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Meaningof noble birth
Other names
Variant form(s)Caoimhín, Kevan, Kevyn

Kevin (/ˈkɛvɪn/) is the anglicized form of the Irish masculine given name Caoimhín (Modern Irish: [ˈkiːvʲiːnʲ]; Middle Irish: Caoimhghín [ˈkəiṽʲʝiːnʲ]; Old Irish: Cóemgein [ˈkoiṽʲɣʲinʲ]; Latinized as Coemgenus). It is composed of caomh "dear; noble";[1] Old Irish cóem and -gin ("birth"; Old Irish gein).[2]

The variant Kevan is anglicized from Caoimheán, an Irish diminutive form.[3] The feminine version of the name is Caoimhe (anglicised as Keeva or Kweeva).


Saint Kevin (d. 618) founded Glendalough abbey in the Kingdom of Leinster in 6th-century Ireland. Canonized in 1903, he is one of the patron saints of the Archdiocese of Dublin. Caomhán of Inisheer, the patron saint of Inisheer, Aran Islands, is properly anglicized Cavan or Kevan, but often also referred to as "Kevin".

The name was rarely given before the 20th century.[3] In Ireland an early bearer of the anglicised name was Kevin Izod O'Doherty (1823–1905) a Young Irelander and politician; it gained popularity from the Gaelic revival of the late nineteenth century, with Kevin Barry and Kevin O'Higgins prominent in the Irish revolutionary period. Later it was "widely adopted throughout the English-speaking world",[3] surging in popularity during the 1950s. The sudden rise in popularity may[original research?] be tied to actor Kevin McCarthy, who first became famous with Death of a Salesman (1951). In the United States the name's popularity peaked at rank 11 in 1963. It has steadily decreased in popularity since then, but is still given with moderate frequency, at rank 89 as of 2016.[4] Kevin fell out of the US Top 100 the following year and now ranks at Number 156.[5] The name followed a similar trajectory in the United Kingdom, gaining popularity in the 1950s, peaking in the 1960s, gradually declining in the 1970s to 1980s, and falling out of the top 100 most popularly given names by the 1990s.[6]

Oxford's A Dictionary of First Names suggests that anglicized Kevin may have influenced the adoption of Kelvin (in origin a river name) as a modern given name, which peaked in popularity at about the same time, albeit to a much lesser extent (peaking at rank 209 as of 1961 in the US).[7]

In non-English-speaking Europe, the name picked up popularity in the 1980s via such American pop culture figures as actor Kevin Costner, singer Kevin Richardson, and, most prominently, Kevin McCallister, Macaulay Culkin's character in the Christmas comedy film Home Alone.[8] "Kevin" was notorious for being extremely popular among lower-class parents during the end of 1980s to 2000s.[8] The name peaked markedly in the early 1990s, reaching first rank in France (sometimes spelt Kévin) during 1989–1994,[8] during 1991–1992 in Switzerland and in 1991 in Germany.[citation needed] In German markets, Home Alone was released as "Kevin – Allein zu Haus".[citation needed] Especially in Germany, the name became associated with low social status, an attitude popularised in German journalism based on a 2009 master thesis on primary teachers' reactions to children's given names.[9] Kevinismus has become German short-hand for negative social preconceptions about trendy or exotic names.[10][11]



See also


  1. ^ "cáem". Irish Language Dictionary. Archived from the original on 13 August 2017. Retrieved 21 May 2017.
  2. ^ "gein". Irish Language Dictionary. Archived from the original on 13 August 2017. Retrieved 21 May 2017.
  3. ^ a b c A Dictionary of First Names. Oxford University Press (2007) s.v. "Kevin".
  4. ^ Campbell, Mike. "Popularity for the name Kevin". Behind the Name. Archived from the original on 7 July 2017. Retrieved 21 May 2017.
  5. ^ "Kevin: Name Meaning, Popularity, and Similar Names".
  6. ^ donnah. "Baby names in England and Wales - Office for National Statistics". Archived from the original on 16 June 2017. Retrieved 21 May 2017.
  7. ^ A Dictionary of First Names. Oxford University Press (2007) s.v. "Kelvin".
  8. ^ a b c Chrisafis, Angelique (5 August 2022). "We need to talk about Kévin: French namesakes fight national mockery". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 August 2022.
  9. ^ "Oliver Trenkamp Ungerechte Grundschullehrer: Kevin ist kein Name, sondern eine Diagnose". Spiegel Online. 16 September 2009. Archived from the original on 7 May 2017. Retrieved 21 May 2017.
  10. ^ Katrin Pribyl, "KEVINISMUS" Wie Namen die Zukunft von Kindern beeinflussen Archived 2016-09-19 at the Wayback Machine, Welt, 26 February 2008.
  11. ^ Sarah Zhang, [The Strange German Disease Called "Kevinism": Can a Lame Name Mess Up Your Life?], Discoblog (, 1 February 2012. "Kevinometer: Kennen Sie das Kevinismus-Risiko Ihrer Lieblingsnamen?" ( Archived 2017-05-08 at the Wayback Machine

External links