Whether it's because of its poetic meaning – "dark" and "night" – or Eric Clapton's famous song, the name Layla has a certain lyrical quality to it. Layla has Hebrew and Arabic origins and is alternately spelled Leila, Leyla, Leylah, Lailah, Laila, or Laylah. With two nearly repeating syllables (pronounced lay-lah), the name rolls off the tongue and evokes a sense of calm.
Layla comes from the ancient Semitic word layl, meaning "night." In some interpretations of the Talmud, the Jewish holy book, Lailah is the name of an angel.
The name is also a romantic choice. Layla became more widely known in the United States after Clapton's song hit the airwaves in the early 1970s. He wrote the ballad for model and photographer Pattie Boyd, who would later become his wife.
Clapton's use of the name Layla was inspired by the Arabic poem Layla and Majnun. The 7th–century poem tells the story of poet Qays and his love Layla, who as young lovers were kept apart by Layla's father. As Layla and Qays grow older, his love for Layla turns into an obsession that earns him the title Majnun, which means "possessed" and "crazy." The lovers never reconnect, and die apart. Despite the dark tone of the story, the poem has endured through the centuries for its tragic romance, and the name Layla has gained a timeless allure.
The name Layla began trending up in popularity in the U.S. around 2000, perhaps assisted by the name's similarity to Kayla. As of 2020, Layla was number 24 on the list of top baby girl names reported by the Social Security Administration.
Laila Ali, professional boxer and daughter of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, is a notable bearer of the name. So is Leila Pahlavi, Princess of Iran.
The use of the name Layla in the Western Hemisphere has enjoyed a steep uptick in recent years, and with its lovely meaning and romantic origin story, it's sure to be a favorite for many years to come.
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