How popular is the baby name Kelly in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, check out all the blog posts that mention the name Kelly.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Kelly


Posts that Mention the Name Kelly

The Coming of Keely

keely smith, 1957, album cover

At a time when Kelly was bounding up the baby name charts, we see the debut (and quick rise) of the very similar Keely:

  • 1960: 118 baby girls named Keely
  • 1959: 119 baby girls named Keely
  • 1958: 84 baby girls named Keely
  • 1957: 7 baby girls named Keely [debut]
  • 1956: unlisted

Keely debuted the year Virginia-born jazz vocalist Keely Smith had her first big solo hit, “I Wish You Love.” The next year, she and her duet partner/husband Louis Prima scored another hit with the song “That Old Black Magic.” In fact, the song won ‘Best Performance by a Vocal Group or Chorus’ at the very first Grammy Awards, in May of 1959.

Keely Smith, born Dorothy Jacqueline Keely, had spent much of the ’50s performing in Vegas with Prima. He had originally wanted to call her Dottie Mae Smith (Smith being her stepfather’s name) but, as she later said: “I was no Dottie Mae.” They settled on using her Irish surname as her first name instead. (The surname means “descendant of Caollaidhe,” with “Caollaidhe” being a male personal name derived from caol, meaning “slender.”)

Which name do you prefer, Keely or Kelly?

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Sources:

Name Quotes 89: Shelley, Kelly, Bill

Dram EP

From an Uproxx article about DRAM’s most recent EP:

Virginian rap crooner DRAM returned last night with the release of his new, three-song EP, That’s A Girl’s Name. Produced and co-written by Josh Abraham and Oligee, the EP’s title refers to DRAM’S real name, Shelley Massenburg-Smith, which means “that’s a girl’s name” is probably a phrase he heard quite a bit growing up.

(“DRAM” is an acronym for “Does Real Ass Music.” DRAM’s goldendoodle also has an interesting name: Idnit [vid] — “as in, idnit so cute.”)

DRAM with his dog, Idnit

From an Us Magazine article about Matthew McConaughey’s new book Greenlights:

The Texas native also revealed that when he was born his father wasn’t there. Instead, he explained that James “called my mom and said, ‘Only thing I have to say is if it’s a boy, don’t name him Kelly.’”

From a New York Times article about the marriage of Sugar Good, a Dunkin’ Donuts manager, to one of her drive-through customers:

A year would go by before she gathered the courage to pass him her sprinkle-bedecked business card with his breakfast in September 2018. But when she did, it came as a relief to both. The man, John Thompson, a recently retired Marine working as a car salesman in Oklahoma City, had been wondering how he was going to figure out what her real name was.

“When I started going through the drive-through, I noticed she would smile with her eyes, and I thought, maybe if I read the receipt I can see what her name is,” he said. “But it said ‘Sugar No. 7.'” He figured Sugar must have been a reference to how he likes his coffee. With the card, which listed her cellphone number at the bottom, she cleared up the mystery — as well as her own case of the blues.

(I discovered this one via Nancy Friedman — thank you!)

From a Harper’s Bazaar article about genderless beauty brands:

“As a culture, we are realizing that gender is no longer a fixed concept,” says Sam Cheow, senior vice president of corporate innovation and product development at the Estée Lauder Companies, which owns brands like M.A.C, Tom Ford Beauty, Le Labo, and Frédéric Malle . . . Cheow points to evidence that the needle is moving forward: the growing backlash surrounding gender-reveal parties; a rise in gender-neutral baby names (for example, in 2018, 51 percent of “Charlies” were female); and the arrival of Q, the world’s first genderless voice assistant.

From a Dictionary of Medieval Names from European Sources blog post entitled “The Tiffany Problem“:

Wait, what? No way there’s a Tiffany in this book! Not when there are other women running around with convincing names like Blanchefleur, Isolde, and Ermentrude.

[…]

[T]he Tiffany Problem describes the tension between historical fact and the average, everyday person’s idea of history. So even though authors may research carefully and want to include historically accurate information in their book—like a medieval character named Tiffany—a popular audience likely won’t buy it.

From a piece in Blue Ridge Outdoors about not wanting a trail name:

I remember a guy named Bill. His view on trail names mirrored mine. He didn’t have one, didn’t want one. He was thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, not seeking a new identity. As he walked the white-blazed path, he simply introduced himself as “Bill”.

The most-often stated reply to him was, “What’s your trail name?”

His standard answer, “I don’t have a trail name. My name is just Bill.”

He became “Just Bill.”

From a Pitchfork interview with The Good Place actress D’Arcy Carden:

I put an apostrophe in my name that wasn’t there before, like Smashing Pumpkins bassist D’Arcy Wretzky, because of how influential this band was to me. D’Arcy was just the epitome of cool to me. In 1993, I was really into alternative and grunge music, and whereas the Nirvanas and the Pearl Jams felt so masculine, there was something sweeter and lighter about Smashing Pumpkins. The fact that they had a girl in their band was huge for me and my friends. I learned the guitar part to “Today,” and it made me feel like such a badass. It was like, “Wow, I can play guitar!” But, of course, anybody can play the beginning of “Today.”

(Name Quotes #73 mentioned another Good Place actress…)

From an amNewYork article about Broadway actress Tovah Feldshuh (born Terri Sue Feldshuh in 1952):

What ever happened to Terri Sue Feldshuh?

“I fell in love with a Christian boy, Michael Fairchild, who didn’t want to kiss a Terri Sue. He said: ‘Terri Sue doesn’t fit you at all. What’s that other name of yours? Tovah? Now that’s a name!'”

(Her stage name was initially “Terri Fairchild,” according to Wikipedia.)

Numerology & Baby Names: Number 2

baby names that add up to 2, numerologically

Here are hundreds of baby names that have a numerological value of “2.”

I’ve sub-categorized them by overall totals, because I think that some of the intermediate numbers could have special significance to people as well.

Within each group, I’ve listed up to ten of the most popular “2” names per gender (according to the current U.S. rankings).

Beneath all the names are some ways you could interpret the numerological value of “2,” including descriptions from two different numerological systems.

2 via 11

The following baby names add up to 11, which reduces to two (1+1=2).

  • “11” girl names: Adea, Fe
  • “11” boy names: Aj

2 via 20

The following baby names add up to 20, which reduces to two (2+0=2).

  • “20” girl names: Jade, Dana, Jia, Deja, Ara, Nada, Amada, Hiba, Ena, Jai
  • “20” boy names: Abel, Gage, Adan, Kace, Ean, Jai, Chace, Fahad, Jade, Able

2 via 29

The following baby names add up to 29, which reduces to two (2+9=11; 1+1=2).

  • “29” girl names: Aria, Diana, Alana, Nadia, Ann, Asha, Dania, Sia, Adina, Kacie
  • “29” boy names: Beau, Aidan, Dax, Khai, Isa, Kael, Alek, Lake, Sai, Abiel

2 via 38

The following baby names add up to 38, which reduces to two (3+8=11; 1+1=2).

  • “38” girl names: Sadie, Alaina, Paige, Amina, Nina, Aisha, Hanna, Cecelia, Jamie, Chaya
  • “38” boy names: Noah, Max, Bodhi, Jared, Jaime, Jamie, Jair, Amare, Isai, Deon

2 via 47

The following baby names add up to 47, which reduces to two (4+7=11; 1+1=2).

  • “47” girl names: Sarah, Rachel, Kamila, Hallie, Leona, Adley, Reina, Galilea, Myah, Leanna
  • “47” boy names: John, Isaiah, Adrian, Malachi, Legend, Omar, Cody, Shane, Damon, Callen

2 via 56

The following baby names add up to 56, which reduces to two (5+6=11; 1+1=2).

  • “56” girl names: Ivy, Norah, Charlie, Aliyah, Selena, Dylan, April, Elianna, Maisie, Emmy
  • “56” boy names: Lucas, Dylan, Nolan, Oscar, Charlie, Felix, Mario, Armani, Omari, Pierce

2 via 65

The following baby names add up to 65, which reduces to two (6+5=11; 1+1=2).

  • “65” girl names: Rylee, Isabelle, Eloise, Alondra, Carter, Kelly, Palmer, Bridget, Vienna, Chandler
  • “65” boy names: Carter, Andrew, Javier, Prince, Conor, Collin, Shawn, Uriel, Chandler, Dennis

2 via 74

The following baby names add up to 74, which reduces to two (7+4=11; 1+1=2).

  • “74” girl names: Aurora, Audrey, Madelyn, Melody, London, Marley, Daleyza, Zuri, Lucille, Margot
  • “74” boy names: Joshua, Easton, Jesus, Myles, Matteo, Messiah, Desmond, Muhammad, Ryland, Tony

2 via 83

The following baby names add up to 83, which reduces to two (8+3=11; 1+1=2).

  • “83” girl names: Evelyn, Violet, Margaret, Catherine, Emmalyn, Addilynn, Giovanna, Valery, Yuliana, Memphis
  • “83” boy names: Jonathan, Jaxson, Bentley, Memphis, Alonzo, Shepherd, Branson, Thatcher, Brysen, Judson

2 via 92

The following baby names add up to 92, which reduces to two (9+2=11; 1+1=2).

  • “92” girl names: Sydney, Kaitlyn, Mckinley, Oaklynn, Madilynn, Marilyn, Estrella, Sylvie, Heavenly, Rilynn
  • “92” boy names: Julius, Porter, Santino, Yusuf, Wilson, Salvador, Watson, Tyrell, Zakariya, Ozzy

2 via 101

The following baby names add up to 101, which reduces to two (1+0+1=2).

  • “101” girl names: Josephine, Christina, Jaylynn, Kristina, Brynley, Murphy, Sherlyn, Kiersten, Christian, Kylynn
  • “101” boy names: Christian, Tristan, Forrest, Kristian, Brentley, Murphy, Garrison, Jovanny, Marquez, Tyrion

2 via 110

The following baby names add up to 110, which reduces to two (1+1+0=2).

  • “110” girl names: Loyalty, Stormy, Sullivan, Sparrow, Amaryllis, Rozlyn, Kynsleigh, Paislynn, Brylynn, Justus
  • “110” boy names: Alexzander, Justus, Youssef, Tyshawn, Octavius, Joseluis, Loyalty, Torryn, Arlington, Suleyman

2 via 119

The following baby names add up to 119, which reduces to two (1+1+9=11; 1+1=2).

  • “119” girl names: Gwendolyn, Josselyn, Serinity, Carrington, Jessalynn, Pressley, Suttyn, Samyuktha, Pryncess, Sirenity
  • “119” boy names: Kingstyn, Treyvon, Aristotle, Tyberius, Carrington, Marcellous, Thorsten, Theodoros, Romulus, Grayston

2 via 128

The following baby names add up to 128, which reduces to two (1+2+8=11; 1+1=2).

  • “128” girl names: Kensington, Jazzlynn, Scottlyn, Yuritzi, Remmington, Oluwanifemi, Courtlyn, Josslynn, Mattilynn, Averyrose
  • “128” boy names: Remmington, Huckleberry, Vittorio, Kensington, Treyvion, Florentino, Quintrell, Patterson, Pratyush, Oluwanifemi

2 via 137

The following baby names add up to 137, which reduces to two (1+3+7=11; 1+1=2).

  • “137” girl names: Riverlynn, Savannahrose, Taylormarie
  • “137” boy names: Konstantin, Joseantonio, Kentavious, Toluwanimi

2 via 146

The following baby names add up to 146, which reduces to two (1+4+6=11; 1+1=2).

  • “146” girl names: Oluwadarasimi, Winterrose, Scarlettrose
  • “146” boy names: Oluwadarasimi, Jontavious

2 via 155

The following baby names add up to 155, which reduces to two (1+5+5=11; 1+1=2).

  • “155” boy names: Krystopher, Chrystopher, Muhammadmustafa

What Does “2” Mean?

First, we’ll look at the significance assigned to “2” by two different numerological sources. Second, and more importantly, ask yourself if “2” or any of the intermediate numbers above have any special significance to you.

Numerological Attributes

“2” (the dyad) according to the Pythagoreans:

  • “The dyad is the first to have separated itself from the monad, whence also it is called ‘daring. ‘ For when the monad manifests unification, the dyad steals in and manifests separation.”
  • “Among the virtues, they liken it to courage: for it has already advanced into action. Hence too they used to call it ‘daring’ and ‘impulse.'”
  • “They also gave it the title of ‘opinion,’ because truth and falsity lie in opinion. And they called it ‘movement,’ ‘generation,’ ‘change,’ ‘division,’ ‘length,’ ‘multiplication,’ ‘addition,’ ‘kinship,’ ‘relativity,’ ‘the ratio in proportionality.’ For the relation of two numbers is of every conceivable form.”
  • “Apart from recklessness itself, they think that, because it is the very first to have endured separation, it deserves to be called ‘anguish,’ ‘endurance’ and ‘hardship.'”
  • “From division into two, they call it ‘justice’ (as it were ‘dichotomy’)”
  • “And they call it ‘Nature,’ since it is movement towards being and, as it were, a sort of coming-to-be and extension from a seed principle”
  • “Equality lies in this number alone…the product of its multiplication will be equal to the sum of its addition: for 2+2=2×2. Hence they used to call it ‘equal.'”
  • “It also turns out to be ‘infinity,’ since it is difference, and difference starts from its being set against 1 and extends to infinity.”
  • “The dyad, they say, is also called ‘Erato’; for having attracted through love the advance of the monad as form, it generates the rest of the results, starting with the triad and tetrad.”

“2” according to Edgar Cayce:

  • “Two – divided” (reading 261-14).
  • “Two – the combination, and begins a division of the whole, or the one. While two makes for strength, it also makes for weakness” (reading 5751-1).
Personal/Cultural Significance

Does “2” — or do any of the other numbers above (e.g., 38, 47, 83, 101) — have any special significance to you?

Think about your own preferences and personal experiences: lucky numbers, birth dates, music, sports, and so on. Maybe you like how “101” reminds you of education and learning new things, for example.

Also think about associations you may have picked up from your culture, your religion, or society in general.

If you have any interesting insights about the number 2, or any of the other numbers above, please leave a comment!

Source: Theologumena Arithmeticae, attributed to Iamblichus (c.250-c.330).

Baby Names Given a Boost by Grace Kelly

grace kelly, 1950s

Philadelphia native Grace Kelly appeared in her first movie in 1951. By 1955, she had become one of the biggest box-office draws in the nation. But she gave up her career as an actress to assume the role of a princess in 1956 when she married the ruler of Monaco.

I know of five baby names (so far) that got a boost thanks to Grace Kelly…

Grace

First thing’s first: Grace Kelly’s first name, Grace. It saw a two-year uptick in the mid-’50s:

  • 1959: 1,660 baby girls named Grace [rank: 204th]
  • 1958: 1,708 baby girls named Grace [rank: 198th]
  • 1957: 1,917 baby girls named Grace [rank: 186th]
  • 1956: 1,837 baby girls named Grace [rank: 189th]
  • 1955: 1,390 baby girls named Grace [rank: 216th]
  • 1954: 1,410 baby girls named Grace [rank: 213th]

Decades later, it would peak in the rankings at 13th place for two years in a row (2003 and 2004).

Kelly

The rise of Kelly can’t be attributed to a single factor, as we saw yesterday. That said, I have no doubt that Grace Kelly played a part in feminizing the first name Kelly during the 1950s:

  • 1959: 6,379 baby girls named Kelly [rank: 74th]
  • 1958: 4,471 baby girls named Kelly [rank: 108th]
  • 1957: 1,907 baby girls named Kelly [rank: 187th]
  • 1956: 831 baby girls named Kelly [rank: 310th]
  • 1955: 540 baby girls named Kelly [rank: 380th]
  • 1954: 455 baby girls named Kelly [rank: 406th]

Grace Kelly’s paternal grandparents were Irish immigrants. The Irish surname Kelly can have several possible origins, but a common one is the Ó Ceallaigh, “descendant of Ceallach.” The meaning of the personal name Ceallach isn’t known for certain — some sources say “bright-headed,” others say it comes from a word meaning “war,” or a different word meaning “church.”

In 1968, the name Kelly saw peak usage on the boys’ list (97th) and then-peak usage on the girls’ list (12th). In 1977, thanks to the Charlie’s Angels character, it bounced back to reach an even higher peak for girls (10th).

Lizanne

Grace’s little sister Elizabeth “Lizanne” Kelly married Donald LeVine in Philadelphia in June of 1955. The same year, the baby name Lizanne debuted on the charts:

  • 1959: 32 baby girls named Lizanne
    • 10 born in Pennsylvania
  • 1958: 39 baby girls named Lizanne [peak]
    • 13 born in Pennsylvania
  • 1957: 36 baby girls named Lizanne
    • 10 born in Pennsylvania
  • 1956: 32 baby girls named Lizanne
    • 9 born in Pennsylvania
  • 1955: 15 baby girls named Lizanne [debut]
  • 1954: unlisted

Notice how the usage of Lizanne in the late ’50s was particularly high in Pennsylvania. It was the same through most of the ’60s as well.

Rainier

Grace married Rainier III, the Prince of Monaco, in a lavish wedding in Monaco in April of 1956. The same year, the baby name Rainier debuted on the charts:

  • 1959: unlisted
  • 1958: unlisted
  • 1957: 7 baby boys named Rainier
  • 1956: 11 baby boys named Rainier [debut]
  • 1955: unlisted
  • 1954: unlisted

The name Rainier is ultimately based on the Germanic words ragin, meaning “advice, decision, counsel,” and hari, meaning “army.”

(The six bridesmaids at the wedding were named Bettina, Carolyn, Judith, Maree, Rita — actress Rita Gam — and Sally.)

Caroline

Grace and Rainier had three children: Caroline, Albert, and Stephanie. The births of the latter two didn’t seem to have an effect on U.S. baby names, but the birth of Caroline in January of 1957 did give Caroline a bump that year:

  • 1959: 1,046 baby girls named Caroline [rank: 273rd]
  • 1958: 990 baby girls named Caroline [rank: 282nd]
  • 1957: 1,135 baby girls named Caroline [rank: 253rd]
  • 1956: 702 baby girls named Caroline [rank: 329th]
  • 1955: 743 baby girls named Caroline [rank: 315th]
  • 1954: 770 baby girls named Caroline [rank: 304th]

Toward the end of 1957, John and Jacqueline Kennedy — who were still several years away from becoming President and First Lady — also welcomed a daughter named Caroline. They didn’t get the idea from Grace Kelly, though. Caroline Kennedy was named after her maternal aunt, Caroline Lee Radziwill.

Sources: Top Ten Money Making Stars Poll – Wikipedia, Rayner – Behind the Name

The Rise of Kelly as a Girl Name

kelly and me. movie, 1957, dog

During the first half of the 20th century, the name Kelly was more of a boy name than a girl name. That is, it was given far more often to baby boys than to baby girls.

But things changed in the 1950s, when the overall usage of Kelly began to rise quickly — and rise faster for girls than for boys. The first year that more girls than boys were named Kelly was 1957:

Year # Girls Named Kelly # Boys Named Kelly
1959 6,379 (rank: 74th) 2,436 (rank: 142nd)
1958 4,471 (rank: 108th) 2,299 (rank: 148th)
1957 1,907 (rank: 187th) 1,868 (rank: 167th)
1956 831 (rank: 310th) 1,472 (rank: 189th)
1955 540 (rank: 380th) 1,251 (rank: 204th)
1954 455 (rank: 406th) 960 (rank: 225th)
1953 226 (rank: 590th) 845 (rank: 232nd)

Even though the gender switch happened in 1957, usage for boys continued to rise for several more years. Only in 1962 then did the two trajectories finally start to diverge.

So what’s behind both the popularization and feminization of the name Kelly in the 1950s? There seem to be at least three different influences (and possibly others that I haven’t discovered yet). Here’s what I’ve got so far:

  • Grace Kelly: actress, most popular around 1955/1956
  • Kelly and Me: movie, released in 1957
  • Bachelor Father: television show, aired from 1957 to 1962

I have a big post about Grace Kelly-inspired baby names scheduled for tomorrow, so for now I’ll just say that, if she was an influence here, she wouldn’t be the first famous actress to inspire parents to start using her surname as a girl name. Before her was Janet Gaynor, June Allyson, Cyd Charisse, Debra Paget, Denise Darcel, Pier Angeli, etc.

The movie Kelly and Me, which co-starred Piper Laurie, is weirdly reminiscent of the 2008 movie Marley and Me. Both films feature a male dog as a main character, and both titular names saw increased usage as baby names — particularly girl names — the years the movies were released. Apparently neither the species nor the gender of the character mattered much to parents. (Here’s the popularity graph for Marley.)

The TV show Bachelor Father focused on a wealthy Beverly Hills attorney named Bentley Gregg who is raising his orphaned teenage niece, a female Kelly. The show clearly gave the name Bentley a boost in the late ’50s and early ’60s, nudging it into the top 1,000 for the first time in 1961, so no doubt it also helped American audiences see Kelly as a nice name for a daughter.

Do you like the name Kelly? Do you like it more as a girl name or as a boy name? (Or does it not matter to you?)