Is there such a thing as an authentic Australian heritage choice?

Thanks to Jen for suggesting Kylie as Name of the Day.

Some say that Kylie comes from an Australian aboriginal term for a boomerang.

About Abby Sandel

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What do you think?


  1. Well, it’s fun having my name as NOTD! I am 23 years old, and had no trouble finding work at a top-notch advertising agency out of college, so I don’t think the aging thing is much of an issue. When I was given the name, even though it was on the charts it was nowhere near as popular as it became about ten years later. I am a sibling to Abby and Joshua, so it’s strange that my parents picked my name over another classic, but I’ve never minded the name. I never met another Kylie my age in grade school, college, or in my professional life. They are invariably much younger than me. It’s easy to pronounce and spell, it’s pretty, and while not terribly unusual, not terribly over-used, either. I wouldn’t choose this name for my own little girl, but growing up with it was a very positive experience. Much better than Jenny, Jessica, Michele, or Jamie – I grew up with about 14 of each of those.
    I’ve never heard the boomerang reference…I was always told it’s just a female version of Kyle. Thanks for the post!

    1. Thanks for sharing, Kylie! I think you might find that advertising is more forgiving than other fields. (I’m in communications myself – it isn’t really a buttoned-down kind of gig.)

      But had life taken you down another path, well … my sister is a corporate exec, and she loathes her ends-in-i name. That’s part of the gamble. Margaret can always be Maggie, the cheerleading coach. Or Meg, the journalist. Or … well you get the point. But call your daughter Rylee and you’d better hope she grows up to be, say, a graphic artist or a singer or a cruise director. Because Rylee the attorney general? Sure, it could happen. But it doesn’t feel quite right.

  2. I never really bought the boomerang thing. I have yet to find any legitimate sources that confirm that meaning. Do you have any idea why some baby name books started to list its meaning as boomerang and its origin as aboriginal Australian?

    I think the name is too cutsy on an adult woman.

    1. I’ve hit a brick wall on the boomerang reference, Sebastiane. I suspect it is like Katherine. Nearly every reference lists her meaning as “pure,” but odds are that’s an after-the-fact link between two words that sound similar, but have different origins. (Parents have always wanted a lovely meaning to go with a preferred sound, I suppose.)

      My money is on Kylie/Kiley emerging as a surname related to the place name – and someone linking her to a word that sounds like boomerang in an aboriginal language later.

      Of course, I’m sitting outside of Washington DC. I don’t have great access to info about Australian culture, much less aboriginal dialects. The Noongar reference? I plain old can’t find it. I dug through a bunch of early 19th century dictionaries and grammars. One did list the word for boomerang – curl. Another listed tons of specific implements, from a throwing stick (dowak) to personal adornments made of kangaroo bone and opossum hair – but no kylie in either.

      Plus there are few native Noongar speakers left in Australia. And it is likely that there were multiple dialects of Noongar pre-European settlement – and that the language changed substantially after the Europeans arrived. (And why wouldn’t it? All living languages change constantly.)

      I couldn’t get my hands on a Kylie Tennant bio that mentioned anything much about her early years – perhaps she (or her parents) are responsible for the reference? But would middle class parents of the era really give their daughter an aboriginal middle name? It seems far more likely that Kylie was a family surname.

      And I tend to agree that Kylie doesn’t age well – but I can’t quite think why. After all, Mary ages nicely. But those “ie” names do tend to feel a bit fleeting – roots or no.

      So … I’m with you on boomerang.

      1. I’m wondering if the reason it doesn’t age well is because it forever sounds like a diminutive – Kylie sounds like a feminized version of Kyle; as well as sounding like it’s short for something else as well; like…Kylissa or Kylene or Kyliana (even though it’s not – pretty sure I just made those names up). Mary, on the other hand is the full bag of mushrooms, so it doesn’t sound like it’s short for anything, or that it’s a spin-off on a male name.

        Essentially, Kylie has the feel of being named Annie or Carrie – and nothing else.

        1. You’re right, Kat – and I’ve known a Carrie, just Carrie, as well as a Julie, just Julie. I always find the names incomplete. I guess Kylie fits into that category, too.

          Love the phrase “full bag of mushrooms,” btw!

      2. The Noongar/Nyoongar/Nyungar reference to kylie as a boomerang is all over the web! Although, further digging leads me to believe that a Warlpiri (Northern Terr. tribe) word, karli, is where kylie/kiley et al came from. Possible later corruptions. A few linguistic papers (I partially access) seem to back that up.

        Regardless, it’s confusing and I too subscribe to the notion that use stems from the anglicised Irish surname Kiley (one of many forms) and it later becoming associated with the object.

        It reminds me of another quintessentially Australian name, Narelle. There’s confusion over that one also.

  3. Nicely said, Kat. Kylie is slightly insubstantial for my taste; “ie” endings, with the possible exception of Melanie, somehow strilke me as a bit frothy. That said, Kylie does undoubtedly sound happy and upbeat, as Verity surmised, and even though it’s not my style, I can readily see the appeal.

  4. Kylie is trendy and young-sounding, and for that reason I would not use it myself. However, I think it is pleasant enough, and not worth any vitriol.
    Kylie is also the name of my four year old niece. She is vibrant and beautiful and the center of the family in a lot of ways. I have a sneaking suspicion that if we know a wonderful person that we love very much with a name we find overused or whatever, we wouldn’t be as quick to call it ugly or say we despise it. The opposite is true too. I’ve known very hateful people with beautiful names that sour that name for me in my mind.
    It’s all perspective.

    1. Exactly so, Kat! I have dear friends with a darling daughter called Kayla, and another set of friends with a son called Braeden. The “wonderful people” effect really does change how we see names.

  5. Ugh. I really despise this name, pretty much because I associate it with the 80s and Kylie Minogue, whom I really can’t stand, personally! I can’t see anything attractive about Kylie what-so-ever. To me it’s whiny and dated, and one of my most disliked names, sorry!

  6. The boomerang word was kiley/kylie in the Noongar language but whether this hunting tool’s name spurred use on girls, or it was Kylie Tennant, I don’t know. It’s most definitely what I’d call an true blue “Ozzie” name in common usage. I think I remember someone saying they’d come across it on females prior to Tennant in Australia. So in use for around 110 years or so.

    I really don’t like it and it’s without a doubt extremely dated in Australian and New Zealand.

  7. I don’t care for Kylie. Too trendy for me.

    One of my little cousins is named Kylie and she’s 2 years old. Cute little girl, but the name is too cutesy. Imagine her trying to get a job at some big company.

    It comes across as “little girl” to me, not 30 year old CEO. Kyleigh, Kylee, and the other variants are even worse. I even heard about a little girl named Skylie. YUCK!

    I love Kai and Kaia though. Kyle is ok.

  8. “Ky” names are my pet hate.
    They are so overused over here and everytime I hear them I think yuck.
    For me they are the epitome of trendy.

  9. I’d have to say that Kylie is not something I’d promote either. It’s all Minogue to me. I’m in agreement with photoquilty: nameblob. That said, those names are popular because they sound nice to lots of ears, so who am I to say? I’ve had several negative reactions to Imogen and I’m sure those people wonder what on earth I was thinking and “poor little girl” when they encounter us… and thank goodness not everyone has the same taste in names as I do or I’d have a crisis finding a name that I like and is unique enough for my tastes. Unlike some names, at least Kylie rhymes with “smiley” and not something rude. It doesn’t conjure some odd body part or any other icky thing… so it is, at the very least, not going to lend itself to too much teasing (other than “Loco Motion”). To each his/her own, I suppose.

  10. A few years ago, a woman I knewnamed her daughter Allison Kyleigh. She assured me that she was spelling it the traditional Irish way. Huh?

    I knew someone whose last name was Kiley, by the way – but have no idea what their ethnic background was.

    I still love Kyle, but think Kyler is crap. I said that.

    Doesn’t it seem that Kylie is maybe just the girl form of Kyle?

    I would never use this name. It would never show up on a list of mine. It is part of a name blob, unfortunately. It’s hard to find a name with a distinct sound these days that doesn’t also sound strange (Boaz = distinct/strange; Gwendolen= distinct/pretty).