The name is of uncertain derivation but is most likely of Breton Celtic origins as the name has been in usage in Brittany as early as the 6th-century.
Some theories suggest that it is derived from a Celtic root word meaning “little rock” or from a Celtic word meaning, “handsome.”
Others have even suggested that it is a Celtic corruption of the Latin given name, Aelius.
Another popular theory is that it comes from the name of a tribe of Indo-European people who settled the Loire Valley.
The name was borne by several early Christian saints, and has been quite popular in both England and France since the Middle Ages.
In England, the name was first introduced during the Norman Conquest in the 11th-century.
In the United States, the name’s popularity peaked in the Mid-20th century. In 1951, it was the 4oth most popular male name in the United States. Today, it stands as the 142nd most popular male name, (2009).
His rankings in other countries is as follows:
# 56 (Chile, 2006)
# 64 (Ireland, 2009)
Other forms of the name include:
Alanus (Late Latin)
A common English short form is Al.
Notable bearers include: Alan Shepherd (1923-1998), the first American in space and the fifth man to walk on the moon. Alan Alda, American comedian.
The designated name days are: March 8 (Slovakia), August 15 (Czech Republic), September 9 (France) and October 14 (Poland)
Feminine forms include: