From Blair to Mackintosh: 15 popular Scottish surnames and their meanings

The history of Scotland is, of course, the history of the Scottish people, and what could be more important as an indicator of how Scots are perceived than by the very names we are known.

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Over the centuries millions of Scots have left their homeland to find fame and fortune around the globe, and they have taken their Scottish names with them, so giving the world McDonalds and Campbell’s Tomato Soup. Here we take a look at some of the most popular Scottish surnames and their meanings.

Derived from the Gaelic place name Blar for cleared level land or place of battlefield. Blair was first recorded as a surname in the 13th century in Renfrew and Ayrshire.

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Of Norman origin, deriving from the French word bois meaning wood and ville meaning town. The Borders place name St Boswell derives from the 7th century saint.
From the Gaelic buidhe meaning yellow haired.
Brown is the second most common surname in Scotland. English word meaning brown hair.
The name Bruce comes from the Norman family Brus who came to Scotland and were given Annandale in the 12th century by David I. Believed to have originated from the Norman place of Brix meaning willowlands.
The name is not exclusively Scottish and probably derives from the English word burn meaning stream. Surname of the famous Scottish poet Robert Burns.
The name comes from the Gaelic camsron meaning crooked or hooked nose. The clan Cameron came from the Lochaber area.
Scottish surname deriving from Angus. The name is Gaelic and means the fort in the gap. The most famous Scottish Carnegie is Andrew Carnegie, from Dunfermline who in the 19th century became one of the richest men in America.
The original surnames originated as a Norman first name, or alternatively from an Old Celtic first name Coman.
This surname originated in Lewis, although there are MacAulays from Dunbartonshire. In most cases the name comes from the Gaelic MacAmhaoibh, which is the Gaelic variant of the Norse name Olaf meaning ancestors descendant.
Name of possibly Scotlands most famous monarch. Macbeth, who ruled as king from 1040 to 1057, is forever associated with the historically inaccurate but world-renowned play Macbeth by William Shakespeare.
Scottish surname that originates in Galloway. The name means son of Art with Art the Gaelic for bear. Famous McCartneys include the Beatle Paul McCartney, who lived for a time not far from Galloway in Kintyre.
This name does not, as you might imagine, derive from the Irish surname Connel, but instead, as with the surname MacDonnell, is a variation of the surname MacDonald meaning son of Donald, or its Gaelic from Mac Dhomhnuill.
Scottish surname meaning son of Gregor. Gregor was the Scottish form or Gregory, a name that comes from the Greek meaning watchful and was a popular name for popes.
Scottish surname and clan from Perthshire and the Highlands. The name is from the Gaelic mac an toisich meaning son of the chieftain.