The Name Kelvin Meaning and Origin
While sounding like a mesh of Kevin and Melvin, the name Kelvin is actually quite old, and is an evolution from the surname Kelvin. The most likely origin is a reference to the Scottish river known as the River Kelvin, so families living in that area may have acquired the surname Kelvin. The Celtic/Gaelic meaning of the name Kelvin is “of the narrow river,” or “river man.” Some scholars believe the name may have also evolved from the Old English phrase “coelan wine,” which means “friend of ships.” This, too, obviously links the name to water.
Popularity of Kelvin
The name Kelvin did not come into use as a first name for boys until the early 20th century, thanks to the prominence of noted physicist William Thomson. Thomson received the title Baron Kelvin in recognition of his scientific achievements, and was the first scientist elevated to the British House of Lords. The Kelvin name truly came then from the River Kelvin, which ran closely to Thomson’s academic home, the University of Glasgow. Kelvin was not in the top 100 of the most popular boys names in England in 2012.
Variations of the Name
Alternate spellings for the name Kelvin are Kelvan and Kelvyn.
Famous people with the name include Kelvin MacKenzie, entrepreneur and former editor of The Sun, and British soap opera actor Kelvin Fletcher.
- Our comprehensive guide to English boys’ names