Lael: Baby Name of the Day

Lael

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.

Just like the el in Elizabeth and Michael refers to God, so it does with Lael.  The meaning is usually given as simply “of God.”

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 namesLila, 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.

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15 Comments

Hello all!
My name is Laiel (pronounced lay-elle). My mom met a Native American girl with the name lael, liked it, and changed the spelling. Not sure if her name was Native American in origin, if it had a meaning, or was of a different origin. It’s so cool to see so many people with this name, although I have yet to meet someone with it. I was given a common middle name (Kristena) so I could use that if I didn’t like my my first name, but I only use that when ordering so I don’t have to hear anyone butcher my name (:

My parents named me Tiffany Lael (pronounced Lay-elle) and I always liked my middle name much more than my first, so I legally changed it even I got married and dropped off my first name. Now I am getting divorced, talking back my maiden name, and would have no middle name. So I came here looking for a good middle name to go with Lael. Suggestions?

Hi Lael – I’ll ask this Q on FB later today, but I wonder if there’s some significant person in your life that you’d like to honor? A grandmother or a literary heroine? If you’re looking just for a great middle, I wonder if you’d like something frillier, like Cordelia, or more sleek and modern, like Wren? I also like the idea of -y ending names, like Lael Kelly, Lael Mary, Lael Avery, or hey – even Lael Tiffany?

I went with Lael Rae. No particular reason. I wanted to do Rene after my grandmother, but it’s also the middle name of my Wasband’s mistress. Since she destroyed my marriage, I decided I didn’t want to be reminded of her every time I sign my name. Lol

My name is LaelAnn my parents named me after a female friend of theirs, I never realized it was masculine till I met an older guy name Lael. Made me laugh.

Lael is my son’s name and, there’s no doubt, people either love it or hate this name; there’s not much in between. I’d met a Lael a year before I named my son and immediately fell in love with the name. Just last week we were talking about names around the dinner table and I asked him how he felt about it (Lael’s 12 now). He told me he loves it and that’s what matters most. Good luck finding a perfect name for your kiddo!

PS We pronounce as a rhyme to words like: cale, sail, rail

Thank you for featuring this name! Between the comments here and on Facebook, it seems there are strong feelings on both sides about it having a masculine or feminine vibe. Not too many names fall into that category, I don’t think.

Legendary jazz singer Cab Calloway had a daughter named Lael. (His own name was short for Cabell; his wife’s name was Zulme but she went by ‘Nuffie’, and he also had a daughter named Cabella.)

It reminds me of Dale or Hale. Does it have to be a two-syllable name then? For some reason, it seems very masculine that way.

It also reminds me of Layla or Leighton… and those are definitely feminine. Hmmm… this name is interesting.

Great post!

Probably the only place I’ve heard Lael is the novelist Linda Lael Miller. Apparently Lael is her maiden name, not her middle name.

I have a daughter Lael, born April 2011. We pronounce it Lay-Elle, although when people get confused by its pronunciation, I often say “Like Israel.” (I’ve found that non-Jews get really tripped up by the a-before-e thing.) According to my Israeli father, it’s a male or female name. It really just means “son of Lael,” as a surname, as Andersson might be used as a surname in Sweden. Anyway, it’s a great name for any sex/gender! Go forth and name your babies Lael!