Originally a last name, Hailey is an English name that means hayfield. Hailey comes from the Old English words "heg" (hay) and "leah" (meadow or clearing).
The surname Haley may have arisen to denote a person from one of several English towns and villages with this name. (And there's evidence of a place called Hailey in Oxfordshire, a county in southeast England.) Haley is still a common surname in Britain, Canada, and Australia.
While hayfield isn't the most exciting meaning for a name, the imagery it evokes is beautiful. Think of golden grass rippling across the rolling hills of the English countryside like a gilded ocean, conveying warmth, grace, and groundedness. These associations, as well as the name's history as a surname, have made it a popular choice for parents of boys and girls over the years.
Though the Hailey spelling is most popular in the U.S., the name is spelled in a variety of other ways – including Hayley, Haley, Hailee, and Hayleigh. Hailey and its variations started taking off for girls in the early '80s, probably because of English actress Hayley Mills. She rose to fame in the early '60s in a series of Disney movies including Pollyanna and The Parent Trap – and appeared on American TV shows like The Love Boat and Murder, She Wrote in the '80s.
Hailey reached the top-100 girl names on the Social Security Administration's list in 1996, and has stayed there ever since. It peaked in popularity in 2010 (at spot 19) and has fallen somewhat since then.
For boys, the name is usually spelled Haley – and is far less common. There are some notable male Haleys, though, including Sixth Sense actor Haley Joel Osment, who was born in 1988. Haley is a gender-neutral name. However, considering the name 's recent surge in popularity for girls, Hailey feels like a surprising, unique choice for boys.
Hailey has a few baby-naming trends working in its favor. It's an early example of the last names as first names trend. Choosing a last name as a first name has always been a great choice for parents who wish to honor friends, family members, or personal heroes whose first names, for one reason or another, won 't work. It's also a good choice for people who have chosen to take their partner 's last name but still want to pass down the legacy of their own family of origin.
Hailey is also an example of the recent rise in girl names ending in "ly." Kayley, Hailey, Bailey, and Riley were all popular choices in the late '90s. In recent years, parents have continued this trend with their own spin, changing the spelling of "ly," "ley," or "lee" to "leigh." Names like Everleigh, Blakeleigh, and Hadleigh have all been gaining steam over the last decade.
Baby names are cyclical, and overfamiliarity often causes names to trend downward – which is now the case with the name Hailey. But with popular celebrities such as Hailey Baldwin Bieber and Paramore singer Hayley Williams now defining the name, Hailey will likely trend upward once more.
Hailey Rhode Baldwin Bieber : model, influencer, and wife of Justin Bieber
Haylie Duff : American actress and singer
Hailee Steinfeld : American actress and singer
Haley Joel Osment : American actor
Hayley Williams : lead singer of American rock band Paramore
Hailey Whitters : American country music singer
Hayley Atwell : British-American actress
Hayley Barr : American actress
Hayley Mills : English movie star who rose to fame in the hit movies Pollyanna and The Parent Trap
Mary Hayley Bell : English actress and writer, mother of Hayley Mills
Haley Barbour : American politician, former governor of Mississippi
Nikki Haley : American diplomat and politician, former governor of South Carolina