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Quick Facts on Donovan

  • Gender:
  • Boy
  • Origin:
  • Celtic, Gaelic, Irish
  • Number of syllables:
  • 3
  • Ranking popularity:
  • 281
Simple meaning:
Little dark prince

Characteristics of Donovan

  • Dependable
  • Solid
  • Practical
  • Hard-working
  • Industrious
  • Studious
  • Conservative

Etymology & Historical Origin - Donovan

The name Donovan is the transferred use of an Irish surname originating as Donnabhán, the son of Ceallachán, a 10th century Munster King. Donnabhán is the combination of the Gaelic words "donn" meaning ‘brown’ or ‘princely’ and “dubh” meaning ‘black’ plus the diminutive suffix "an" suggesting it may have originated as a nickname meaning ‘little dark one’ or ‘little dark prince’. The original homeland of the Donovans was County Limerick, southern Ireland, around the River Maigue. After the Norman invasion in 1066, the Donovans moved south to County Cork where they amassed a lot of territory and became chieftains of the small independent kingdom of Carbery. They were considered a noble race of people. The first recorded occurrence of the name was rendered O'Donnabhain in the 12th century. Probably the most notorious Donovan to come out of Ireland was Jeremiah O'Donovan (1831-1915), also referred to as Rossa. For more on O’Donovan Rossa, see Historic Figures below. As a given name, Donovan dates back to the early 1900s and was also given a push in popularity in the 60s by the folk-rock singer Donovan.

Popularity of the Name Donovan

The name Donovan entered the U.S. popularity charts right at the turn of the 20th century, in the year 1900. In the next 60 plus years, the name would grow ever so slowly in usage. Between the years 1964 and 1969, Donovan managed to jump 400 places up the charts in those six years alone. This increase in usage coincided with the musical success of Donovan, one of the most talented British recording artists of his day. He produced a series of hit albums and singles between 1965 and 1970 – right when American parents were seriously responding to his name. The peak popularity of the name Donovan came at the turn of the 21st century. Between 2002 and 2007, Donovan managed to claw his way onto the Top 200 list of most commonly used males names. Although Donovan has never achieved super-popularity, it has done quite well given its distinct Irish flavor and its off-beat quality. This is not a mainstream choice by any means. It’s so Irish by nature; we have a hard time seeing this name on any boy who’s at least not one-quarter Irish. Americans have been responding to Gaelic-influenced names in recent decades, and they also like the Surnames as Forenames trend. Donovan is a great choice for a little boy descended from the “Black Irish” so you can refer to him as your “Little Dark Irish Prince.” For the same reason, it’s also a thoughtful choice for African-Americans (think: football star Donovan McNabb).
Popularity of the Boy Name Donovan
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Cultural References to the Baby Name - Donovan

  • Literary Characters of the baby name Donovan

    Literary Characters of the Baby Name Donovan

    Donovan We cannot find any significant literary characters with the first name Donovan.

  • Popular Songs on Donovan

    Popular Songs on Donovan

    Donovan - a song by Happy Mondays

  • Children's Books on the Baby Name Donovan

    Children's Books on the Baby Name Donovan

    Dog Donovan (Diana Hendry) - The seven Donovans are all scared of something, be it the dark, spiders, night noises, doctor's shots, or even, in the case of the youngest Donovan, one's own shadow. To find a dog to protect them, they visit an animal shelter, where they choose Hero, a huge, gangly cross between a wolf hound and a Great Dane. Hero, alas, proves even more fearful than the Donovans. Fortunately, in comforting their bumbling pet, family members learn to cope with their own terrors. Old Woman Donovan bravely shoos away a spider, and young Hercules reassures the trembling dog, "A shadow is nothing to be scared of. Look! I can make mine dance!" Though the plot is simple and predictable, Hendry's (Double Vision) dry wit and Chamberlain's (A Piece of String Is a Wonderful Thing) spry watercolors suggest the endearing bustle and bedlam of the Donovan home. Children may not understand the humor of Dad Donovan's phobia of "letters in window envelopes," but they will surely enjoy Dog Donovan's small triumphs. Recommended for ages 4-8.

    Donavan's Word Jar (Monalisa Degross) - A gentle, thoughtful story of a young African-American boy's discovery of the power of words. Each time a word strikes Donavan as special (e.g., extraterrestrial, orchestral, perseverance, boisterous); he writes it down on a slip of paper and puts it in a jar. When his collection no longer fits in its container, he asks several people (Mom, his teacher, Dad, Grandma) what to do, but in a serendipitous way comes upon the solution himself. While visiting his Grandma, the other senior citizens in her building find that reading the words they pull from the jar is just what they need to cheer them up, and Donavan realizes the pleasure of sharing. While this book is not a fast-paced page-turner, the 10 chapters are short, and an appealing black-and-white illustration appears in each one. This title builds readers' vocabulary in a palatable way, and could be used in conjunction with a lesson on using the dictionary. Recommended for ages 7-10.

    Donovan McNabb: Leader on and Off the Field (Tom Robinson) - Donovan McNabb is one of the most accomplished quarterbacks in the National Football League. In his amazing career, he has helped lead the Philadelphia Eagles to several division titles and many exciting playoff victories. Off the field, McNabb works for many charitable causes, including the American Diabetes Association (ADA), for which he is a national spokesman. Recommended for ages 9-12.

    Donovan's Big Day (Leslea Newman) - Donovan's two moms are getting married and he can't wait for the celebration to begin. After all, as ring bearer, he has a very important job to do. Any boy or girl with same-sex parents—or who knows a same-sex couple—will appreciate this picture book about love, family, and marriage. The story captures the joy and excitement of a wedding day while the illustrations show the happy occasion from a child's point of view. Recommended for ages 4-8.

    Donovan's Shoes (Tamala J. Coleman) - Donovan's Shoes Are Missing! Can you help Donovan find them? Join Donovan and his playful puppy Teddy on their adventure to piece together the mystery. Will they find his shoes, or will Donovan discover something even more important? Recommended for ages 4-8.

  • Famous People Named Donovan

    Famous People Named Donovan

    Famous People Named Donovan - Donovan (Scottish singer-songwriter and guitarist); Donavon Frankenreiter (musician/surfer); Donovan Leitch (actor); Donovan McNabb (football player)

  • Children of Famous People Named Donovan

    Children of Famous People Named Donovan

    Famous People who Named their Son Donovan - Charisma Carpenter (actress)

  • Historic Figures

    Donovan - Boy Baby Name - Historic Figures

    Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa (Sep 1831 - 29 Jun 1915) - O’Donovan Rossa was a prominent member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood dedicated to the establishment of an "independent democratic republic" in Ireland, and which also aimed to liberate Ireland from British rule “by force of arms" in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He was exiled to America where he and his group carried out the “dynamite campaign” which were the first ever bombings of English cities by the Irish nationalists. In America he was one of the leaders of the Fenian Brotherhood which was named after the “Fianna” - small, semi-independent warrior bands in early Ireland who lived apart from society in the forests as mercenaries, bandits and hunters, but could be called upon by kings in times of war. After the English bombings, Great Britain tried to extradite O’Donovan back to England for punishment to no avail (America had granted political amnesty to these Irish bad boys). A mentally unstable Englishwoman tried to assassinate O’Donovan in New York, but he survived the gunshot wounds. He would die at the age of 83 in Staten Island, but his body was sent back to his motherland. His graveside oration, given by Pádraig Pearse, remains one of the most famous speeches of the Irish independence movement. It ended with the lines: "They think that they have pacified Ireland. They think that they have purchased half of us and intimidated the other half. They think that they have foreseen everything, think that they have provided against everything; but, the fools, the fools, the fools! — They have left us our Fenian dead, and while Ireland holds these graves, Ireland unfree shall never be at peace."

Personality of the Boy Name Donovan

The number Four personality is marked by stability and discipline. This is the personality that follows the rules and is conservative by nature.  They have an earth-bound energy that prefers to build things methodically on top of firm foundations; they don't cut corners. Fours take their time and don't like to be hurried. But the outcome of their endeavors is likely to result in some strong and useful structure, which makes them great engineers and inventors. Fours are anything but frivolous or controversial. This is a trustworthy, straight-forward personality that embodies dedication and organization. They are the backbone and anchor in their relationships, careers and communities. They are tidy, punctual, and full of integrity. Hard-work comes naturally to a Four and they are immensely reliable. This is the personality you can always count on.

Variations of the Baby Name - Donovan

  • No Variations Found.
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