Alan \a-lan\ as a boy's name is pronounced AL-an. It is of Old German origin, and the meaning of Alan is "precious". From Adal. Also possibly derived from the Gaelic "ailin" meaning "little rock". Introduced into England by Breton followers of William the Conqueror, such as Alan, Earl of Brittany, who was rewarded for his services with vast estates in the newly conquered kingdom. Popular in the Middle Ages, with a boom around the 1950s influenced by the popularity of actor Alan Ladd. In Russia, the name is linked to the ancient warrior tribe Alans that is the origin of the Ossetians. Alun is a Welsh form; Alain (al-LAYN) is French; Alano is Spanish. South African author Alan Paton; lyricist Alan Jay Lerner; playwright Alan Bennett; astronaut Alan Shepard; actors Alan Alda, Alan Cumming; poet Allen Ginsberg; basketball player Allen Iverson.
Alan has 25 variant forms: Ailean, Ailin, Al, Alain, Alair, Aland, Alann, Alano, Alanson, Alen, Alin, Allain, Allan, Allayne, Allen, Alley, Alleyn, Alleyne, Allie, Allin, Allon, Allyn, Alon, Alun and Alyn.
For more information, see also the related name Elwyn.