Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his February 15th column, he looks at the history of the name Conor.
Conor is the modern form of ancient Irish Conchobar, from “con” (dog) and “cobar” (desiring, liking). In Irish myth Conchobar mac Nessa is a king of Ulster. His mother, Ness, convinces her husband, King Fergus, to make 7-year-old Conchobar nominal king for a year to cement his royal status. Ness makes such wise decisions for her son that Ulster’s nobles keep him king permanently. As an adult, Conchobar wins a war against Queen Medb of Connacht when she attempts to steal Ulster’s famous stud bull.
Conner is an English surname from Old English “cunnere” (“examiner”), indicating one’s ancestor was an inspector of measures in alehouses. It’s often been confused with Conor. Many American Conner families are probably O’Connors in disguise.
Connor first beat Conor as the top spelling in 1986 — probably because of the film “Highlander.” Christopher Lambert starred as Connor MacLeod, an immortal Scottish swordsman battling foes who can only be killed by beheading. “Highlander” was a cult hit, spawning several sequels.
Connor boomed, peaking at 38th in 2004. Conner had a smaller upswing, reaching 127th in 2005. Conor’s 1993 peak, at 232nd, is linked to Eric Clapton’s song “Tears in Heaven,” inspired by the death of his young son Conor in 1991.