The year was 1982. Joan Jett, Survior and the Human League were on the radio. E.T. phoned home on the silver screen, and Rocky fought Mr. T. And in a fictional town called Salem, the character Kayla Brady first appeared on the soap opera Days of Our Lives.
Unlike some soap-sudsy names, Kayla wasn’t created for the show. On the contrary, this obscure variant of Katherine first appeared in the Top 1000 back in 1959.
But the character did lead to an explosion of baby girls named Kayla. In 1981, it was the 581st most popular name for baby girls born in the US. By 1982? It was 133. And in 1983, it broke the Top 100, coming in at 81.
By 1988, it was firmly established in the Top 20, and remained there until 2004, peaking at #11 in 1995.
Today, the Kayla variants are many, ranging from Kaylie/Kaylee/Kaileigh to Kaylynn, Kylinn and Kayci.
But there is a more appealing direction to take your Kayla variant – drop the first “a” and, if you want to really improve on this popular choice, swap out the first letter, too.
Kyla is generally considered a feminine variant of Kyle, a Top 100 choice for boys since 1974. The name has some appeal. It brings to mind Kai, a Hawaiian name meaning ocean, as well as Kaia, like Kayla, another variant of Katherine, this time used in Scandinavia. But ultimately, Kyla must be dismissed as too easily confused with Kayla and kompany, and too close to the flimsy Kylie. As a friend of mine once said about choosing baby names, “We’re going to assume that our daughter will never sing on the Disney Channel.” Well said. Kyla was the 204th most popular name in 2006.
Not too far from ApMtn’s HQ, we recently welcomed a baby girl called Myla. The name caught our ear. While it is just one letter removed from Kyla, there’s something about M. M for Mary, for Margaret, for Madeline – it kicks off a host of substantial, classic girls’ names. And so while Myla has the disadvantage of blending in with Maya and Mia, it still makes for an appealing name choice. Short, simple, easy to pronounce, but just a little different. As of 2006, Myla was the 918th most popular name given to baby girls in the US.
But for the truly adventurous, trade out that “M” for a “Tw” and arrive at the mysterious appellation Twyla. The name shimmers with the artistic genius of dancer and choreographer Twyla Tharp. It has a certain nature name appeal, as it is believed to be based on the word twilight. And, believe it or not, it has the longest pedigree of any of the -yla names, having first appeared in the Top 1000 back in 1925.
Twyla is also nickname-proof, a quality many parents admire. And while it works well for a young girl, the interesting “Tw” at the top of this name allow it to transition gracefully into adulthood, too.
It should be noted that Miss Tharp’s parents apparently overheard the name while attending the Muncie Fair, near their home in Indiana. A Miss Twila Thornburg was crowned Pig Princess that year, and apparently, the name stuck with the expectant Tharps. A humble beginning for the name, to be sure, but a fabulous story.
Despite many years of appearing in the Top 1000, Twyla was last ranked in 1965. The name is nicely obscure, but instantly familiar nonetheless.