Dillon - Dylan

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There are two common ways of spelling the forename, and rather different surname, pronounced as 'DILL-en' IPA: /ˈdɪ lən/. Be careful to use the right one when referring to real people.

  • The older form of the name is Dylan. This is a name from Welsh mythology: in The Mabinogion (an 11th or 12th century collection of Welsh folk tales), Dylan (~ 'the wave') is the darker of a the twins born to Gwydion by Arianrhod (the fairer was Lleu Llaw Gyffes). When he was baptised, "he plunged into the sea. And immediately when he was in the sea, he took its nature, and swam as well as the best fish that was therein. And for that reason was he called Dylan, the son of the Wave" (Guest, C. (translator) (1877) The Mabinogion, Chicago: Academy Press Limited). This may indicate a pre-Christian aquatic deity.
Notable bearers of the name include (as forename) the modern Welsh poet, Dylan Thomas (1914–1953), and (as surname) his admirer Robert Allen Zimmerman (1941- ), who adopted the name as Bob Dylan, the American singer and songwriter.
  • Dillon appears to have begun as a surname, although many modern parents in giving a name to a son appear to be influenced by aesthetic considerations - not distinguishing the names etymologically, they opt for the one that more pleases their sense of orthography. According to Hanks, Hardcastle and Hodges (2006), "The surname Dillon or Dillon derives in part from a now extinct Norman French personal name of Germanic origin; in part it is a local name from Dilwyn in Hereford", which itself means something like 'place of concealment' (Ekwall).
The name was borne (as surname) by the fictional Matt Dillon, the Marshal of Dodge City in the radio (1952-1961) and TV series (1955-1975) Gunsmoke, a western drama set in the 1870s.