The surname was in turn based on an Old English toponym, a compound of heg "hay" and leah "clearing or meadow",
While it can be used for males, Hayley is most commonly a female given name. This use became popular due to child actress Hayley Mills (b. 1946), but the name was not used with any frequency prior to the 1980s. Its popularity saw a sudden peak during the 1990s, but since the 2000s has again declined significantly. Hayley is one of the top 1,500 female names in the US today.