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Surname Tolan - Meaning and Origin

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Tolan: What does the surname Tolan mean?

The surname Tolan is of Irish origin, derived from the Gaelic name "Ó Tuathaláin". The prefix "Ó" indicates "descendant of," while "Tuathaláin" stems from "Tuathal", which is a personal name meaning "ruler of the people". Therefore, the surname Tolan overall suggests a lineage from a family with rulers or leaders. Bearers of this surname can be found predominantly in the province of Ulster in the northern part of Ireland. Like many other Irish surnames, it was anglicized during the 17th century due to the suppression of the Irish language and culture. Despite its variations in spellings such as Toolan, Toal, or Toole, the core etymology of this surname speaks of strength, leadership, and authority.

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Tolan: Where does the name Tolan come from?

The last name Tolan is most commonly found in areas of the United States and Ireland. In the US, the surname is most prevalent in the Midwest. States like Minnesota, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Ohio have the most people with the last name Tolan. In Ireland, the name is still widespread in the provinces of Connacht and Ulster, where it was possibly first recorded centuries ago. Tolan is a fairly common surname, with over 2,200 people in Ireland having the name, and almost 3,500 in the US. The name is of Irish origin, with different spellings of the name like Toland, Toolan, and Toolen. It can also be found in a few other countries, such as Australia, Canada, England, and Scotland. In these places it is seen significantly less often than in the US and Ireland.

The meaning of the last name is unclear, but some researchers believe it could come from the word “tulach” which means “hill” in Irish, or could be derived from the ancient Irish-Gaelic word “tuileach” which translates to “warrior”. Other researchers suggest that it may also come from the word “Tulchan” which means “a calf that can be easily handled” and could be a reference to a Gaelic chieftain.

Regardless of its origin, the Tolan last name is still quite popular today in the United States and Ireland. Those with the name could be related and trace their ancestry back to Ireland centuries ago.

Variations of the surname Tolan

The surname Tolan has many variants, spellings, and derivatives. Its Irish spelling can be found as Ó Tuathail, Ó Taithail, O'Tolane, O'Talone, Tolehan, Tally, Tollane, Tolan, Tolane, Tolan, Toler, Tole, Tolle, Towle, and Toule.

The patronymic surname Ó Tuathail, derived from the Irish Gaelic first name, Tuathal, has various spellings Tully, Tally, Talle, Taile, Teall, Teale, and Tuel. A similar but distinct surname in Ireland is O'Toole, which is derived from the Irish O Tuathail.

In Britain, the English variant of Tolan appears as Towill, Towil, Tolle, Tall, and Tole. And in Scotland, as Tolane, Tule, and Toul.

Toal is a rare surname in Ireland that is closely related to Tolan. While Toole is an Anglicised variant of the Irish Ó Tuathail. MacTolan is also a variant in Scotland from the Gaelic personal name Mac Tuathail.

Tollan and Tillman are also believed to be variants, though their true origins are uncertain. Likely of Old German origin, the surname may be derived from a personal name made up of two elements: til, meaning people, and man, meaning man.

The Tolan surname is most commonly found in Ireland, the United Kingdom and the United States, where it is also spelled Tollan, Tullan, Tullen, and Tullon. A variant in Spain is Tolon while in France it is Tolant.

Famous people with the name Tolan

  • Mike Tolan: American former National Football League offensive lineman.
  • Mary Tolan: American business executive and the co-founder and CEO of Accretive Health.
  • Alan Tolan: American photographer and art director, primarily specializing in film and television.
  • Peter Tolan: American television producer, director, and screenwriter.
  • Melody Tolan: American voice actress.
  • Cory Tolan: American soccer player.
  • Billy Tolan: American professional golfer.
  • Duke Tolan: American actor.
  • Brad Tolan: American former minor league baseball player, coach, manager, and executive.
  • Debbie Tolan: American former professional softball pitcher.

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