Head to any elementary school and you’ll find an Abigail or three – and yet you probably won’t find a single girl answering to this name.
Thanks to Sarah M. for suggesting Abby’s other half as Name of the Day: Gail.
Between 1937 and 1961, Gail was a Top 100 choice. Nickname forms often follow their more formal versions up the charts. But during the same era, Abigail rarely appeared in the US Top 1000.
Today, the situation is reversed. Abigail ranks in the Top Ten, while Gail left the charts entirely after 1986.
In nature, a gale is a strong, gusting wind – the kind that prompts meteorologists to issue advisories. According to the Beaufort scale, gales are stronger than a breeze and just a bit more mild than a storm. It might not be the image that you imagine for a child’s name, even though it might be fitting during the toddler years.
So is there a case for bestowing Gail as an independent name?
Abigail clearly comes from the Hebrew – the first element refers to father and the second to joy, so the common definition given is “my father is joy.” Most sites simply list Gail as a nickname.
But the meteorological term has different roots. It could trace back to words that mean furious, intense, even bewitched. Or it might trace back to the Old English galan – to sing – as in the nightingale.
Gail can also be linked to the word gala, which comes from galer, to make merry.
Throw in the fictional Dorothy Gale of Kansas, heroine of the Wizard of Oz, and the name takes on a literary, adventurous feel – and a surname vibe, too. From the 1930s through the 1970s, Gale ranked for girls and boys.
Besides Dorothy, there are a few other notable bearers of the name:
- Top Chef features Gail Simmons of Food & Wine Magazine;
- The cast of British soap Coronation Street has included character Gail Platt since 1974;
- Gale Gordon got his start in radio. After making a splash in classics like Fibber McGee and Molly and Flash Gordon, he moved to television, eventually playing Theodore J. Mooney opposite Lucille Ball on The Lucy Show;
- Hollywood gives us Gale Sondergaard (born Edith), remembered for winning the first ever Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, back in 1936;
- Honor Blackman played the confident, leather-clad Dr. Cathy Gale on The Avengers in the 1960s;
- Country crooner Crystal Gayle lends the name a musical edge.
While Gail’s Baby Boomer credentials are against her, she could fit right in with popular picks like Brooke and Paige, as well as emerging options like Blair and Sloane.
She’s simple, breezy and stands on her own surprisingly well.