Merlin is a key figure in Arthurian legend, a sorcerer who is Arthur’s closest adviser and ally. It comes from Welsh Myrddin meaning “sea fortress” made up from Proto-Celtic elements *mori (sea) and *dūnom (stronghold, rampart). The name was Latinized into Merlinus by Geoffrey of Monmouth because its regular form, Merdinus, was similar to the Anglo-Norman word merde that meant excrement. Myrrdin Wyllt is a figure in Medieval Welsh legend, depicted as a madman after a battle in which his lord was killed, who went to live in the forest with the animals and received the gift of prophecy. Interestingly enough, this Myrrdin was the same person Geoffrey of Monmouth took and conflated with his character of Merlin.
Merlin is also the name of a species of falcon though the origin of the name comes from Old French emerillon, esmerillon (merlin, small hawk) via Old Frankish *smiril (falcon, hawk) via Proto-Germanic *smirilaz (falcon; merlin). Merlin is also a surname.
Origin: Proto-Indo-European, Proto-Germanic
- Merlyn (English)
- Myrddin (Welsh)
- Merlinus (Latin)