Emily:Competitor, rival

Name Space

Emily is a strong and gentle name that comes from the original medieval Roman name Aemilius. It translates best as "rival" or "to emulate."

The name made its way into the English-speaking world via the German House of Hanover, which came to the English throne in the 18th century. Two princesses named Amelia – Princess Amelia Sophia Eleanor of Great Britain and Princess Amelia of the United Kingdom – were nicknamed Emily.

The royal connection gave Emily the push it needed to enter the mainstream. Popular worldwide, Emily is particularly common in Australia and Ireland, while variations of Emily exist in many languages, including Swedish, Finnish, French, and Dutch.

Alternate versions of Emily include:

  • Emely
  • Emilia
  • Emili
  • Émilie
  • Emmeline
  • Emmalee
  • Emalee

Emily also has countless nicknames, like Emmy, Emmie, Em, Emy, Milly, and Millie. Male versions of the name include Emilio, Emil, and Émile.

Emily has been consistently popular in the United States since 1880, according to the Social Security Administration. Emily was the top name for baby girls in the U.S. from 1996 until 2007, before being usurped by – wait for it – Emma. It seems likely that the only thing that pushed Emily out of the top three was the age-old curse of being too popular. (And it's still in the top 20 baby names for girls!)

What makes Emily so popular over the decades? It 's a mix of things: The name is classically feminine and full of sweetness and light, but it also conjures dignity and strength. There have been plenty of Emilys of substance and notoriety, including authors, poets, actresses, activists, and pioneering suffragettes.

Musical homages to Emily are myriad, the most popular of which is probably Simon and Garfunkel's "For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her." In the 1960s, both Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra recorded a song called "Emily."

Emily remains a classic, timeless name that 's very similar to other super-popular names like Emma and Amelia. It's one that may well stay on the name charts for another hundred-plus years.

The Five Elements:
Also Spelled Like...:
Emalee Emelie Emely Emilee Emilie
Famous Emily:

Princess Amelia Sophia Eleanor of Great Britain : daughter of King George II, nicknamed Emily

Princess Amelia of the United Kingdom : daughter of King George III, nicknamed Emily

Emily Brontë : British feminist icon; author of 19th-century novel Wuthering Heights

Emily "Cissy" Houston : Grammy Award–winning soul and gospel singer; mother of Whitney Houston

Emily Post : American author and socialite famous for her best-selling books on etiquette

Emily Dickinson : prolific American poet

Emily Waheneka : Native American artist from the Warm Springs Reservation in Oregon, known for traditional beadwork

Emily Wilding Davison : legendary English suffragist

Esperanza Emily Spalding : four-time Grammy Award–winning jazz bassist, singer-songwriter

Emily Mortimer : English actress known for Hugo and Shutter Island

Emily Saliers : singer-songwriter, member of the duo Indigo Girls

Emily Blunt : English actress, starred in The Devil Wears Prada and The Return of Mary Poppins

Emily Brook : English inventor, industrial designer, and entrepreneur

Emily Deschanel : American actress and producer, star of the TV crime series Bones

Emily Lloyd : British actress known for Wish You Were Here

Emily Watson : English stage and screen actress, starred in Angela's Ashes and The Theory of Everything; early breakthrough role in Breaking the Waves earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress

Emily Parmely Collins : American suffragist, activist, and writer

Emily Greene Balch : economist, sociologist, ecologist, pacifist; won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1946

Emily Jean Stone : actress better known as Emma Stone; nominated for an Academy Award for her supporting role in Birdman; winner of the Best Actress Academy Award for La La Land

Emily Ratajkowski : American model and actress

Emily Bronte : writer

Emily Watson : actress

Emily Alexander : model

Emily Blunt : actress

Emily Brown : published author

Emily Browning : actress

Emily Calhoun : published author

Emily Deschanel : actress

Emily Dickinson : poet

Emily Hahn : writer

Emily Jenkins : writer

Emily Johnson : published author

Emily Mortimer : actress

Emily Muir : published author