Sunday Summary 11.29.15My son plays ice hockey, and while I’m not a big fan of driving, I’ve come to value the conversations we have on our many trips between home and the rink. A few days ago, I picked him up from a skills clinic. “Who else was there tonight?” I asked. He rattled off some names, finishing with, “… and Kelly.”

“Is Kelly a boy or a girl?”

“A boy, mom! Who names a girl Kelly?”

Mind blown.

Kelly was a go-to girl name during my childhood. I knew girls named Kelly and Kellie, and some who spelled it with an ‘i’ dotted with a heart, at least around sixth grade. I watched Kelly Clarkson win the first season of American Idol, marveled that Kelly Osborne had such a normal name despite being Ozzy’s daughter, admired Kelly Bundy’s fearlessness on Married … with Children and envied Kelly Taylor’s flawless blonde hair on Beverly Hills, 90210. To me, it’s a JenniferAmyMichelle name.

Except my son is right. We know a newborn boy with the middle name Kelly. There’s surfer Kelly Slater, and a handful of other men by the name, too.

It’s absolutely one of the names that I think feels fresher for a boy than a girl.

The numbers don’t show evidence of a comeback – at least not yet. Kelly (and Kelley and Kellie) are falling quickly for girls. The -y spelling is currently ranked #431 for girls, down from #10 in 1977.

The name Kelly was given to over 100 boys in 2014 – about the same over the last few years. So it’s not falling, but it’s not climbing, either.

By the time my son is having kids in twenty years? I could easily see this being a boys’ name again.

What do you think?

In other name news:

  • This story about naming a child Shifra is so interesting! After learning that bit of family history, how could they name her anything else?
  • Would any of these seven points change the way you would name your child?
  • Which reminds me, I’ve always been drawn to first initial, middle name combinations – like my name, A. Abigail Sandel. Which I never use. Because I’m not so grand. But maybe I could be …
  • Isn’t Lillian Dove a lovely, peaceful name? More nature names spotted by Names for Real include Cypress, Lake, and River.
  • A recent trip to the movies has me wondering: does Creed have possibilities as a boys’ name? (Nope, I haven’t seen the latest installment in the Rocky franchise, because I was too busy seeing the latest installment in the James Bond franchise. Is it any good? I do love the original Rocky.)
  • Speaking of names from the movies, will Eilis follow Maeve into wider use as an authentically Irish name, thanks to Brooklyn?
  • I’m beginning to think that Nancy’s last name ought to be Drew! This tale of the name Trilby is some great name sleuthing.
  • I think being named Alx would be confusing, possibly even burdensome. But not because it’s highly unusual. Because it doesn’t conform to the rules of English, quirky and contradictory though they may be. On the other hand, I’d love to be Alix.
  • This is one of my go-to musings for random downtime. I loved reading the comments and realizing that I’m not the only person waiting in line, imagining names for future children.
  • Birth announcements for Ida and Ottilie and Thea? British Baby Names makes me want to hop on the next flight for London. Would it be at all creepy if I started hanging out around a playground in a fashionable part of the city? (Yes, I know the answer is yes. Sigh. Definitely #namenerdproblems.)

That’s all for this week! As always, thank you for reading – and have a great week!

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. I like Kelly for a boy. I was fond of why Joni Mitchell used it for her daughter though, very much a colour name. (And her song, Little Green, was so heartbreaking)

    I’m also very fond of Casey on boys.

    Lillian Dove is very beautiful. Exquisite.

    Creed reminds me too much of the ’90s band. I’m trying to think of it like Faith, but cannot.

  2. When I was a little girl I named EVERY ONE of my dolls/barbies/teddy bears Kelley so to me it’s a distinctly girl name.

    And I could never name a baby Creed because the character on The Office is so strange and creepy!

  3. Interestingly, I probably knew more boy Kellys than girl Kellys growing up in the 70s and 80s. It definitely read as firmly unisex to me. I think it would seem fresher on boys now, though.

  4. The main character on the NBC show Grimm had a son named Kelly this season. The character was named after his grandmother/the main character’s mom.