[ 3 syll. (s)hir-ley, sh-irl-ey ] The baby girl name Shirley is pronounced as -SHERERLiy- †. Shirley is an English name of Old English origin. Shirley is of the meaning meadow shire; bright meadow. It is from the elements 'scir' meaning shire, county, bright ; 'leah' wood, clearing, meadow. The first name is derived from the surname, itself originally a local name from a place in England so called, possibly from Derbyshire, Hampshire, Surrey, and the West Midlands. The first name was adopted in the mid 19th century, and was originally a male name. It later gained popularity, but as a female name, after Charlotte Brontë wrote her novel Shirley (1849), in which the parents first chose the name in the hopes of a baby boy, but when the baby turned out to be a girl, they nevertheless kept the choice of the name. The name was later popularized through the fame of the US child actress Shirley Temple (1928-).
Shirley is a widely used name; it has 36 variant forms. Variant forms include Cherly, Chirley, Sherle, Sherlea, Sherlee, Sherleen, Sherleigh, Sherlie, Sheryl, Shir, Shirelle, Shirlea, Shirleen, Shirleigh, Shirlena, Shirlene, Shirli, Shirlie, Shirlina, Shirline, Shirlly, Shirlyn, Shirlynn, Shurlee, and Shurley. Other English forms include the contracted form Shirl, the pet forms Shelley, Sherri, and Sherry, and the spelling variants Shaylee, Sherley, Sherli, Sherly, Shirely, Shirlee, and Shirly.
Shirley is uncommon as a baby name for girls. At the height of its usage in 1935, 3.897% of baby girls were named Shirley. Its ranking then was #2. The baby name has since experienced a marked decline in frequency, and is today used on a very light scale. Within all girl names in its group, Shirley was nevertheless the most popular in 2012. Shirley has predominantly been a baby girl name, though in the past century it has also been used for boys. In 1957, Shirley as a baby girl name outnumbered its use as a boy name by 151 times.
Baby names that sound like Shirley include Shirlee, Sarahlee, Sarala, Sariel, Sheralee, Sheriel, Siriol, Cerella, Sheryell, Saril, Sarill, Searlait, Sérlait, Sharel, Sharla, Sharlee, Sharlie, Sharyl, Sherelle, and Sherill.
† Pronunciation for Shirley: SH as in "she (SH.IY)" ; ER as in "hurt (HH.ER.T)" ; L as in "lay (L.EY)" ; IY as in "eat (IY.T)"
Details of famous persons named Shirley:
Actress Shirley Jones, born 31 March 1934, Charleroi, Pennsylvania.
Actress Shirley MacLaine, born Shirley MacLane Beaty, 24 April 1934, Richmond, Virginia.
Car Racer Shirley Muldowney, born Shirley Roque, Schenectady, New York.
Politician Shirley Chisholm, born Shirley Anita St. Hill, 30 November 1924 - 1 January 2005, Brooklyn, New York.