AOIFE: pronunciation and meaning, explained

From pronunciation and meaning to fun facts and history, here’s a look at the Irish name Aoife.

AOIFE: pronunciation and meaning, explained

Aoife is a uniquely Irish name that has grown in popularity in recent years. If you’re lucky enough to have it as yours, and if you have ever travelled outside of Ireland, you’ve probably had to correct people on its pronunciation on multiple occasions.

This Irish name has been one of the most popular names in Ireland, with its peak being in 1997 when it was ranked second as the most popular baby girl name in Ireland.

Since then, its popularity has decreased slightly, but as of 2019, the Irish name Aoife ranked 17th, according to the Central Statistics Office.

Here is everything you need to know about the Irish name Aoife, including its pronunciation and meaning.

Ireland Before You Die’s top facts about the Irish name Aoife

  • While Irish names can be difficult to pronounce, this isn’t too bad! It goes “Ee-fa”. Give it a try and watch the video below for help.
  • Aoife is a historical Irish name with links to Celtic mythology. Translated, it means “beautiful” and “radiant”.
  • According to Irish mythology, Aoife was a warrior princess and the sister of Scáthach, a legendary warrior woman.
  • Over the years, a number of different variations and spellings of the name Aoife have emerged, such as Eva, Ava and Éabha.
  • As well as tracing its origins to Celtic mythology, the beautiful name of Aoife has also been found in use throughout Irish literature and art.

Pronunciation – let us walk you through it

Due to the nature of the sheer number of vowels in this five-letter name, Aoife is very often mispronounced if abroad. Aoife is pronounced as ‘Ee-fa’, which tends to baffle people due to the disappearance of the individual vowel sounds.

As the writer of this article, who has the pleasure of bearing this name, I have become accustomed to multiple different ways people have mispronounced my name.

Some common mispronunciations that I have encountered are ‘Ay-oh-fee’ and ‘Eff-ie’; however, these are only commonplace outside Ireland.

READ:

Spelling and variants – other ways you might see this name

Spellings and variations of Aoife.

The name is usually spelt as Aoife; however, very rarely you will come across it spelt as Aífe. Aífe is the Old Irish spelling, but the pronunciation doesn’t change.

The English version of Aoife is often referred to as Eve or Eva. However, the Irish version for Eva is often Éabha. It is believed that due to the similarity in sound, the name is frequently anglicised as Eve or Eva.

READ MORE: Irish name of the week: Aoife

Meaning – a beautiful meaning for a beautiful name

This Irish name has a beautiful meaning.
Credit: commons.wikimedia.org

Aoife is probably derived from the word aoibh, pronounced ‘ee-v’, which is the Irish word for beauty or radiance. This Irish name has been compared to the Gaulish (ancient Celtic language spoken in Gaul) name Esvios.

According to behindthename.com, people think that the characteristics of the name Aoife are: natural, wholesome, classic, refined, youthful, strange, and complex.

Aoife is a name steeped in Irish mythology and folklore. It was the name of the stepmother of the Children of Lír and of a female warrior who appeared in the story of Cú Chulainn (more on these below).

Mythology – a prominent name in Irish mythology

Aoife was the stepmother in the Children of Lir story.
Credit: Pixabay / Prawny

The name is also borne by several famed characters in Irish mythology. Thus, pointing further to the significance of this Irish name. One such character was the female warrior who appeared in the story of Cú Chulainn, the main hero in Irish folklore.

One version says that Aoife had an identical twin sister and lifelong rival, Scathach, a legendary martial arts teacher. Scathach was teaching Cú Chulainn the art of war before one day they did battle against Aoife.

Cú Chulainn uses his teacher, Scathach’s, knowledge of her sister’s weakness to beat her in battle. Aoife lost this duel and was taken captive by Cú Chulainn, where they evidently fell in love and had a son.

Another story in Irish mythology is of the stepmother from the Children of Lír. After getting married, Aoife began to grow jealous of her husband’s affection towards her four stepchildren. She intended to kill them, but instead, she cast a spell, turning them into swans.

When her husband learned of what his wife had done to his children, he changed her into a demon and banished her to the four winds forever. Legend has it you can still hear her voice on a stormy night, sighing and sobbing above the sound of the wind.

LEARN MORE with Ireland Before You Die’s article – Irish mythology 101: a fascinating overview

Famous Aoifes – a popular Irish name to this day

Aoife Walsh is an Irish fashion model.
Credit: Instagram / @aoife_walsh_x

As Aoife is only recently a common name in Irish society, very few people have reached fame at the moment.

Here is a selection of the notable individuals with this name:

  • Renowned researcher in molecular evolution and comparative genomes, Aoife McLysaght.
  • Fashion model and former Miss Ireland 2013, Aoife Walsh.
  • Irish bobsledding Olympian, Aoife Hoey.
  • Successful West End actress, Aoife Mulholland.
  • Singer/songwriter, Aoife O’Donovan.
  • International football player for England, Aoife Mannion.

With the surge in popularity of the Irish name, there will no doubt be more Aoifes rising to fame in the future.

So, there you have it: all you need to know about the Irish name Aoife!

RELATED: See which other names join Aoife in IB4UD’s article on the top 100 most popular Gaelic and Irish first names and meanings

Your questions answered about the name Aoife

Read our article on the beautiful Irish name of Aoife but still have some outstanding questions? Then we have you covered! Here, we have put together the most frequently asked questions on the topic.

How do I pronounce the name Aoife?

It is very simple! It is pronounced as “Ee-fa”. See above for a video we have provided on how to pronounce the name.

What is the English version of Aoife?

The English version of Aoife is often referred to as Ava/Eva. However, the Irish translation for those is Éabha.

Is the name Aoife Scottish or Irish?

Aoife has both Irish and Scottish roots, and it means “beautiful” and “radiant”.

What is the name Saoirse in English?

The name Saoirse means “freedom” in Irish. Read our article here on how to pronounce the name Saoirse.

NEXT: Read about Aoife and more in IB4UD’s piece on the top 10 most beautiful Irish names beginning with ‘A’

… AND MORE IB4UD ARTICLES ON IRISH NAMES!

Top 10 most beautiful Irish names beginning with ‘C’

Top 10 most beautiful Irish names beginning with ‘S’

Top 10 most beautiful Irish names beginning with ‘M’

10 Irish girl names nobody can pronounce

The 10 hardest to pronounce Irish first names, ranked

Top 20 Gaelic Irish girl names

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