Kelly (given name)

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For other uses, see Kelly.
Gender Unisex
Language(s) English
Language(s) Irish
Word/name Kelly (surname)

Kelly is an English-language unisex given name, derived from the Irish surname Kelly.

It has predominantly been used as a feminine given name, with a significant minority usage as a masculine name; during the peak of the name's popularity in the United States during the 1960s to 1970s, feminine usage was about four to five times as frequent as masculine usage.


Main article: Kelly (surname)

The surname Kelly has multiple origins. There is a Clan Kelly in Scotland, possibly derived from a toponym Kelloe. The Irish surname may be from either Ó Ceallaigh or Ó Cadhla, or yet again from a toponym such as Kelly, near Arbroath or Kellie, in Fife. The surname was established in the United States by the early 19th century, and it began to be used as a masculine name in the later 19th century. Feminine usage first appeared in the 1940s and surpassed masculine usage around 1957 due to the popularity of the American actress Grace Kelly.[1]


According to the U.S. Social Security Administration, Kelly, as a name for a girl, was ranked #900 in 1950, then steadily gained popularity until 1977 (peaking at rank #10); Kelly, as a name for a boy, was consistently in the top 800 (but never the top 300) from 1881 to 1939, then steadily gained popularity until 1968 (peaking at rank #97). The feminine name reached two significant peaks, rank #12 in 1968, then declining to rank #23 in 1972, and again rising to rank #10 in 1977; both the feminine and the masculine name have been in steady decline since reaching their respective popularity peaks; the masculine name fell below rank #1000 in 2003; the feminine name lingers at rank #367 as of 2013. [2]

In the United Kingdom, it made its way into the top 50 during the 1970s and by 1984 was the 15th most popular feminine first name. However, 10 years later it had declined to 53rd place and by 1999 had fallen out of the top 100.[3]

People with the name[edit]

Feminine name[edit]

Masculine name[edit]

Fictional characters[edit]