *u̯idʰu- ‘tree’) or ‘the others’ (from the PIE root *u̯ei̯dʰ- ‘separate, cleave’, same root as ‘widow’ and ‘(di)vide’). In any case, gleann has no d. Nov 24, 2013 at 15:30

1 Answer 1

  1. Glen is a Gaelic word. It is gleann in both modern Scots Gaelic and modern Irish, and glion in modern Manx, but came into English in the Middle English period.

  2. It is found throughout Ireland, Scotland and Man, most often originating as translations of Irish, Scottish Gaelic or Manx names with gleann (or Old Irish glenn) in them, but also as more modern coinages. The Welsh glyn also appears in some Welsh names, but it's a bit further removed and has an /ˈɡlɪn/ pronunciation rather than /ɡlɛn/.

  3. No. The Gaels are the people who are associated with the Gaelic languages, which today would be Irish (gaeilge), Scottish Gaelic (gàidhlig) and Manx (gaelg or gailck) but would also include the older languages of Middle Irish and Old Irish that today have no native speakers. As a people, it would include those descended from speakers of these languages who do not speak them (such as e.g. myself, who speaks only English, though the dialect I speak has some influences from Irish). The normal adjective and demonym is Gaelic not Gaelean, this latter I've come across only once in a rather dubious context. The only connection with glen is that glen is a Gaelic word, just as dale is an English one and valley originally a French one. Gaelic is also used of things particularly associated with Irish, Scottish or Manx culture, such as standing as a noun in Ireland for the Gaelic football (one of the Gaelic games along with hurling/camogie, Gaelic handball and rounders).

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