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Kennedy Name Meaning – What Does The Name Kennedy Mean?

What does the name Kennedy Mean? In this quick guide, we will explore the origin, history, popularity, and meaning of the name Kennedy. Let's get started.

What does the name Kennedy Mean? In this quick guide, we will explore the origin, history, popularity, and meaning of the name Kennedy. 

Let’s get started. 

Meaning of The Name Kennedy

The name Kennedy is of Celtic origin, and it means “headland” or “helmeted chief.” It is a popular Irish surname derived from the original O’Kennedy sept, which was based in County Galway.

Kennedy has been used as a masculine forename since the 19th century in honor of assassinated president John F. Kennedy. From its surname roots, Kennedy has come to represent an evocative sense of bravado and confidence among young people who bear the name. It is often associated with strong family connections and a friendly personality.

Yet despite this positive characterisation, some may refer to those wearing the Kennedy name as arrogant or overly ambitious. Kennedy first appeared on the U.S. male popularity charts for baby names in 1948, shortly after President John F. Kennedy took office and stepped into the spotlight of American politics.

The popularity of both spellings climbed steadily over the next two decades until reaching peak positions near 1973 shortly after his assassination in 1964; after which interest decreased before resurging again briefly in 1983 when Patrick J. Kennedy was elected to Congress at age 22 – one of three Kennedys on Capitol Hill that year with other notable members including Ted Kennedy and Joe Kennedy II who had also recently joined congress at that time

History and Origin of The Name Kennedy

The name Kennedy is of Gaelic origin and is an Anglicized form of the Irish surname Cennédig. The name originates from an old Irish personal name, ‘Cennétig’, meaning “head of a clan, leader”, and was borne by a 10th century King of Munster. The Kennedy family are descended from the Ua Cinnéide dynasty in County Clare and have played a prominent role in Irish history.

The Kennedy family have been involved in politics since the 16th Century when the founder’s brother, Hugh O’Kennedy (Lord Bophin) became Lord President of Connacht. In more recent times, Senator Robert F. Kennedy (son of Joseph P. Kennedy) was best known for his liberal political views, hosting several debates during his presidential campaign in 1968 and becoming an iconic figure in American history.

Today’s Kennedys can be found all over the world, with more than 3 million individuals counted as part of their extended family worldwide.

They are heavily involved in politics, business and entertainment industries; founding many prominent organizations such as The Peace Corps and Special Olympics to name just two examples.

Gender of The Name Kennedy

The name Kennedy is most commonly associated with an Irish surname, derived from the anglicized form of the Irish Ó Cinnéidigh (“descendent of Cennétig”). This was a Gaelic surname belonging to an ancient and powerful clan that hailed from Coolderry in Offaly (formerly County Kings). The form “Kenedy” was brought to Ireland by the Normans in 1172.

There is debate as to whether the name ‘Kennedy’ should be considered a unisex name due to its popularity among both male and female individuals. Regardless, it is more commonly used as a boy’s name and has been traditionally given to male children historically.

The gender breakdown of those named Kennedy in the U.S. according to Social Security Administration records indicates that just over 12% are female, and around 88% are male; however, this data does not include births outside of the U.S., meaning that gender ratio will not reflect worldwide trends accurately.

Popularity of The Name Kennedy

The name Kennedy has become increasingly popular over the past few decades, particularly in the United States. According to records, it was first used as a surname by the Irish Kennedy clan of County Limerick, who were prominent during the 16th century and later became associated with County Clare and County Galway. Today, it is a popular choice for parents looking for a name with strong historical roots and an air of distinction.

Kennedy has also experienced international success as it is currently a top 100 name in several countries including Australia, Canada and Sweden. In 2019, data from U.S. Social Security Administration revealed that Kennedy had reached number 39 in terms of popularity for baby girl names, earning an honorable place on their top 100 list based on the number of registrations that year.

Furthermore, there are many famous figures who have helped to increase its recognition and desirability as more people become interested in this unique moniker. Notable people associated with this name include President John F. Kennedy (who was himself named after his grandfather John Fitsgerald) as well as other members of his political dynasty including his siblings Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Edward M Kennedy Jr., Rosemary Kennedy and Patrick J Kennedy II; actors like Katie Holmes (married to Tom Cruise) who were born with the same family surname; journalists like Maryanne Trump Barry; musicians such as singer-songwriter Joan Baez; politicians such as Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards; and sports stars including golfer Tiger Woods who is married to Olympic skier Elin Nordegren (née Kennedy).

Variations of The Name Kennedy

The origin of the name Kennedy is Irish and it is derived from the phrase “Ceanndubh” (meaning “head of a church”). The Kennedy family even have their own coat of arms which includes a description of the origin of their surname.

Variations in spelling are common for this name and there are many different variations including:

  • Kennedie
  • Kenedy
  • Kendy
  • Kennady
  • Kendey
  • Kenadee
  • Kinnidy
  • Kinneany
  • Kinnedy
  • Keniddy
  • Kennethy.

Nicknames that may be used include Ken, Kenny and Kendi. These versions were likely created to make the name easier to pronounce or as a term of endearment. While these are all modern versions, they all carry an element of the original meaning behind them – strength, courage and leadership.

Famous People Named Kennedy in History

The Kennedy name carries a long, illustrious history with its origins in the Irish language. It has been connected with several powerful families in Irish and American history and has been used as a surname, title, given name and even a nickname. As such, there are many famous people named Kennedy who have impacted the world throughout history.

One of the earliest figures in revered among those bearing the Kennedy name is Patrick Philip Kennedy (1818-1902) considered the founder of the powerful political dynasty of American Kennedys.

He was an entrepreneur and politician of Irish descent who emigrated to Boston around 1849 with his wife Bridget Murphy. From there he became a notable figure in Boston politics as well as enjoying considerable business success.

One of his great grandsons was another eminent figure associated with the Kennedy family name: John F. Kennedy (1917 -1963). His presidency is remembered for its technological triumphs, social advancement and efforts towards peaceful international relations. JFK was also remembered for leading America through turbulent time including the Vietnam War, Cuban Missile crisis and space race ultimately culminating in him becoming only one of four presidents to have ever visited Ireland during his presidency.

Other notable family members include Joseph P Kennedy Sr (1888-1969); Robert F. ‘Bobby’ Kennedy (1925-1968); Senator Edward ‘Ted’ M. Kennedy (1922 -2009) and Senator Robert Francis ‘Bobby’ Jnr (born 1925).

The legacy these figures left on world history will forever remain ingrained into those bearing their surnames with all that follow in their footsteps capable of achieving goals greater than their predecessors if they so wish to do so under this renowned family name.

Pronunciation of The Name Kennedy

Kennedy is an anglicized form of the Irish name Cinnéidigh, derived from ceann, which means “head”. The surname was traditionally given to someone who was considered the head of their clan. The pronunciation of Kennedy varies depending on its origin and dialect, but it is usually pronounced as KEN-ə-dee or KEHN-ə-dee. In American English, it is usually emphasized with a “K” sound. The name may be spelled Cinnéidigh or Kennedie in its original Irish form.

Numerology of The Name Kennedy

The numerology of the name Kennedy assesses the famous surname with an emphasis on its energetic essence as revealed through numerological vibration.

The technique applied is called Chaldean Numerology, where each letter in the name is assigned a numerical value which reflects the energy frequency signature of the surname.

The first letter or initial ‘K’ carries a numerical value of 8 and symbolically implies ambition, power and success as its primary attributes. The second letter ‘e’ has a vibrational value of 5 and its traits relate to matters associated with intelligence and skillful communication.

The third letter ‘n’ equals to 6 and suggests strength of will-power, courage, perseverance and compassion. The fourth letter ‘n’ is also assigned a numerical value of 6 displaying similar meanings as its predecessor but more accentuated emphasis on forgiveness.

The fifth letter ‘e’ highlights cleverness, creativity, idealism and service to humanity through its vibrations at number 5. The sixth letter ‘d’ brings forth knowledge and understanding at 4 with keen eye for detail while being prudent in nature. Rabbinical tradition states that names with numerical values between 7-9 are very powerful ones making Kennedy an auspicious name that packs quite a punch!

Frequently Asked Questions About The Name Kennedy

Questions about the name Kennedy abound. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions:

What Does The Name Kennedy Mean?

The name Kennedy is an Anglicized form of an old Irish surname, which means ‘armored head.’ The surname is associated with several prominent Irish clans, such as the O’Kennedys and MacKennedys.

Is Kennedy a Boy’s or a Girl’s Name?

The name Kennedy is now more popularly given to girls than boys, but it was originally used as a masculine given name in Ireland.

What Are Some Popular Nicknames for Kennedy?

Popular nicknames for the name Kennedy range from Kenn to Kip to Kenny. Some other less common nicknames include Keno, Kendo, and Kenzie.

Where Does The Origin of The Last Name Kennedy Come From?

The last name Kennedy has origins in Ireland with many prominent families claiming it as their family title. As mentioned previously, it hails from a Gaelic word meaning ‘armored head’.


The name Kennedy has an ancient Gaelic origin and has been strongly associated with the Irish people for centuries. Its meaning is a combination of the words “ceann” – “head” or “chief”, and “dubh, meaning “black”.

The name traveled to Scotland in the 17th century where it began to be used as a clan surname. It then migrated to England and the United States, where its popularity does not seem to show any sign of waning.

Kennedy is considered a strong and powerful name, carrying with it not only leadership and charisma but also deep family values. It’s associated with famous figures like John F Kennedy, an American President who was instrumental in defeating Communism, and Marilyn Monroe who epitomizes Hollywood glamour at its finest; they were also distant cousins!

No matter what country you live in or what field you are working in, Kennedy stands for all that is good: reliability, strength of character, dependability and charisma.

As such it is not only an appropriate first name, but also serves as an excellent example for others that follow after their parents’ footsteps towards success.


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Housam is a content marketing expert with a knack for writing articles. He loves to name and nickname things creatively, so much so that he started a blog in which he writes about names and their meanings. He is also an avid reader, the dad of two wonderful dogs, and a full-time RV traveler with no definite destination.

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