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Saturday, March 10, 2012

How Do You Pronounce the Name Rowan?

My mother and I had a discussion the other day about the name Rowan/Rowen. Neither of us personally knows anyone with the name, or has heard it pronounced by anyone who does. I've been assuming a "row your boat" pronunciation, to rhyme with Owen. My mom has been assuming the first part was pronounced as in "ow, I hurt myself," or as in the word rowdy, or as in Howard.

I tried to search online, and most of the evidence supports the row-your-boat pronunciation---but many places give the "rowdy"-type pronunciation as a second or alternate pronunciation, if not as a first. It's additionally complicated because rowan and rowen are both nouns, and their pronunciations may or may not apply to the pronunciation of the name.

I'm going to put a poll over to the right, with a variety of answers to cover a variety of circumstances: I'd think we'd want a vote from someone who actually knows an actual Rowen or Rowan to carry more weight than a vote from someone who, like my mom and me, is just assuming a pronunciation. [Poll closed; see results below.]


Poll results for "How Do You Pronounce the Name Rowan?" (506 votes total):

I know someone; it's like Owen - 255 votes (50%)
I know someone; it's like rowdy - 2 votes (0%)
I know at least once pronounced each way - 1 vote (0%)
I don't know someone; I thought it was like Owen - 245 votes (48%)
I don't know someone; I thought it was like rowdy - 3 votes (1%)

20 comments:

ccr in MA said...

In the books by Anne McCaffrey featuring a character with that name, it's pronounced like Owen, or at least the reader of the audios did.

Johanna said...

I have a friend whose maiden name was Rowan, and she named her daughter Rowan. Her name rhymes with Owen.

Kristin said...

Semi-related and always comes to mind when I think of Rowan: I know a family who named their son Rohan... Dad was a big "Lord of the Rings" fan, so it was after the Riders of Rohan - they actually included a map of Middle Earth in their birth announcement. They pronounced it either Ro-han or more like Row-hen.

Anonymous said...

I know many, many Rowans as It's a popular name in my area. They are all pronounced Row as in row your boat. This is true for both boys and girls.

Karen L said...

Rowan Atkinson is RO as in row your boat. I've never heard anything resembling OW.

Gemma said...

I'm from Scotland, and over here I would say it depends on whether it's a boy or a girl. If it's a girl. then ROW-an, like the tree. (I always thought that this was where the girls name came from in the first place?!) If it's a boy then RO-an, like Rowan Atkinson.

Meggan said...

I know a Roan (no W) and it's pronounced like Owen. (I made sure to clarify when I first found out his name so I wouldn't be pronouncing it wrong!)

Sarah Marie said...

I've mostly heard it pronounced "like Owen with an 'r'" but I've also heard it pronounced Row(as in, row the boat)-ahn. I think the latter is a pretty unusual pronunciation.

AmyRobynne said...

My husband's middle name is Rowan and he pronounces it like Owen.

Amy said...

My daughter's middle name is Rowan and we have a friend with a daughter named Rowan. Bothe are pronounced like Owen with an R.

eponymia said...

I'm a Rowan (named for a family surname) and it's like rowing -- rowin'.

Lynnette said...

My cousin's baby boy is Rowen, and my friend's 3-year-old girl is Rowan, both pronounced to rhyme with Owen.

Ms. Key said...

The neighbours who live behind my parents house have a son named Rowen, and it's like Owen-with-an-R.

I was going to ask about the name "Roan". I see another commenter mentioned it! I wasn't sure if that was pronounced the same as Rowen (Ro-an) or like "Rone" (rhymes with roam, but with an n?). Maybe it can be either way?

Anonymous said...

Rowan - like rowing your boat, like Owen with an R. That's how Rowan Atkinson and Rowan Williams (Archbishop of Canterbury) pronounce their names.

Jen said...

I don't know anyone with the name but I couldn't vote on the poll because when I see Rowen, I pronounce like Owen and when I see Rowan, I pronounce like Ow.

Anonymous said...

A rowan is a kind of tree! It rhymes with Owen.

Anonymous said...

Yes, lots in our area and always Owen-with-an-R. That's the traditional pronunciation as well. Rohan is another name all together, which is why it has a different pronunciation. If you want the "rowdy" sound, I would look at alternate names since you will be endlessly correcting people!

Anonymous said...

Owen with an 'R' for sure. I grew up with several Rowan's, as it is quite popular where I live, and I have only ever heard it pronounced like this.

Firegirl said...

The only time I've heard the name is in movies/television.

A character in October Road is named Owen Rowan and it rhymed.

I think it's one of those names that it depends where you live as to how it's pronounced.

Anonymous said...

My daughters name is Rowen, it's like Owen. I did not spell it RowAn because people say RoAnne instead of the way it is meant to be prOnounced. Hope this helps :)