Girl names ending with ly are familiar. There’s white hot Everly, of course. And Ashley and Hailey and Hadley and Kimberly. And let’s not forget Holly, Molly, and Polly.
But every now and again, a different kind of girl name ending with ly pops into my head. Word names rather than more conventionally name-names. Archaic or poetic language. Place names. Adverbs and adjectives.
Ghastly doesn’t work. Neither does Vaguely or Suddenly. And Unlikely is just that.
But here are seven rare girl names ending with ly that just might wear well on a daughter, as an unconventional middle – or even a bold first.
Girl Names Ending with ly: Merrily
Once evergreen Mary has faded, but names that start with the Mar- sound, like Mariana, Marjorie, Margot, Margaret, Mara, Marley, and Meredith are all on the rise. Could this happy name join them?
Merrily is almost archaic. It’s familiar to most of us thanks to the lyrics of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” which has been around since at least the middle of the nineteenth century. We’ve been cheerfully rowing our boats down the stream ever since.
Merrily is also an adverb. Noun names are huge, and we’ve seen plenty of verb name possibilities in recent years, too. Adverbs seem like an unusual source of inspiration, but get this: Merrily has history.
Way back in 1942, 210 girls were named Merrily. In 1943, the number dropped to 120 newborns. It was a blip – in 1941, there were just 13 girls given the name, and by 1944, the name was fading quickly. It was last given to five or more newborn girls in 2001. And yet, from 1942 to 1944, Merrily was popular enough to crack the US Top 1000.
What explains the brief rise of Merrily? Marilee, a Mary-Lee smoosh, was also in use in the same era. But Nancy has the answer: Normandie Drake was a popular comic book character from Terry and the Pirates. In 1942, Normandie’s daughter, Merrily, was introduced. Nancy reports that the character Merrily was named for a real life Mary Lee.
Girl Names Ending with ly: Verily
Verily is the word that inspired the first draft of this post – more than a year ago! It’s the name of a women’s magazine, borrowed from an archaic English word meaning truly.
Even if you’ve never heard the word, it’s pretty easy to figure out the meaning. In Latin, verus means truth. Filter it through French and English, and you’ll eventually arrive at verily.
Verily reminds me of Vera and Veronica, as well as girl names ending in ly. Verity has been used as a girls’ name in small numbers over the years, with 59 girls given the name in 2014. Verily is almost completely unused, but I think that it could work well.
Girl Names Ending with ly: Truly
Verily and Truly mean the same thing, but Truly is gaining momentum as a baby name. It has a long history of sparing use, and was given to 47 girls in 2014 – a new high.
Reality television gave us a baby called Truely on Sister Wives, and True names have fared well in recent years. And it shares sounds with Ruby, Lucy, and
No surprise, then, that Truly has seen an increase in use.
Girl Names Ending with ly: Lively
Blake Lively graduated from Gossip Girl to Hollywood A-lister, complete with celebrity husband and a daughter whose name made headlines.
But how ’bout that surname? She was born Blake Ellender Brown. Lively was her mother’s maiden name, the name that her dad, actor Ernest Lively, took professionally. So it wasn’t a complete invention.
It is a great name. It means energetic or vivacious, from our word life. It could shorten to Liv. While it would be an unusual choice for a child, Hollywood surnames have inspired parents before. In fact, six girls were named Lively in 2012, followed by 22 in 2013, and 20 in 2014 – so it looks like Blake has already inspired at least a few dozen families.
Girl Names Ending with ly: Lovely
If names like Maverick and Legend can be in the US Top 1000, is Lovely unthinkable? It’s a bit less outlandish than Beauty, and has a surprisingly long history of use.
Lovely means charming or pleasing; it once meant inspiring affection, but that’s obsolete today. In JM Barrie’s enduring novel, Peter Pan tells the Darling children that there’s nothing to flying: You just think lovely wonderful thoughts and they lift you up in the air.”
I’m inclined to tuck Lovely in the middle spot, just like Terrence Howard’s new son Qirin Love. But it turns out that Lovely has been steadily used as a girl’s given name in the US. The numbers are small, but steady – six in 1918; 82 in 2014. That makes Lovely one of the more common girl names ending in ly on this list.
Girl Names Ending with ly: Sicily
Cecily is a vintage choice for a daughter, a little bit lacy and beribboned. But Sicily is something altogether different.
Sicily is the biggest island in the Mediterranean, off the coast of Italy. It’s named for an ancient tribe, and has been ruled by many over the millennia – the Greeks and Romans governed it, the Byzantines, Arabs, and Normans conquered it. Sicily became a kingdom in its own right in the 1130, but we know it best as part of Italy – even though Italian unification didn’t come until the nineteenth century.
Unlike Florence, Venice, or Rome, it’s not on every tourist’s must-see list, but it’s still a frequent destination for travelers. And Sicily is broadly familiar to most.
Of course, Sicily is best known as the birthplace of the Mafia, which was romanticized in Mario Puzo’s The Godfather. The 1969 novel became a bestseller, and the 1972 movie a perpetual favorite. In 1973, Sicily was given to 12 girls – the first time it registered on the US Social Security charts.
Given parent’s affection for place names, Sicily could wear well in 2016. There were 50 newborn Sicilys in 2014, the most recent year for which data is available.
Girl Names Ending with ly: Italy
Not so sure about Sicily? Another of the girl names ending in ly is Italy.
The place name pre-dates the Romans, and the meaning and origin are much disputed. Well over 5 million Italians immigrated to the US beginning in the nineteenth century, meaning that there are plenty of Italian-Americans, and maybe even more who just plain love the language, cuisine, and all things Italian.
If we can name our children Ireland, then it’s no surprise that Italy, too, has seen some use as a given name, as far back as the 1910s.
In 2014, there were 84 newborn girls named Italy, making this more popular than Sicily – or many of the girl names ending in ly on this list.
What do you think of these girl names ending in ly? Are there any other unusual possibilities that belong on this list?