This is an anglicized form of the Irish Gaelic surname O'Cathalain. Recorded in manyspellings including the popular Callan, Cahillane, and Cahalane, and the rarer Cahalune and Cahalin, the surname almost everywhere seems to have lost the Gaelic prefix of "O". This formerly indicated a "male descendant of", plus in this case the personal name Cathalain - meaning "the little brave warrior", a nickname of the first chieftain of the clan, probably around the 10th century a.d.. The personal name is a compound of the elements "cath", meaning a warrior, with "cal", meaning brave and the diminutive suffix "ain".
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