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What does Kelly mean?

Kelly Pronunciation of Kelly 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


VARIANTS Kelianne, Kellee, Kelleen, Kelleigh, Kelley, Kelli, Kellie, Kellina, Kellyann, Kellyanne, Kellye

SEE ALSO Callie, Keely

MASCULINE FORMS Ceallach, Cillian, Keeley, Killian

(female) Kely, ..

(male) Keldy, ..

Kelly Dana (K.D.), ..

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 #618 currently. (TOP BABY NAMES, 2018)

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?

Callie (#190 FROM RECENT DATA), Keely, Kellee, Kelley, Kelli, Kellie, Kellyann and Kellye are the prominent variation forms of Kelly (#618). Adoption of these forms of Kelly was more pronounced in the 1970s (ADOPTION OF 1.2%) and has become significantly lower since (ADOPTION 0.1%, 89.9% 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, Callie, 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 sound-alike 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.