Barry (name)

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Barry is both a given name and a surname. The given name is an Anglicised form of several Irish personal names, whilst the surname has numerous etymological origins, and is derived from both place names and personal names.

Origin of the name

The given name Barry is an Anglicised form of various names stemming from the Irish names Finnbarr ("fair-topped", "fair-haired") and Barrfind ("fair-headed", "fair-haired").[1] For example, Barry is sometimes derived from the Irish Bairre, Barra, and Barre, which are in turn forms of the name Barrfind.[2] Furthermore, Barry is sometimes an Anglicised form of the Irish Finnbarr, which also has short forms of Bairre, Barra, and Barre.[3] Similarly, Barry is sometimes an Anglicised form of the latter short form Barra.[4] In other cases, Barry is an Anglicised form of the Irish Berach ("pointed", "sharp").[5] The given name Barry is one of many names, used throughout the world, that is derived from Gaelic.[6] Since the twentieth century, the name has become very popular in Australia. A variant form of the given name is Barrie. Pet forms of the name are Baz and Bazza.[7] Barry is both a given name for males and a surname, being the English form of the Irish names Bareth (short for Fionnbharrth), Barra, Barrath, Barenth, Barold, Bearrach, Barizard or Finbarr.

The surname Barry has numerous origins. In some cases it is an Anglicised form of the Irish Ó Beargha, meaning "descendant of Beargh". The byname Beargh means "plunderer" or "spear-like". In other cases Barry is an Anglicisation of the Irish Ó Báire, meaning "descendant of Báire".[8] The personal name Báire is a short form of the Irish names Bairrfhionn[9] and Fionnbharr.[8] In other cases Barry is a patronymic form of the personal name Henry.[9] In such cases, the name is partly derived from the Welsh ap, as is the case of the similar surname Parry, which is in turn derived from the Welsh ap Harry.[10] In other cases, the surname Barry is derived from a place name, sometimes seemingly of Continental origin,[11] and sometimes derived from a British place name, such as Barry, Angus in Scotland.[12] The surname Barry, when borne in Ireland, is chiefly derived from the name borne by the Anglo-Norman de Barry family.[13] In Irish, this family's name is rendered de Barra. In Ireland, the surname Barry is most common in Munster and south Leinster. The concentrations of the surname in County Limerick could correspond with the Ó Beargha origin of the name, whilst the concentration of the surname in West Cork could correspond with the Ó Báire origin.[14]

As a given name, Barry currently is less common than it once was. It rose in usage during the 1930s and 1940s, and was in the top 100 names through the 1970s. In recent years, the name has not even made the top 1000 list of names (the last time was in 2004, where it ranked 963). Barry's highest rank was 61, which was achieved in 1962.[15]

People with the surname

People with the given name

Fictional people with the given name

People with the nickname

  • Nickname in his youth for Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States [16]

Non-humans with the name

See also


  1. Ó Corráin; Maguire (1981) pp. 29, 101.
  2. Ó Corráin; Maguire (1981) p. 29.
  3. Hanks; Hardcastle; Hodges (2006) pp. 28, 342; Ó Corráin; Maguire (1981) p. 101.
  4. Hanks; Hardcastle; Hodges (2006) pp. 28, 342.
  5. Ó Corráin; Maguire (1981) p. 31.
  6. Hanks; Hardcastle; Hodges (2006) p. xvii.
  7. Hanks; Hardcastle; Hodges (2006) p. 28.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Reaney; Wilson (1995) p. 30; Barry Family History (n.d.).
  9. 9.0 9.1 Barry Family History (n.d.).
  10. Reaney; Wilson (1995) p. 339; Barry Family History (n.d.); Parry Family History (n.d.).
  11. Reaney; Wilson (1995) p. 30.
  12. Reaney; Wilson (1995) p. 30; Black (1971) p. 57.
  13. Reaney; Wilson (1995) p. 30; MacLysaght (1972) pp. 52–54.
  14. de Bhulbh (1997) p. 136.
  15. "Popularity and Meaning of Barry",, Babynametrain, archived from the original on 18 July 2011, retrieved 31 August 2011 |chapter= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. Ramos, Constance F. (24 September 2008). Our Friend Barry: Classmates' Recollections of Barack Obama and Punahou School (Softcover ed.). ISBN 978-0-557-01815-4.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>