Ryan comes from an Irish surname, a shortened form of O’Ryan which itself is the anglicized form of Gaelic Ó Riagháin (or Ó Riain) meaning “descendant of Rian”, a name of uncertain etymology though the most popular suggestion is that it is made up of Irish meaning “king” combined with a diminutive suffix, so the name essentially means “little king”. However, rían is also an Old Irish word meaning “sea, ocean”,  “course, way, path”, and “way, manner”. Ryan could also be a shortened form of Mulryan, the anglicized form of Ó Maoilriain meaning “descendant of Maoilriain”, the latter referring to a follower of Rían.

Though Ryan is a male name, in the U.S. it’s had some usage as a female name as well.

Origin: Proto-Indo-European



  • Rian (English)
  • Rían (Irish)
  • Rion (English)


Female forms:

  • Ryanne (English)
  • Ryann (English)
  • Ryana (Engish)
  • Ryanna (English)


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