Ashley (name)

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MeaningAsh tree meadow

Ashley is an English unisex given name, originally a place name and surname. It is derived from the Old English (Anglo-Saxon) words æsc (ash) and lēah (meadow, forest clearing).

Ashley was originally used only for male children. It is a surname that turned into a first name. 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 Joanna Williams) from the 1981 film The Evil Dead.

Ashley in the United Kingdom remains 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, with Ashley remaining traditionally male across the country. Although Ashley is sometimes used for British females, it has dropped off the top U.K. female name charts since 2011.[2]

In the United States, Ashley gained popularity as a female first name 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 1000 American baby boy names since 1994.[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) for example, Ashlé Dawson.


First name, male[edit]

First name, female[edit]

First name, variant spellings[edit]



In fiction[edit]

Popularity of the female name 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]


  1. ^ "Ashley – Name Meaning, What does Ashley mean?".
  2. ^ "Ashley – Baby Name – Meaning & Popularity".
  3. ^ "Ashley as a first name or baby name".
  4. ^ SueKunkel. "Popular Baby Names".
  5. ^ "Popular Baby Names". Retrieved 19 April 2012.