Deirdre is the name of a tragic heroine in Irish legend, which is why she’s known as Deirdre of the Sorrows. Before she was born her beauty was foretold by a druid, a beauty that would only bring strife and sorrow as kings and lords would go to war over her. King Conchobhar (Connor) decided to have her raised in seclusion so that, when she came of age, he would marry her despite the age difference between them though things clearly didn’t work out that way. Deirdre fell in love with a warrior, Naoise, and eloped with him. Conchobhar wasn’t too pleased with this and eventually tricked the couple into coming back, having Naoise and his brothers killed. Versions of Deirdre’s death differ with some saying she died of grief, or that she killed herself. The etymology behind the name is uncertain. It comes from an older Gaelic form, Derdriu. It may possibly be derived from a Celtic word meaning “woman” or it could be made up from Old Irish deir (says) and draoi (druid; magician, wizard) from Proto-Celtic *druwits (tree knower) derived from Proto-Indo-European *doru (tree) and *weyd- (to know; to see); so the name essentially means “foretold by the Druid”, in reference that Deirdre’s beauty was foretold by a druid before her birth. It may also come from Old Irish *der- (daughter) and *dér- (teardrop) meaning “daughter of tears” or “daughter of sorrows”, likely in reference to her tragic story.

Origin: Old Irish, Proto-Indo-European



  • Derdriu (Old Irish)
  • Deidre (English)
  • Deidra (English)
  • Deitra (English)
  • Deirdra (English)


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