Ian Name Meaning

Baby crawling on a blanket outside

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Ian is a strong but sweet name that also evokes a sense of whimsy and charm. Another benefit of the name is its easy spelling.

Ian is of Scottish Gaelic origin and is the Scottish version of the name John. It comes from the Hebrew name Yohanan and means "God is gracious" or "the Lord is gracious." Ian can also be spelled Iain. The name is imbued with a sense of history and Scottish heritage, while also feeling fresh and lively. Ian confers a sense of intelligence, kindness, honor, and grace.

  • Origin: Ian is a Scottish name of Hebrew origin meaning "God is gracious."
  • Gender: Typically, Ian is used as a boy name.
  • Pronunciation: ee-un

Although many baby names are separated by gender, Verywell Family believes that sex does not need to play a role in your name selection process. It’s important to select a name that you feel suits your new baby the best.

How Popular Is the Name Ian?

Ian is a consistently popular name for American boys. According to the Social Security Administration's list of the top 1000 baby names, Ian has been in the top 100 names for the past 40 years. The name has been steadily used since the mid-20th century.

In 2000, it was ranked 73 and has held its position fairly evenly since then. In 2020, the name had dropped slightly to the rank of 83. Ian is not commonly used as a name for baby girls, but that, of course, does not mean it can't be. In addition to being a popular name in America, Ian is a commonly used name in other English-speaking countries including England, Wales, and Scotland.

Name Variations

The following are possible variations of the name Ian:

  • Ean
  • Eann
  • Eion
  • Iann
  • Iain
  • Ion
  • John
  • Jon

Similar Names 

Similar sounding names to Ian include the following:

  • Colin
  • Colson
  • Connor
  • Don
  • Dylan
  • Edgar
  • Elise
  • Ethan
  • Keenan
  • Kieran
  • Marin
  • Teigan

Other Scottish boy names include the following:

  • Alastair
  • Archibald or Archie
  • Avery
  • Blaine
  • Bruce
  • Bryson
  • Cameron
  • Davis
  • Duncan
  • Elliot
  • Finley
  • Gordon
  • Harris
  • Kennedy
  • Lindsay
  • Maxwell
  • Paton
  • Rory
  • Sinclair
  • Tavish

Other boy names starting with I:

  • Iakavos
  • Ibrahim
  • Ignacio
  • Igor
  • Ikram
  • Immanuel
  • Indigo
  • Isaac
  • Isaiah
  • Ismael
  • Issa
  • Ivan
  • Izaiah

Suggested Sibling Names 

Looking for a sibling name for Ian? Here are some popular options:

  • Adam
  • Amy
  • Alex
  • Audrey
  • Emma
  • Edmund
  • Henry
  • India
  • Iris
  • Isabel or Isabelle
  • Josephine
  • Matthew
  • Michael
  • Molly
  • Noah
  • Oliver
  • Sarah
  • Scott
  • Violet
  • Walter

Famous People Named Ian 

Some notable people who are named Ian include:

  • Ian Agol, American mathematician
  • Ian Brown, English singer in the English rock band The Stone Roses
  • Ian Callaghan, English soccer player who played for Liverpool and was inducted into the British order of chivalry, the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire
  • Ian Cole, American professional hockey player who won the Stanely Cup with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2016 and 2017
  • Ian Fleming, English author of the "James Bond" spy novels
  • Ian Hornak, American artist known for being a founder of the hyperrealist movement
  • Ian McEwan, British author of such novels as "Amsterdam" and "Atonement"
  • Ian McKellen, iconic English actor

More Baby Names

Still searching for the perfect baby name? Check out these related baby name lists for even more options: 

1 Source
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Social Security Administration. Popular baby names.

By Sarah Vanbuskirk
Sarah Vanbuskirk is a writer and editor with 20 years of experience covering parenting, health, wellness, lifestyle, and family-related topics. Her work has been published in numerous magazines, newspapers, and websites, including Activity Connection, Glamour, PDX Parent, Self, TripSavvy, Marie Claire, and TimeOut NY.