Tuesday, December 23, 2014


My husband was recently quite unwell. What I at first thought was just a typical bout of “Man Flu” turned out to require a visit to the Doctor – which he hates – so that’s when you know he’s really not well.

But what has this got to do with today’s name? Well, the Doctor we saw had the first name Conway. I took note for a couple of reasons, the first being that it isn’t a name you hear every day. But also that it is the surname of one of my husband’s bosses, and since he only refers to him as Conway I found it slightly amusing that he was seeing a Doctor with the same name as his boss. So it was already stuck in my head when I saw it come up in a recent birth announcement post on Names For Real. I like to think it was a sign that it would be a good time to look a little closer at Conway.

Pronounced KAHN-way, Conway hails from the UK, with various claims stating it is an Irish/ Welsh/ Gaelic/Celtic name.  It’s here that getting an exact meaning gets a little confusing. It seems that Conway means ‘hound of the plain’ to the Irish, coming from similar roots as the much more popular Connor (meaning ‘lover of hounds’). To the Welsh it is a place name, coming from the name of the River Conwy which is thought to mean ‘holy water’ or possibly ‘chief river’.

Indeed, Conway is a place name in many parts of the world. Plenty of places in the U.S are named Conway, as well as a river in New Zealand, a National Park in Australia and a coral reef in Fiji.

But so far this is one surname/place name that hasn’t had the same huge surge in popularity as many other names of this type making the jump to first names.  This could be set to change though.  In the U.S. Conway has experienced rises in popularity for the past 8 years. However the rise has been slow – in 2013 he was still a long way outside the top 1000 at position #2883. And Conway is so far uncharted for girls.

Yes, Conway could be seen as a fresh option for girls. While the few Conways that spring to mind are male – such as American Country musician Conway Twitty, American football player and coach Conway Hayman, Australian musician Conway Savage, British mathematician and scientist Conway Berners-Lee or even the fictional Pokemon trainer – young musician Conway (born Kassia Conway) could help parents see Conway as a viable girls name.

Conway feels like an approachable but somewhat dignified name. I can see it in the same league as Spencer or Thatcher, but with an added dash of roguish swagger. It's also great way to honour a Con (or Con related name) in your family tree. With the popularity of Connor it may be just a matter of time until Conway creeps into the top 1000 (or not) - use it now and you'll be ahead of the pack.

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