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Surname McGregor - Meaning and Origin

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Unraveling the Roots of My Surname McGregor Through iGENEA's DNA Analysis

Embarking on a journey with iGENEA, I sent off my DNA for analysis. What I discovered was not only the diverse geographical spread of my lineage but a detailed history of my Scottish surname – McGregor. The experience provided a richer understanding of my heritage, revealing ancestral narratives personal to my existence.

Q. McGregor

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McGregor: What does the surname McGregor mean?

The last name McGregor is of Scottish origin and it carries a strong historical and cultural background. The name is derived from the Gaelic words “Mac Griogair” which translates to 'Son of Griogar'. Griogar is the Gaelic form of the name Gregory, which comes from the Greek “Gregōrios”, meaning 'watchful' or 'alert'. Consequently, the name McGregor essentially means ‘son of the watchful one’. The clan McGregor has a significant presence in the Scottish Highlands. Historically, they were known for their resilience and resistance, defying numerous attempts to eradicate their clan over centuries. However, due to conflicts with the government and other clans, those bearing the name McGregor were subjected to proscription, forcing them to adopt different surnames for a period of time. Today, the name remains widespread, exemplified by notable figures like the Irish mixed martial artist Conor McGregor.

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McGregor: Where does the name McGregor come from?

The last name McGregor is of Scottish origin. It comes from the Gaelic name "Mac Griogair," meaning "son of Griogar." The English form of Griogar is Gregory, which comes from the Greek Gregorios, meaning "watchful, alert". The name has a historical connection with Scotland, especially in the Highland regions. The Clan Gregor, from whom the surname originated, held significant power in Scotland during the medieval period until they were outlawed in the 17th century.

The surname McGregor is found throughout the world today, largely due to the Scottish diaspora. It is particularly common in countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, where Scottish immigrants historically settled. In the UK, it is primarily found in Scotland, as well as England. Famous individuals bearing the surname McGregor include actor Ewan McGregor and mixed martial artist Conor McGregor, contributing to the ubiquity of the name globally.

Variations of the surname McGregor

The surname McGregor has roots in Scotland. Thus, it has several possible spelling variants that reflect the diversity and distortion through ages and regions. These may include MacGregor, M'Gregor, Mc Grégor, McGrigor, MacGrigor, MacGriogair, Macgookin, Mcgookin, McEagh and Grierson.

Many surnames were Anglicized when Scottish clans emigrated, leading to completely different sounding but related names, such as the aforementioned Grierson. Therefore, some individuals with the surname King might also have ancestral ties to the McGregor clan, as King was used as an alias or substitute for McGregor during periods when the McGregor name was outlawed in Scotland.

Many of the variants use the Irish or Scottish prefix 'Mac' or 'Mc', both of which denote "son of". So MacGregor effectively means "son of Gregor". The name Gregor comes from the Latin 'Gregorius' (Gregory in English) and has origins in the Greek "Gregorein", meaning to be watchful or alert.

These surname variations have spread far and wide due to the global Scottish diaspora but remain most common in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Some extension of the MacGregor clan can also be found in Canada, Australia, and the United States.

Famous people with the name McGregor

  • Ewan McGregor: A renowned Scottish actor who has had success in mainstream, indie, and art house films. He's most known for his performances in "Trainspotting", "Moulin Rouge!" and "Star Wars".
  • Conor McGregor: A well-known professional mixed martial artist and boxer from Ireland. He's the former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) featherweight and lightweight champion.
  • Dean McGregor: An Australian politician, associated with Australian Labor Party.
  • Freddie McGregor: A Jamaican singer, musician, and producer, famous in reggae music scene.
  • Julia McGregor: An English actress, known for her roles in TV series like "Doctors" and "The Coroner".
  • Rory McGregor: An Australian actor known for his roles in television series like "Neighbours".
  • Meg McGregor: A Scottish television presenter and journalist who has worked for BBC and STV.
  • Robert Roy McGregor: A Scottish outlaw and folk hero from the 18th century, also known simply as Rob Roy.
  • Gordon McGregor: He was president of the Ford Motor Company of Canada and son of Ford Canada founder Wallace McGregor.
  • Clare McGregor: A UK-based social entrepreneur and author, known for founding the charity Coaching Inside and Out.

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