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

The graph will take a few seconds to load, thanks for your patience. (Don't worry, it shouldn't take nine months.) If it's taking too long, try reloading the page.

Popularity of the Baby Name Leslie

Number of Babies Named Leslie

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Leslie

Gelsey, the Ballerina Baby Name

Gelsey Kirkland, 1979, TIME cover
Gelsey Kirkland as Kitri (Don Quixote)
One of the pop culture baby names we’re keeping an eye on right now is Misty, which may have gotten a boost in 2015 thanks to ballerina Misty Copeland.

But before we find out about Misty (in a matter of days!) let’s talk about Gelsey, which debuted in 1979:

  • 1980: unlisted
  • 1979: 5 baby girls named Gelsey [debut]
  • 1978: unlisted

The inspiration? American ballerina Gelsey Kirkland, whose first name is pronounced with a hard g, like Gilbert and Gertrude.

Gelsey Kirkland started dancing at the age of 8. She was asked to join the New York City Ballet (NYCB) in 1968, at the age of 15. She was promoted to soloist in 1970, then promoted to principal dancer (the highest rank possible) in 1972.

In the mid-1970s, she left the NYCB to join the American Ballet Theater and begin her famous partnership with Mikhail Baryshnikov. They danced together in Giselle, Sleeping Beauty, Romeo and Juliet, and most famously in a televised performance of The Nutcracker, which aired in late 1977.

In May of 1978, Gelsey — dressed as Kitri from Don Quixote — was featured on the cover of Time magazine. This cover is likely what gave her name the exposure it needed to land on the SSA’s baby name list in 1979.

[She might have had an even earlier impact on the charts had she performed alongside Baryshnikov, as planned, in the dance movie The Turning Point (1977). Instead the part was played by ballerina Leslie Browne, who received an Oscar nomination.]

She left dance for a while during in the mid-1980s (due to drug addiction, among other things) but eventually returned. These days she teaches at the Gelsey Kirkland Academy of Classical Ballet in New York City.

The name Gelsey also returned: It’s been a regular on the SSA’s list since the mid-1990s.

What do you think of the name Gelsey?


Names Popular During the Victorian Era

Tuesday’s post about the Victorian-style Tylney Hall Hotel reminded me of a list of Victorian-era names that I’ve had bookmarked forever.

The list was created by amateur genealogist G. M. Atwater as a resource for writers. It contains names and name combinations that were commonly seen in the U.S. from the 1840s to the 1890s. Below is the full list (with a few minor changes).

Victorian Era Female Names Victorian Era Male Names
  • Abigale / Abby
  • Ada
  • Adella
  • Agnes
  • Allie
  • Almira / Almyra
  • Alva
  • America
  • Amelia
  • Ann / Annie
  • Arrah
  • Beatrice
  • Bernice
  • Charity
  • Charlotte
  • Chastity
  • Claire
  • Constance
  • Cynthia
  • Dorothy / Dot
  • Edith
  • Edna
  • Edwina
  • Ella
  • Eleanor
  • Ellie
  • Elizabeth / Eliza / Liza / Lizzy / Bess / Bessie / Beth / Betsy
  • Elvira
  • Emma
  • Esther
  • Ethel
  • Eudora
  • Eva
  • Fidelia
  • Frances / Fanny
  • Flora
  • Florence
  • Geneve
  • Genevieve
  • Georgia
  • Gertrude / Gertie
  • Gladys
  • Grace
  • Hannah
  • Hattie
  • Helen
  • Helene
  • Henrietta / Hettie / Ettie
  • Hester
  • Hope
  • Hortence
  • Isabell / Isabella
  • Jane
  • Jennie
  • Jessamine
  • Josephine
  • Judith
  • Julia
  • Juliet
  • Katherine / Kate
  • Laura
  • Leah
  • Lenora
  • Letitia
  • Lila
  • Lilly
  • Lorena
  • Lorraine
  • Lottie
  • Louise / Louisa
  • Lucy
  • Lulu
  • Lydia
  • Mahulda
  • Margaret / Peggie
  • Mary / Molly / Polly
  • Mary Elizabeth
  • Mary Frances
  • Martha
  • Matilda / Mattie
  • Maude
  • Maxine / Maxie
  • Mercy
  • Mildred
  • Minerva
  • Missouri
  • Myrtle
  • Nancy
  • Natalie
  • Nellie / Nelly
  • Nettie
  • Nora
  • Orpha
  • Patsy
  • Parthena
  • Permelia
  • Phoebe
  • Philomena
  • Preshea
  • Rachel
  • Rebecca / Becky
  • Rhoda / Rhody
  • Rowena
  • Rufina
  • Ruth
  • Samantha
  • Sally
  • Sarah
  • Sarah Ann
  • Sarah Elizabeth
  • Savannah
  • Selina
  • Sophronia
  • Stella
  • Theodosia / Theda
  • Vertiline / Verd
  • Victoria
  • Virginia / Ginny
  • Vivian
  • Winnifred / Winnie
  • Zona
  • Zylphia
  • Aaron
  • Abraham / Abe
  • Alan / Allen
  • Albert
  • Alexander
  • Alonzo
  • Ambrose
  • Amon
  • Amos
  • Andrew / Drew / Andy
  • Aquilla
  • Archibald / Archie
  • Arnold
  • Asa
  • August / Augustus / Gus
  • Barnabas / Barney
  • Bartholomew / Bart
  • Benjamin
  • Bennet
  • Benedict
  • Bernard
  • Bertram / Bert
  • Buford
  • Byron
  • Calvin
  • Cephas
  • Charles / Charley / Charlie
  • Christopher
  • Christopher Columbus
  • Clarence
  • Clement / Clem
  • Clinton / Clint
  • Cole
  • Columbus / Lom / Lum
  • Commodore Perry
  • Daniel / Dan
  • David
  • Edmund
  • Edward / Ned
  • Edwin
  • Eldon
  • Eli
  • Elijah
  • Elisha
  • Emmett
  • Enoch
  • Ezekiel / Zeke
  • Ezra
  • Francis / Frank
  • Franklin
  • Frederick / Fred
  • Gabriel / Gabe
  • Garrett
  • George
  • George Washington
  • Gideon
  • Gilbert / Gil
  • Granville
  • Harland
  • Harrison
  • Harold / Harry
  • Harvey
  • Henry / Hank
  • Hiram
  • Horace
  • Horatio
  • Hugh
  • Isaiah
  • Israel
  • Isaac / Ike
  • Isaac Newton
  • Jacob / Jake
  • James / Jim
  • Jasper
  • Jefferson / Jeff
  • Jedediah / Jed
  • Jeptha
  • Jesse
  • Joel
  • John / Jack
  • John Paul
  • John Wesley
  • Jonathan
  • Joseph / Josephus
  • Josiah
  • Joshua
  • Julian
  • Julius
  • Lafayette / Lafe
  • Lawrence / Larry
  • Leander
  • Les / Lester / Leslie
  • Lewis / Lew / Louis
  • Levi
  • Lucas
  • Lucian
  • Lucius
  • Luke
  • Luther
  • Louis
  • Levi
  • Lucas
  • Lucian
  • Lucius
  • Luke
  • Luther
  • Matthew
  • Marcellus
  • Mark
  • Martin
  • Martin Luther
  • Masheck
  • Maurice
  • Maxwell
  • Merrill
  • Meriwether
  • Meriwether Lewis
  • Michael / Mike
  • Micajah / Cage
  • Mordecai
  • Morgan
  • Morris
  • Nathaniel / Nathan / Nate / Nat
  • Newton / Newt
  • Nicholas / Nick
  • Nimrod
  • Ninian
  • Obediah
  • Octavius
  • Ora / Oral
  • Orville
  • Oscar
  • Owen
  • Paul
  • Patrick / Pat
  • Patrick Henry
  • Paul
  • Perry
  • Peter
  • Pleasant
  • Ralph
  • Raymond
  • Reuben
  • Robert / Bob
  • Robert Lee
  • Richard / Rich / Dick
  • Roderick
  • Rudolph
  • Rufus
  • Samuel
  • Sam Houston
  • Seth
  • Silas
  • Simon
  • Simeon
  • Stanley / Stan
  • Stephen
  • Thaddeus
  • Thomas / Tom
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • Theodore / Ted
  • Timothy / Tim
  • Ulysses
  • Uriah
  • Victor
  • Walter
  • Warren
  • Washington
  • Wilfred
  • William / Will / Bill / Billy
  • Willie
  • Zachariah
  • Zebulon
  • Zedock

Which female name and male name do you like best?

Source: Victorian Era Names, A Writer’s Guide

Goodbye, Gertrude…Again

Last month I spotted an article about the decline of certain old-fashioned baby names in the UK.

(The first two words in the title were “Goodbye Gertrude.” Wait a minute, I thought. Hasn’t the UK already said goodbye to Gertrude? Hm.)


The article, drawing from a recent study, listed baby names that are now “extinct,” “endangered,” and “at risk” in the UK.

  • Extinct Baby Names (no longer on the England & Wales baby name list)
    • Cecil, Rowland, Willie
    • Bertha, Blodwen*, Fanny, Gertrude, Gladys, Margery, Marjorie, Muriel
  • Endangered Baby Names (fallen in prevalence by 99% since 1905)
    • Clifford, Horace, Harold, Leslie, Norman
    • Doris, Edna, Ethel, Hilda, Marion, Phyllis
  • At-Risk Baby Names (fallen in prevalence by 98% since 1905)
    • Arnold, Bernard, Clarence, Cyril, Ernest, Fred, Herbert, Percy, Roland, Sydney, Trevor, Walter
    • Ann, Dorothy, Eveline, Freda, Gwendoline, Irene, Jane, Janet, Jennie, Lilian, Lizzie, Margaret, Mary, Maud, Mildred, Nellie, Rhoda, Winifred

I wonder how Derek fared in their study.

The article also mentioned that, over the years, some names have been outpaced by their diminutive forms — Alfred by Alfie, Frederick by Freddie, Archibald by Archie, Charles by Charlie, Alexandra by Lexi, Sophia by Sophie, Eleanor by Ellie, and so forth.

*Blodwen is Welsh for “white flowers.” The Breton form is Bleuzen, in case you were wondering.

Sources: Goodbye Gertrude, hello Lexi: records show UK demise of some baby names, Cecil, Bertha and Gertrude — Britain’s ‘Endangered’ Names Revealed

The Baby Name Dondi

dondiThe comic strip Dondi was first published in 1955.

The strip featured a little Italian boy who was orphaned during WWII. When he was discovered by American soldiers, he was looking for his parents, saying “donde?” over and over again.* So the soldiers dubbed him Dondi.

One of the soldiers adopted him and brought to the U.S. Logically, “the early focus of the strip was Dondi’s discovery of America.”

In 1956, the name Dondi appeared for the first time on the Social Security Administration’s baby name list:

  • 1962: 48 baby boys and 24 baby girls named Dondi
  • 1961: 50 baby boys and 19 baby girls named Dondi
  • 1960: 17 baby boys and 10 baby girls named Dondi
  • 1959: 14 baby boys named Dondi
  • 1958: 23 baby boys and 5 baby girls named Dondi
  • 1957: 31 baby boys named Dondi
  • 1956: 19 baby boys and 7 baby girls named Dondi [debut]
  • 1955: (unlisted)

One of Dondi’s first namesakes was Stephen Dondi Thomas, born in late 1955 to Mr. and Mrs. Leslie F. Thomas of Dayton, Ohio. “The Thomases named him as they did because the illegal entry problems of the comic strip Dondi closely paralleled the experience of their daughter, Janie, 4.” Born in Italy to an Italian mother and an American father, Janie was facing deportation under the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Both the strip and the name peaked in popularity in the early ’60s. The strip ran until 1986; the name last appeared on the SSA’s list in 2002.

*I know donde means “where” in Spanish, but I don’t know if it’s used in Italian. Anyone know? (Should the strip’s writers have used dove instead?)


  • “Comic Strip Orphan Gets a Namesake.” Chicago Tribune 26 Dec. 1955: C5.
  • Dondi @ Toonpedia
  • Johnson., Steven K. “Goodbye.” Chicago Tribune 9 Jun. 1986.

Baby Named Camryn after Toyota Camry

On 2 September 2008, Leslie Russell gave birth to a baby girl in the front passenger seat of a Toyota Camry parked outside the University of Chicago Medical center (with the help of a pediatrician who happened to be walking by). She named the baby girl Claire Camryn–Camryn after the Camry. Russell said:

If she’s upset with me later, I’ll tell her she’s lucky she wasn’t born in a Daewoo!

Source: Baby named after car

(Want to see other car names?)

How Similar Should Twin Names Be?

Let’s say you’re expecting twins. Do you look for baby names that sound alike? (How much alike?) Do you avoid names that sound alike?

I prefer twin names that:

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

P.S. Former NBA player Fennis Dembo and his twin sister Fenise were the last of 11 children. They were named by their oldest sister, Zona, who thought the family had grown large enough at that point and (rather cleverly) suggested baby names based on the word finis. (Source:

Unique Baby Names from Literature

The was originally the round-up post of a 31-post series on literature names for National Book Month. I’ve since condensed all of those individual posts into this one post.

I picked many of these names because they were either popularized by literature or first used as given names in literature:


Amanda is based on the Latin gerundive amanda, which means “she who must be loved.” It was used as a name in Europe starting in the mid-17th century. In literature, Amanda perhaps first appeared in the comedy Love’s Last Shift (1696) by English playwright and actor Colley Cibber (1671-1757).


Before Amaryllis was a plant, it was a name: Amaryllis was created by the Latin poet Virgil (70-19 BC) for a shepherdess in his pastoral Eclogues. Amaryllis is based on the Latin word amarysso, which means “to sparkle.”

Take ashes, Amaryllis, fetch them forth,
And o’er your head into the running brook
Fling them, nor look behind: with these will
Upon the heart of Daphnis make essay.
(Eclogue VIII)


Amory Blaine is the main character in This Side of Paradise (1920), the successful debut novel of American writer Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald (1896-1940). Many believe that Fitzgerald modeled the wealthy, handsome protagonist after himself (at least in part).


Harper Lee‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird (1960) features Atticus Finch, respected lawyer and father of the book’s protagonist, Scout. Lee named Atticus after Roman eques Titus Pomponius Atticus.


Belinda was a character in The Provok’d Wife (1697), a comedic play written by English architect and dramatist Sir John Vanbrugh (c.1664-1726). Belinda may have been based on the Italian word bella, which means beautiful. It was later used by Alexander Pope in The Rape of the Lock (1712).


The romance between Beren and Lúthien was first told in prose in The Silmarillion, by writer and Oxford professor John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (1892-1973).

Therefore at the last he yielded his will, and Beren took the hand of Lúthien before the throne of her father.
(The Silmarillion, Chapter 19)

A romantic sidenote: The name Beren is engraved on Tolkien’s gravestone, while Lúthien is on the gravestone belonging to Tolkien’s wife, Edith.


John Binkerson “Binx” Bolling is the film-obsessed main character of The Moviegoer (1961), a National Book Award-winning novel by American author Walker Percy (1916-1990).


Cedric was created by Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832) for his novel Ivanhoe, which was written in 1819 but set in the 12th century. The name was probably inspired by that of Cerdic, the legendary founder of the Kingdom of Wessex.


Clarinda was coined by English poet Edmund Spenser (c.1552-1599) in The Faerie Queene.

Goe now, Clarinda, well thy wits aduise,
And all thy forces gather vnto thee;
(The Faerie Queene, Book V, Canto V)

Two centuries later, Robert Burns (1759-1796) addressed several poems to ‘Clarinda.’

Fair Empress of the Poet’s soul,
And Queen of Poetesses;
Clarinda, take this little boon,
This humble pair of glasses:
(Verses To Clarinda)


French author Victor Hugo (1802-1885) created the orphan Cosette for his novel Les Misérables (1862).

Les Misérables the musical, which debuted in London in October of 1985, has become one of the most successful musicals in history.

UPDATE: The latest Les Miserables movie comes out Dec. 25, 2012.


Dorian Gray, whose portrait ages while Dorian himself does not, was invented by Anglo-Irish writer Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) for the gothic horror novel The Picture of Dorian Gray. Wilde may have borrowed the name from the ancient Hellenic tribe the Dorians.


Dulcinea del Toboso is a fictional character who’s referred to (but does not appear) in Don Quixote de la Mancha, written by Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616).


Eglantine is another name for sweetbrier, a pink-flowered plant native to Britain and northern Europe. Geoffrey Chaucer (1343-1400) first employed Eglantine as a given name, using it for Madame Eglantine in his Canterbury Tales:

Ther was also a nonne, a prioresse,
That of hir smylyng was ful symple and coy;
Hire gretteste ooth was but by Seinte Loy;
And she was cleped Madame Eglentyne.
(Prologue, lines 118-121)


Geraldine was originally an adjective that referred to Ireland’s FitzGerald dynasty. It was first used as a name by English aristocrat Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (1517-1547).

Honsdon did first present her to mine yien:
Bright is her hewe, and Geraldine she hight.
(Description and praise of his loue Geraldine.)

Geraldine was later popularized by Samuel Taylor Coleridge‘s poem Christabel.

Yet he who saw this Geraldine,
Had deemed her sure a thing divine.
(Christabel, Part II, Stanza 11)


Holden Caulfield is the cynical, sensitive teenage protagonist of The Catcher in the Rye (1951), written by reclusive American author J. D. Salinger. Holden also appears in several of Salinger’s short stories. Holden was the second-best fictional character of the 20th century, according to Book magazine.


Imogen is the name of the king’s daughter in Shakespeare’s play The Tragedy of Cymbeline, King of Britain (c.1609). The prevailing theory is that Imogen was actually meant to be Innogen — a name based on the Gaelic word inghean, meaning “girl, maiden” or “daughter” — but it was misspelled and the mistake was never corrected.


The character of Jancis Beguildy was created by English romantic novelist Mary Webb (1881-1927) for her book Precious Bane (1924). Jancis is a modern blend of the names Jan and Francis.


Kilgore Trout regularly appears in books by Kurt Vonnegut. (And in other books, like phone books.) The character of Kilgore may be based on Theodore Sturgeon, or may be a parody of Vonnegut himself.


Lesley is a variant of the name Leslie, which is derived from a Scottish place name. Lesley-with-a-y is interesting because it was first used by Scottish poet Robert Burns (1759-1796) in his poem/song Saw Ye Bonie Lesley (1792).

Thou art a queen, fair Lesley,
Thy subjects, we before thee;
Thou art divine, fair Lesley,
The hearts o’ men adore thee.
(Saw Ye Bonie Lesley, Stanza 3)


Lestat de Lioncourt is a character in The Vampire Chronicles, a series of novels by Anne Rice. Rice “thought Lestat was an old Louisiana name.” She learned later that the name she was thinking of was actually Lestan.


Lucasta was first used by English poet Richard Lovelace (1618-1658). It’s a contraction of Lux Casta (Chaste Lucy), Lovalace’s nickname for a woman he’d been courting.

If to be absent were to be
Away from thee;
Or that when I am gone,
You or I were alone;
Then, my Lucasta, might I crave
Pity from blustering wind or swallowing wave.
(To Lucasta, going beyond the Seas)


The name Miranda was invented by William Shakespeare (1564-1616) for a character in The Tempest. Miranda is based on the Latin word mirandus, which means “admirable.”

Twelve year since, Miranda, twelve year since,
Thy father was the Duke of Milan and
A prince of power.
(The Tempest, Act 1, Scene II)

Uranus’s small moon Miranda, discovered in 1948, was named after the Shakespearean character.


Mireille is the French title of Provençal poem Mirèio (1859). The poem was written by French writer Frédéric Mistral (1830-1914), who shared the 1904 Nobel Prize for Literature with José Echegaray y Eizaguirre. Mistral probably derived ‘Mirèio’ from the Provençal verb mirar, which means “to admire.”


Orinthia was used by Nobel Prize-winning Irish-British playwright George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) in his play The Apple Cart (1929). In the play, King Magnus refers to his mistress as “Orinthia.” When the mistress discovers that Magnus did not invent the name especially for her, she becomes angry. He responds:

Well, one poet may consecrate a name for another. Orinthia is a name full of magic for me. It could not be that if I had invented it myself. I heard it at a concert of ancient music when I was a child; and I have treasured it ever since.
(The Apple Cart, Interlude)

At that “concert of ancient music,” Magnus must have heard the old English ballad The Pilgrim of Love, which–according to the Catalogue of Ballads at Oxford’s Bodleian Library–begins “Orinthia my béloved, I call in vain…”


Pamela was created by English writer Sir Philip Sidney (1554-1586) for The Countess of Pembroke’s Arcadia. The name was probably derived from the Greek words pan (all) and meli (honey). A century and a half later, Samuel Richardson‘s first novel–named Pamela in honor of Sidney’s heroine–was published.


Quoyle is the main character in E. Annie Proulx‘s The Shipping News (1993), which won the National Book Award, the Pulitzer Prize, and happens to be one of my favorite books. The novel was inspired by The Ashley Book of Knots, and, aptly, “quoyle” is an Old English spelling of coil.


The name Selima was first used in literature by English writer and scholar Thomas Gray (1716-1771). He used it as the name of a cat. Neither the name nor the cat were Gray’s inventions, though. Selima the cat had belonged to fellow Englishman and writer Horace Walpole (1717-1797).


The male name Shirley became feminized with the 1849 publication of Charlotte Bronte’s novel Shirley. Previously, Shirley had been a surname and, before that, a place name.

She had no Christian name but Shirley: her parents, who had wished to have a son…bestowed on her the same masculine family cognomen they would have bestowed on a boy, if with a boy they had been blessed.
(Shirley, Part 2, Chapter XI)


The rebellious Sula Peace, who becomes a pariah in her socially conservative Ohio town, is the main character of Toni Morrison‘s novel Sula (1973). Sula may be short for Ursula, a Latin name meaning “little bear.”


Vanessa was invented by Irish author Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) as a pseudonym for his friend (and perhaps lover) Esther Vanhomrigh: “van” comes from Vanhomrigh, and “essa” is based on a pet form of Esther.

While thus Cadenus entertains
Vanessa in exalted strains,
The nymph in sober words intreats
A truce with all sublime conceits.
(Cadenus and Vanessa)

Vanessa was later used as the name of a genus of butterfly.


Though Scottish writer J. M. Barrie (1860-1937) didn’t invent the name Wendy, he did popularize it with his character Wendy Darling. For Barrie, the name was inspired by a young acquaintance (the daughter of poet William Henley, 1849-1903), who mispronounced the word friend as “fwendy.”

“What’s your name?” he asked.
“Wendy Moira Angela Darling,” she replied with some satisfaction. “What is your name?”
“Peter Pan.”
(Peter Pan, Chapter 3)

There are many other interesting literature names out there. Did I miss any particularly good ones?