Ryan Name Meaning

Lastest Updated March 12, 2024
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This article interprets Ryan name meaning, its etymology, name variations, popularity, and more. This information will help you understand the ins and outs of the name Ryan in the simplest and clearest way.

More than that, I won’t stop at providing the meaning of Ryan but will give you fascinating suggestions about middle and sibling names for Ryan. Remember to read to the end of the article since I’ll also answer your questions about this name.

The Name Ryan
Let’s clear up your confusion regarding the name Ryan in this article.

The Overview Of The Name Ryan

Have a look at the overview of the name Ryan here before you move to the upcoming detailed parts below.

MeaningThe most common meaning of Ryan is “little king” or “illustrious”.
OriginRyan can be traced back to Irish origins. It comes from the surname Anglicized from Ó Riain, meaning “descendant of Rían”.
GenderRyan used to be a masculine name, but nowadays, many girls bear this name. So, it’s a unisex name.
PopularityRyan remained in the top 20 most common male names from 1976 to 2009. In 2021, it was ranked 66th for boys and 495th for girls.
Name variationsRyanne, Ryann, Ryana, Reagan, Regan, Riagán, etc.
Nicknames Ryo, Anry, Rion, Rhino, Renzo, etc.
Similar NamesBryan, Rylan, Rohan, Raven, Kylen, etc.
Middle NamesFor Sons: Knox, Ernest, Romeo, Rafael, Rory

For Daughters: Jane, Blakely, Esther, Camilla, Jennifer 
Sibling NamesFor Sons: Colin, Ashton, Peyton, Colton, Zachary 

For Daughters: Ailee, Kallan, Carly, Ruby, Emma 

What Does Ryan Mean?

Ryan (pronounced as rye-uhn) comes from the Irish name Rían, composed of rí, meaning “king”, and a diminutive suffix -án. Its meaning, therefore, translates to “little king”. Some people also indicate that Ryan also means “illustrious”.

The Origin Of The Name Ryan

Ryan has been used for a very long time, so it’s challenging to trace back the exact origin of this name. However, most sources agree its origin is Irish.

It can stem from the Irish surname Ryan, Anglicized from Ó Riain, which means “descendant of Rían”. As mentioned above, the name Rían means “little king”. Thus, you can also understand the meaning of the name Ryan as “descendant of the king”. (1)

Is Ryan A Boy’s Or Girl’s Name

Ryan was traditionally a masculine name. However, more parents would like to name their daughters Ryan today. That makes it become a name suitable for both genders.

The Popularity Of The Name Ryan Over Years

Ryan has been a popular name in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Ireland for years. That said, in the United States, Ryan remained a rare name until the release of the epic film Ryan’s Daughter in 1970.

This name climbed up and stayed at the top 20 most common male names for 33 years (from 1976 to 2009). Its recent rank fell to 66th in 2021, but it’s still a trending name.

As a girl’s name, the statistics show it was ranked the 495th most popular name for girls in 2021 and peaked at 342nd in 1986. (2)

Name Variations For Ryan

The most common spelling equivalent of the name is Rian. Besides, there are plenty of derivatives of Ryan, such as:

  • Ryanne (English)
  • Ryann (English)
  • Ryana (English)
  • Reagan (English)
  • Regan (English)
  • Riagán (Irish)
  • Ríoghán (Irish)
  • Ríona (Irish)
  • Ríonach (Irish)
  • Ríoghnach (Irish)
  • Riacán (Irish)

Awesome Nicknames For Ryan

Are you looking for adorable nicknames for Ryan? Here are some options that you can consider.

  • Ryo
  • Anry
  • Rion
  • Rhino
  • Renzo
  • Ori
  • Rizza
  • Ryder

Similar Names For Ryan

I’ll give you more name recommendations that are pronounced closely to the name Ryan. All of them are beautiful names with two syllables.

Similar Names For Ryan
Figure out two-syllable names that have similar pronunciations to Ryan.
Bryanbry-uhnHigh, noble, strong, or virtuousIrish and British
Rylanrai-luhnIsland meadow or land where rye is grownIrish and English
Rohanroh-uhnRed-haired or ascendingHindi, Sanskrit, and Irish
Ravenray-vuhnRaven, dark haired, or wiseEnglish
Kylenkay-lihnNarrow or straightGaelic
Reubenroo-buhnBehold or a sonHebrew
Ewanyoo-uhnBorn of yew, God is gracious, or youthWelsh and Scottish
Evaneh-vuhnThe Lord is gracious, rock, good messenger, or good manCeltic, Welsh, Greek, and Hebrew

Melodic Middle Names For Ryan

If you have decided on Ryan as a first name for your child, there are some suggested middle names you can consider.

For Sons

The name Ryan can blend incredibly with one or multiple-syllable names. You can take a look at my suggestions here.

  • Knox: It comes from a Scottish surname with two different origins. Knox can be developed from the Scottish Gaelic word cnoc, which conveys “a hillock” or “a hump”. On the other hand, it can come from the Old English cnocc, meaning “a round-topped hill”.
  • Ernest: Reminiscent of the famous novelist Ernest Hemingway, Ernest is a strong name for every boy. The name is of German origin meaning “serious”, “determined”, “resolute”, or “battle to the death”.
  • Romeo: Romeo will call people’s attention every time they hear it since the name is strongly associated with the well-known character in William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet. Many said it’s an Italian male name indicating “pilgrim to Rome” or “a Roman citizen”.
  • Rafael: Rafael has roots in the Hebrew masculine name Raphael, which denotes “God has healed”. Saint Raphael is an Archangel known for standing before the throne of God. In Islam, he is called Israfi, an angel depicted with a trumpet on his lips.
  • Rory: This gender-neutral name is also an Irish boy’s name, like Ryan. It combines ruadh, meaning “red” and rígh, which conveys “king”. Thus, its meaning is “red king”. The name strongly associates with Rory O’Conor, the last High King of Ireland.

For Daughters

Various feminine middle names are perfect for girls with the first name Ryan. Here are a few of them.

  • Jane: Jane can be an English variant of the Old French name Jehanne, ultimately derived from the Hebrew Yochanan. Parents can understand the meaning of the name Jane as “God Is gracious” or “God is merciful”.
  • Blakely: Blakely originates from an English surname composed of blæc (“black”) and leah (“woodland clearing”). So, its meaning can be interpreted as “dark woodland”, “woodland clearing”, “of the dark clearing”, etc.
  • Esther: Esther is a Persian girl’s name referring to “star”. Besides, it’s also a Hebrew name and carries the meaning of “hide” or “conceal”. In the Hebrew Bible, Queen Esther had the birth name Hadassah, but it was changed to Esther to cover her true identity.
  • Camilla: The origin of this name is uncertain. It can be a feminine alternative to camillus, a word for a young cult officiant, and has the origin of Etruscan. Some explain its meaning can be “helper to the priest”, “young ceremonial attendant”, etc.
  • Jennifer: This common name is the Cornish variant of Guinevere, the name of King Arthur’s wife. Its meaning can refer to “the fair one”. In the modern world, this name makes others think about the singer Jennifer Lopez or the actress Jennifer Lawrence.

Gorgeous Sibling Names For Ryan

It’ll never go wrong when choosing one of these names for Ryan’s siblings. Most of them are two-syllable names like Ryan and carry excellent meanings.

Names For Ryan
Finding sibling names for Ryan is no longer difficult since you’ve got this list.

For Brothers

Here are a few name options fitting for Ryan’s future brothers. They are classic names used for a long time.

  • Colin: Colin is Anglicized from the Gaelic name Cuilen and Cailean, referring to “whelp” or “cub”. Or it can be an Old French short version for Nicolas. In popular culture, this name appeared in various artworks, including Harry Potter, The Secret Garden, Ip Man 4: The Finale, etc.
  • Ashton: It’s an English name for both genders and indicates “ash tree town”. The name has become widely used in the United States due to the popularity of the actor Ashton Kutcher, who gained a People’s Choice Award and many other accolades.
  • Peyton: Peyton is of English and Irish origin, meaning “fighting man’s estate” or “warrior’s estate”. People usually link it with the name of the Founding Father of the United States, Peyton Randolph (1721–1775).
  • Colton: This name is the combination of the Old English cola, meaning “coal” and tun, which conveys “settlement. Its meaning can be explained as “coal town”, “coal settlement”, or “swarthy person”.
  • Zachary: “God has remembered” is what this Hebrew name translates to. Its original form is Zachariah, the name of the eleventh of the Twelve Minor Prophets and the author of the Book of Zechariah.

For Sisters

Let me introduce you to some feminine names that go well with Ryan and have meaningful interpretations.

  • Ailee: Ailee is a variant of the Greek female name Helen, bearing the meaning of “torch” or “light”. Amy Lee or Ailee, an American singer, based in South Korea, received Melon Music Awards, Seoul Music Awards, Golden Disc Awards, etc.
  • Kallan: Developed from the Irish surname Ó Cathaláin, Kallan conveys “battle”, “rock”, or “powerful in battle”. Furthermore, the name also has its root in Scandinavian and refers to “flowing flower”. That’s why Kallan is a feminine but strong name for girls.
  • Carly: If you want a name that inspires the free spirit of your little queen, Carly can be a great option. It’s a German female name and implies “free woman”, “warrior”, or “army”.
  • Ruby: Ruby is well-known as a jewel-inspired name that was incredibly popular in the late Victorian era. Ruby is ultimately taken from the Latin rubinus, referring to “precious red stone”. In addition, the ruby is well-known as a birthstone of July.
  • Emma: It was the second most popular feminine name in 2021. Rooted from the Germanic word ermen, Emma denotes “whole” or “universal”. There is a long list of notable women named Emma throughout history, notably Emma of Normandy, queen consort to two kings.

Ryan In Pop Culture

Undeniably, the success of the film Ryan’s Daughter made the name Ryan common. Besides, many hit artworks contributed to the popularity of this name.

  • Ryan Laserbeam: True’s best friend in the sitcom True Jackson, VP
  • Ryan Atwood: A teenager portrayed by Ben McKenzie in the TV series The O.C
  • Ryan Hardy: A former FBI agent portrayed by Kevin Bacon in the series The Following
  • Ryan Sinclair: A character portrayed by Tosin Cole in the series Doctor Who
  • Ryan Stone: A female astronaut portrayed by Sandra Bullock in the film Gravity
  • Ryan Lavery: A father in the drama All My Children

Famous People Named Ryan

One of the name bearers who brings the name to light is Ryan Reynolds (born in 1976), best known for the performance of Deadpool. Let’s discover other famous people named Ryan.

  • Ryan Murphy (born in 1965): American television writer and producer
  • Ryan Gosling (born in 1980): Canadian actor who received Golden Globe Award
  • Ryan Seacrest (born in 1974): American media personality
  • Ryan Adams (born in 1974): American singer-songwriter
  • Ryan Blaney (born 1993): American professional stock car racing driver
  • Ryan Newman (born 1998): American actress
  • Ryan Shamrock or Alicia Webb (born 1979): American former professional wrestling valet


I’ve compiled and answered some frequently asked questions concerning the name Ryan. Take a look if you want to learn more about this name.

Some theories mention that Ryan can be derived from the Irish word rían for “water”. So Ryan can also mean “water”.

It could be after the 1970s that more parents chose the name Ryan for their girls. Ryan was the 982nd most popular girl’s name in 1974, but it rose to the 368th spot four years later in 1978.

Ryan can be an Arabic name. It can have the same spelling and pronunciation as in English since its phonetic is similar to the Arabic name Rayyan. Nevertheless, in Arabic, it doesn’t mean “little king” but “watered”, “luxuriant”, and “plentiful”.

There are several locations bearing this name in the United States. One of them is the incorporated community of Ryan in Oklahoma. This town was named in honor of Stephen W. Ryan, an Arkansas rancher who settled in Ryan in 1875.

People with the name Ryan are workaholics. They are well-organized people who usually set targets and work hard to fulfill all of their life goals. Their weaknesses may be that they tend to be strict with themselves and a little traditional.

Ryan Is A Majestic Name For Little Rulers

With the meaning of “little king”, Ryan is a short yet powerful name that evokes a sense of nobility. This name will remind future rulers always to wear their crowns, be confident, and believe in themselves.

If you find this post supportive, share this post to let others know this information. You can comment below the article to let me know your thoughts about this name. Thank you for reading. I’ll see you next time. Goodbye!


  1. En.wiktionary.org. 2022. Ryan – Wiktionary.
  2. Social Security. 2022. Popularity of a Name.
Helen Doanna

Helen Doanna

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