× Home

House of Names
Houseofnames > Knowledge Base > O' prefix
From Houseofnames.com


O' prefix

Irish patronymic surnames frequently feature the distinctive prefix O'. When these surnames were originally developed, they were formed by adding the Gaelic words O, Hy or Ui denote descendant of, [1] to the name of the original bearer's grandfather or to that of an earlier ancestor. For example, the surname O'Neil literally means descendant of Neil (Niall). While the O prefix is more commonly used today, ancient records include all of the above and have been used interchangeably.

In later times, these prefixes were also added to the occupation or nickname of the bearer's ancestor. By example, O'Riordan means descendant of the royal bard and O'Keeffe means descendant of the gentle man.

The Plantation of Ulster and the Cromwellian Invasion had a profound impact of the use of the prefix. The assimilation produced "degradation of the Gael and the inferiority complex it produced was the wholesale discarding of the distinctive prefixes O and Mac"[2]

See Also


  1. ^ John O'Hart, Irish Pedigrees (1989 reprint of 1892) Genealogical Publishing Co. Inc. (pg 37)
  2. ^ Edward MacLysaght, Irish families (1972) Crown Publishers (pg 16)
  3. ^ Swyrich, Archive materials

This page was last modified on 4 January 2011 at 15:57.

2000-2018 Swyrich Corporation. See Terms of Use for details.
houseofnames.com is an internet property owned by Swyrich Corporation.

Suggested Reading

Anderson Armorial History with Coat of Arms

Anderson Armorial History with Coat of Arms
Our Rating: Stars
The most comprehensive study of the Coats of Arms and family history all in a presentation suitable for framing.

Anderson Surname History

Anderson Surname History
Our Rating: Stars
Over 20 years of research into the family history from the earliest records, showing spelling variations, early origins, notables, settlers and much more. Suitable for framing.

The Vikings: A History

The Vikings: A History
Our Rating: Stars
"A fascinating history of the Viking age and its complex culture and influence