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Quick Facts on Tristan

  • Gender:
  • Boy
  • Origin:
  • Celtic
  • Number of syllables:
  • 2
  • Ranking popularity:
  • 97
Simple meaning:
Sad, tumult

Characteristics of Tristan

  • Inspirational
  • Highly Intuitive
  • Spiritual Teacher
  • Extremely Bright
  • Uplifting
  • Truth-seeker

Etymology & Historical Origin - Tristan

Tristan, like the older version of the name Drustan, dates back to early medieval times originating from Celtic legend, most notably as the hero of a popular tragic/romance story known as “Tristan and Isolde.” There are several variations of the narrative, but we’ll give you the abridged version. After the fall of the Roman Empire (6th century), the King of Cornwall, Mark, sends his nephew Tristan to fetch his future bride, Isolde, an Irish princess. Once Tristan reaches Isolde, the two inadvertently drink a love-potion that was meant for Isolde and Mark on their wedding night. Of course, Tristan and Isolde fall madly in love as a consequence, which infuriates the king. The stories diverge greatly from here, but in many cases in the end, Tristan dies of grief without Isolde by his side and she is left swooning over his grave. Our research shows differing etymological origins for the name Tristan. Many think the name was influenced by way of the French, from the Latin word “tristis” which means sad, in reference to the young man’s tragic fate. Tristan has also been linked with the Picts (a now-defunct Celtic tribe that emerged at the time of the Gaels in Scotland), and their commonly used given name Drest/Drust, a diminutive of Drustan. The Celtic word “drest” means ‘riot, tumult’ which is also in keeping with Tristan’s calamity. The popular legend also inspired a 19th century opera, “Tristan und Isolde,” composed by Richard Wagner.

Popularity of the Name Tristan

The name Tristan debuted on the U.S. popularity charts in the year 1971. Despite the somewhat ancient history of the name, Tristan has only been on the American radar for two generations now. There are probably two primary reasons for this recent popularity. First, the growing trend in Celtic-inspired names has brought Tristan more to the forefront. Second, the name makes its most significant jump on the popularity charts from 1994 to 1995. This was clearly influenced by the movie, “Legends of the Fall,” wherein Brad Pitt portrays the wildly captivating character Tristan Ludlow. Don’t be fooled by the “sad” etymology of the name. Tristan is a bright and friendly boy’s name loaded with personality. It appears the name intends to stay on the Top 100 list for a while now. It’s also a favored choice among Canadians.
Popularity of the Boy Name Tristan
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Cultural References to the Baby Name - Tristan

  • Literary Characters of the baby name Tristan

    Literary Characters of the Baby Name Tristan

    Tristan (Celtic Legends) Descended from many different traditions and literary cultures, the doomed-love story of Tristan and Isolde that resonates most strongly with us is from the Celtic legend, transcribed by Thomas of Britain in the 11th century and thereafter woven into the commonly known medieval romance that appears in Sir Thomas Malory’s Arthurian tales. Tristan is a young nobleman and the nephew of King Mark of Cornwall, who sends him to Ireland to escort the beautiful Isolde back to him, Mark, to be taken in marriage. Due to the (somewhat) accidental ingestion of one of those omnipresent medieval love potions, Tristan and Isolde unwittingly, i.e., innocently, fall in love. Although Isolde marries King Mark, she and Tristan continue their unsanctified affair, until discovered by Mark. While he keeps Isolde as his wife, he banishes Tristan from the country. Tristan subsequently marries another, but after falling gravely ill, he sends for Isolde and asks her to come to him. He tells her that if the returning ship’s sails are white, he will know she is coming; if black, he knows she is not. His wife, in her own understandable distress, sees the white sails approaching and tells Tristan that they are black. Tristan dies of grief and Isolde, upon her arrival and knowledge of this fact, dies of a broken heart herself. A classic tale of love, honor and duty, this legend has stayed with us for centuries, kept alive not only by the famous Arthurian legends, but also by poetry, fiction, and opera.

  • Popular Songs on Tristan

    Popular Songs on Tristan

    Tristan - a song by Dead Can Dance

    Tristan - a song by Patrick Wolf

    Tristan und Isolde - an opera by Richard Wagner

  • Children's Books on the Baby Name Tristan

    Children's Books on the Baby Name Tristan

    Captain Tristan Am I (Michael Sharp) - Captain Tristan has hoisted his pirate flag and come to free the world's children from the vile clutches of the Greebly Greeb Grommels. Recommended for ages 9-12.

    Tristan & Isolde: The Warrior and the Princess: A British Legend (Jeff Limke) - From an ancient legend comes a love story for all time. Strong and brave, Tristan is the nephew of King Mark of Cornwall and one of his finest English knights. Mark sends Tristan to Ireland to bring home the king's bride, the princess Isolde. While in Ireland, Tristan slays a dragon and wins Isolde's hand for his uncle. But through a twist of fate, Tristan and Isolde fall in love on the voyage back to Cornwall. Will Tristan and Isolde each do their duty as a loyal knight and a promised bride? Or will they follow their hearts and risk many dangers to be together? Recommended for ages 9-12.

    Tristan's Bedtime Story (Caroline Formby) - Grandma's bedtime story helps Tristan go to sleep and teaches us about the origins of life on earth and evolution. Recommended for ages 3-7.

    Tristan's Temper Tantrum (Caroline Formby) - Awakening from a thousand year slumber, baby Tristan finds that nobody wants to play with a bad-tempered volcano. Recommended for ages 3-7.

  • Famous People Named Tristan

    Famous People Named Tristan

    Famous People Named Tristan - Tristan Wilds (actor); Tristan Murail (French composer)

  • Children of Famous People Named Tristan

    Children of Famous People Named Tristan

    Famous People who Named their Son Tristan - Alan Bates (actor); Janet Jones (actress); Natasha Henstridge (model/actress); Wayne Gretzky (hockey player)

  • Historic Figures

    Tristan - Boy Baby Name - Historic Figures

    Tristan - We cannot find any historically significant people with the first name Tristan.

Personality of the Boy Name Tristan

The number 11 is a Master Number, and embodies heightened traits of the Two. This personality is on a life journey to find spiritual truth. They are extremely idealistic and intuitive. Elevens have a rare and exceptional spiritual energy that brings a sense of obligation to illuminate the world around them. It's a very powerful responsibility, but these people have far more potential than they know. It's important that they surrender to higher ideals. They have the capacity to see the bigger picture, and they possess the skills to inspire others spiritually. Elevens have strong diplomatic skills and can become great peacemakers. Master numbers can be both a blessing and a curse, as they walk the fine line between greatness and the potential for self-destruction.

Variations of the Baby Name - Tristan

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