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What does Kelly mean?

Kelly Pronunciation of Kelly [kel-ly] as a girls' name (also used less regularly as boys' name Kelly) is pronounced KEL-ee. It is of Irish and Gaelic origin, and the meaning of Kelly is "strife, war". Transferred use of the surname. Originally an anglicized form of the ancient Irish Gaelic name Ceallach, possibly meaning "strife", "bright-headed", or "church, monastery". Actresses Kelly McGillis, Kelly Preston, Kelly Ripa.

Associated with: irish, surname, ancient (old), bright (light), monastery.


Kelly has 11 variants: Kelianne, Kellee, Kelleen, Kelleigh, Kelley, Kelli, Kellie, Kellina, Kellyann, Kellyanne and Kellye.

Related girl names: Callie and Keely.

4 masculine forms: Ceallach, Cillian, Keeley and Killian.

Creative forms:
(female) Kellei, Kellia, ..

(male) Keldy, Kelji, ..

Middle name pairings:
Kelly Azariah (K.A.), ..

How popular is Kelly?

Kelly is a very popular first name for females (#67 out of 4276, Top 2%) and also a very popular surname for all people (#69 out of 150436, Top 1%). (2000 U.S. Demographics)

Kelly was first listed in 1940-1949 and reached its highest position of #14 in the U.S. in the 1970s, and is at #478 currently. (Top Baby Names, 2015)

Top 2000 baby names ranking of Kelly name in U.S.

Top 100 baby names ranking of Kelly outside U.S.

Which version is better?

with its variant forms and related girl names. Callie (#196 from recent data), Keely, Kellee, Kelley, Kelli, Kellie, Kellyann and Kellye are the prominent variation forms of Kelly (#478 from recent data). Adoption of these forms of Kelly was more pronounced in the 1970s (adoption of 1.6%) and has become significantly lower since (adoption 0.1%, 91% less), with forms such as Kelley becoming less fashionable. Callie is the most contemporarily stylish girl name among these.

Top 2000 baby names ranking of Kelly, Callie, Keely, Kellee, Kelley in U.S.

Top 2000 baby names ranking of Kelli, Kellie, Kellyann, Kellye in U.S.

Top 100 baby names ranking of Kelly, Kellie outside U.S.

Similar Names

Kelly is pronounced similarly to Calla, Calley, Calli, Kaeli, Kahley, Kahli, Kaili, Kalah, Kalea, Kalee, Kalley, Kally, Kaly, Kayley, Kaylla, Kealey, Keelia, Keelie, Keighly, Keyely, Keylley, Keyllie, Kyla, Kylee and Kyli. Other recommended names are Ally, Billy, Cilly, Delly, Dolly, Elly, Emelly, Gilly, Hally, Hedly, Hilly, Jilly, Joelly, Jully, Kalle, Karly, Keavy, Keelyn, Kelbey, Kelby, Kelcey, Kelcy, Kelda, Kelila, Kellan, Kellda (see Kelda), Kellen, Kellyn, Kelsa, Kelsi, Kelsy, Kemply, Kessy, Lally, Lesly, Lilly, Lolly, Mally, Melly, Molly, Neely, Nelly, Polly, Reilly, Sally, Seely, Tully, Vally, Wally and Willy. These names tend to be less commonly used than Kelly.

See names
in meaning and etymology.