About Names: Dr. Evans on the name “Dylan”

Man singing and playing guitar on a crowded stage, drummer sitting beside him and audience on the floor in front of him.

Nobel laureate Bob Dylan singing in the Opinião night club in Brazil (Photo: Public Domain)

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his July 2nd column, he discusses the name “Dylan”.

Did you watch Dylan help his team win the College World Series?

LSU outfielder Dylan Crews (born 2002) won the Golden Spikes Award for best amateur baseball player June 25, the day before the Tigers beat Florida to win 2023’s CWS. Last year Ole Miss pitcher Dylan DeLucia won the CWS Most Outstanding Player award leading his team to a CWS title in 2022. Today he pitches for the Cleveland Guardians.

Dylan’s a modern name with an ancient origin. The Mabinogion, Welsh legends compiled from oral traditions around 1175, tell of Dylan ail Don, who at his baptism plunges into the sea, swimming away like a fish. Experts think Dylan was originally a Welsh sea god whose name meant “toward the tide.”

There’s no evidence Dylan was a baby name in Wales before 1910, when Welsh nationalists discovered it. The first census example, Dylan Mostyn Wathen, born 1910, lived with widowed innkeeper mother Hannah in Ystradgynlais in 1911.

The Dylan who spread the name worldwide was born 1914 in Swansea to Jack Thomas and wife Florence. They were fluent Welsh speakers who knew Dylan’s first syllable was pronounced “dull” in Welsh. Florence, afraid of teasing, insisted “dill” be used when English was spoken.