[ 2 syll. kel-ly, ke-lly ] The baby boy name Kelly is also used as a girl name, with the latter form being much more common. It is pronounced as KEHLLiy- †. Kelly is used predominantly in the English and Irish languages, and its origin is Celtic. It is derived from the element 'ceall' which means church, monastery. The first name is from the Irish Gaelic surname 'Ó Ceallaigh', meaning descendant of Ceallagh (Old Irish) or Ceallach (Celtic and Old Irish). The latter are male given names of uncertain meaning; they could also mean 'war' or 'warlike'. See Kelly for more information.
The name Kelly is used to a great extent; it has 22 variants. Variants include Kealley, Keallie, Keally, Keilee, Keileigh, Keiley, Keili, Keilley, Keilly, Keily, Kele, Kelle, Kellee, Kellen, Kelli, Kellie, Kely, Keylee, Keyleigh, Keyli, and Keyly. The variant spelling Kelley is another English form.
Kelly is unusual as a baby name for boys. Its usage peaked modestly in 1967 with 0.174% of baby boys being given the name Kelly. It ranked at #102 then. The baby name has since dropped out of favor, and is currently of irregular use. In 2018, among the group of boy names directly linked to Kelly, Kellen was the most widely used. Though Kelly is currently more often than not a girl name, there was a period before 1956 when more boys were given the name. From 1957 on, increasingly more girls than boys were named Kelly. In 2002, the name Kelly was given to 16 times as many girls than boys.
† Pronunciation for Kelly: K as in "key (K.IY)" ; EH as in "ebb (EH.B)" ; L as in "lay (L.EY)" ; IY as in "eat (IY.T)"