Ashley (name)

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For other uses, see Ashley (disambiguation).
Gender Unisex
Language(s) English
Meaning Ash tree meadow
Other names
See also ASH, ASHES

The name "Ashley" /ˈæʃli/ is of English origin, from a place name and surname from the Old English (Anglo-Saxon) words 'æsc' (ash) and 'lēah' (meadow, forest clearing).

As a given name, like most surnames turned into first names, Ashley was originally used only for male children. It was first recorded as a male given first/middle name in the 16th century and remained only male until around 350 years later.[1] It was popularized by Anthony Ashley Cooper, 1st Earl of Shaftesbury 1621–1683 (also known as Lord Ashley). Uses of the boys' name in popular culture are Ashley Wilkes from 1939's Gone with the Wind and Ash Williams (Ashley James Williams) from the 1981 Film Evil Dead. Ashley in the United Kingdom, where it originated, is predominantly male, ranking at #40 in 1996 for boys and staying within the top 100–300 male names given each year. Ashleigh is the traditional spelling of the female form of the name, with Ashley remaining traditionally male. Although Ashley is sometimes used for females in the U.K., it has dropped off the top U.K. female name charts since 2011.[2]

Ashley gained immense popularity as a female first name in the United States in the late 20th century, outranking boys' usage by the 1980s and reaching #1 for girls' usage in 1991. Its rise in popularity is attributed to the female soap opera character Ashley Abbott on The Young and The Restless in 1982.

Ashley has not appeared in the top American baby boy names since 1994, but is still used 2%–8% of the time depending on year.[3]

As with many names that achieve popularity, a number of spellings of Ashley emerged. The United States Social Security Administration has records[4] of many different spellings, including Ashley, Ashleigh, Ashlee, Ashlie, Ashlyn, and foreign-looking variants such as Ashlé (pseudo-French).


First name, male[edit]

First name, female[edit]

First name, variant spellings[edit]



In fiction[edit]

Popularity of the female name Ashley in the United States[edit]


Year of birth Rank −2014 67
2010 13
2009 20
2008 18
2007 13
2006 12
2005 10
2004 8
2003 8
2002 22
2001 4
2000 4
1999 6

See also[edit]