Inspiration sometimes is a peculiar thing. My daughter came home the other day and told me about how at school they had talked about the Danish vikings and their influence on the English language and how many of the names, both personal and place names, have special meanings to them. I decided just for fun to look at the meaning of a few Scottish names since I am just a little bit preoccupied with Outlander at the moment. I found out that some of the names used in Outlander have a specific meaning and that often it says something about the character in question, so I guess Diana Gabaldon thought this over as well while writing these great books. I don’t know this for sure, though, since I have yet to buy and read the Outlandish Companion 1+2 and so I don’t know if this is mentioned in there at all, but nonetheless here is, in no particular order, what I discovered on the internet. Not being Scottish and definitely not having any Gaelic I have relied upon some articles in The Scotsman as well as general name sites. If you are a Scottish descendant and would like to know more about your name chech out “A history of Scottish names parts 1-5” at www.scotsman.com.
It’s origin remains obscure but a French connection of some sort is almost certain. The earliest written record of the name in Scotland is from 1160 when a Simon Fraser owned some land, and all the way up through history many of the Fraser clan chiefs have been named Simon just like Jamie’s grandfather and his cousin as well.
This means “son of Kenneth” and in Gaelic Kenneth means “handsome”or “fair”. Very fitting since in Outlander the MacKenzie siblings Ellen, Colum, Dougal, Janet, Flora and Jocasta are described as having beautiful and striking features.
The name means “son of Thomas” and the biblical meaning of Thomas is twin. I thought it remarkable that Jamie uses this as an alias.
It comes from the Island of Mull and means “son of Guarie” which in Gaelic means “proud” or “noble”, and I think Taran MacQuarrie was that exactly, at least to some degree, so again a very fitting name and this time to a TV only character.
In Gaelic the name means “dark warrior” or “brown-haired warrior” and in some ways the first meaning fits nicely with Geillis Duncan and her destiny. Incidentially, it also happens to be a suitable name for the actor Duncan Lacroix who plays Murtagh so well, a brown-haired warrior if ever there was one.
In Gaelic this means “white” or “fair” and as such is the opposite of what Father Bain turned out to be. As a priest you would have thought him fairness and goodness personified. I think this might be Diana Gabaldon playing a joke on her readers.
It means “big” or “great” in Gaelic and as such it fits the book version of Angus, who was a huge fellow and in charge of physical punishments at Castle Leoch. As for the TV version … well, TV Angus is great in the funny sidekick department (“Something catch yer eye there, lass?”).
The nick-name of James, which in turn is actually a royal name. Six out of seven Scottish rulers between 1400 and 1625 bore that name (the last one was a girl, so…). I’m not surprised since in my opinion Jamie sure is The King of Men.
An Anglicised form of the Gaelic name Dubhgall meaning “dark stranger”.
This name derives from Gaelic or Pictish and means “unique choice” or “one strength” and either one fits perfectly with the book’s version of Angus. Even TV Angus is not all about fun. He is supposedly the most skilled with a knife.
It derives from the Gaelic words muir “sea” ceardach “skilled” and as such means a skilled navigator. If you’re pushing it a bit you might say that Murtagh helps Jamie navigate through all his trouble with his sceeming uncles, a wife from the future, an English officer with sadistic impulses and what not. Who wouldn’t want a Godfather like that?
Actually this is a male Irish name and means “shepherd”. I read somewhere on Diana Gabaldon’s homepage that she picked the name off a map and intially had no idea how to pronounce it.