Is the emphasis on the first syllable or the second? Is this name meant for a boy or a girl?
Thanks to Maia for suggesting Lael as our Baby Name of the Day.
You’ll hear some say that this name is correctly pronounced lah ELLE, while others argue for LAY elle. It’s rarer than rare, making this a tough question to resolve.
What we know for sure is that Lael is Hebrew. It is mentioned fleetingly in the Old Testament as a masculine name – the father of Eliasaph, leader of the Gershonites.
While the original bearer of the name was male, most of the uses of the name have been feminine:
- Alaska’s Hall of Fame includes journalist and writer Lael Morgan, especially admired for her work bringing attention to issues impacting Natives peoples.
- Lael Brainerd is an economist who has held high ranking positions at the Department of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve.
- Children’s author Lael Littke has penned lots of young adult fiction, including the creepy thrilled Prom Dress. Littke is a Mormon, so one of her series is set in the context of a youth group for teenage girls within the faith.
- Time journalist Lael Tucker married fellow writer Charles Wertenbaker. She wrote an account of husband’s illness and death, which was later adapted as a play called A Gift of Time. The couple has two children – a son named Christian and a daughter with the fascinating name Timberlake.
- Singer Tamia and NBA star Grant Hill have two daughters: Myla Grace and Lael Rose.
Add it up and this name is rare, rare, rare – but not unknown. In 2012, 68 newborn girls received the name, and 22 boys. While it still trends feminine, the name has been increasing in use for both genders.
I did find La’el Collins, a Louisiana State University football player, and one of the few prominent men answering to the name. He always write his name with the break between the two syllables; most other Laels do not.
Lael does surface as a middle name out there on message boards and blogs: Zion Lael, Kitra Lael. It works for both genders very nicely.
Looking at the popularity of L- names and -el names right now, Lael seems like a possibility. A handful of women have been named Laelle or Layelle, possibly respelled in an attempt to make the pronunciation more obvious. Laelle reminds me of a mangled French phrase – la elle, the she – and yet, it also seems more complete, especially in an age when Annabelle and Isabelle are more popular than Annabel and Isabel in the US.
Either way, Lael fits in with:
- Boys’ names Gabriel, Samuel, and several others ends-with-el names. Though there’s no equivalent of Sam or Gabe for this name.
- We’re all about girls’ names with the letter L, and especially double Ls, like Lily and all of her associated names, Lila, and so on.
- And, of course, there’s Gabrielle, Brielle, Giselle and all of those other -elle names, including obscurities and inventions like Mielle.
All together, there’s plenty of room to argue that Lael would work in 2014. If you’re after a Biblical rarity, this is one to consider – for a son or a daughter.