[ 2 syll. a-lan, al-an ] The baby boy name Alan is pronounced as AEL-ahN (English) †. Alan is used chiefly in the Breton, English, German, and Scottish languages, and it is derived from Celtic origins. The name is of the meaning little rock; harmony, peace. Alanus (Latinized) is an old form of Alan. The name is of debated origin; it could be from 'ailin', which is from 'al', or else it could be from 'alun' (meaning harmony, peace). The French form Alain could also be from the tribe of the Alans, an Iranian people who migrated into Europe around the 4th and 5th centuries. The name was borne by a 5th-century saint in Brittany, and was consequently popular there. It was later brought to England by Normans such as Alan, Earl of Brittany, a Breton follower of William the Conqueror. The name became fairly popular in medieval times, but it later saw a decline in use until a revival along with other medieval names in the 19th century. Forms such as Allan and Allen usually represent transferred use of the surnames. In literature, it is borne by one of Robin Hood's Merry Men, Alan-a-Dale, as well as Alan Breck in Robert Louis Stevenson's novel Kidnapped (1886). The name Alana (English) and the name Alanda (English) are the female forms of Alan.
The name Alan is used to a great extent; it has 38 variants that are used in English and other languages. Variants used in English include Ailan, Alaen, Alain (used in French too), Aland, Alando, Alane, Alani, Alann (used in Scottish too), Alanson, Alen (used in Scottish too), Alin, Allaen, Allain (used in French too), Allayne, Allen (used in Scottish too), Alley, Alleyn (used in Scottish too), Alleyne, Allon (used in Scottish too), Alon, Alun (used in Welsh too), Alune, Alyne, Alynn, and Arana. Other English forms include the contraction Al, the pet form Allie, and the variant spellings Allan (used in German, and Scottish too), Allin (used in Scottish too), Allyn (used in Scottish too), and Alyn (used in Scottish too).
Alan is a classic favorite. At present it is still popular as a baby name for boys, though not to the extent it was before. The name's popularity jumped from the 1900s up to the 1950s; before that, it was of occasional use only. At the modest peak of its usage in 1951, 0.439% of baby boys were given the name Alan. Its ranking then was #40. The baby name has since experienced a fall in popularity. In 2012, its usage was 0.113% and its ranking #170, but it was nonetheless the most popular out of all boy names in its group. In 2012, Alan was twice as popular as the next most popular name, Allen.
† Pronunciation for Alan: AE as in "at (AE.T)" ; L as in "lay (L.EY)" ; AH as in "mud (M.AH.D)" ; N as in "knee (N.IY)"
Details of famous persons named Alan:
Actor Alan Alda, born Alphonso D'Abruzzo, 28 January 1936, New York, New York.
Actor Alan Arkin, born 26 March 1934, New York, New York.
Actor Alan Ladd, born 3 September 1913 - 29 January 1964, Hot Springs, Arkansas.
Actor Alan Young, born Angus Young, 19 November 1919, North Shields, England.
Astronaut Alan Shepard, born 18 November 1923 - 21 July 1998, East Derry, New Hampshire.
Author A.A. Milne, born Alan Alexander Milne, 18 January 1882 - 31 January 1956, London, England.
Author Alan Moore, born 18 November 1953, Northampton, England.
Author Ross McWhirter, born Alan Ross McWhirter, 12 August 1925 - 27 November 1975, Winchmore Hill, London, England.
Economist Alan Greenspan, born 6 March 1926, New York, New York.
Filmmaker Alan J. Pakula, born 7 April 1928 - 19 November 1998, New York, New York.