Madelyn is a girl's name that derives from a Hebrew word meaning "high tower." It evolved to the Greek name Magdalene and then the English version Madelyn. The name – or one of its many variations – has been held by many fascinating women throughout history.
The most famous Magdalene is Mary Magdalene – a saint and one of Jesus' companions. It is believed that Mary Magdalene was born in the ancient city of Magdala (now Migdal in Israel), so one interpretation of the name is "of Magdala."
Madelyn is just one of many offshoots of Magdalene. Madeline, an alternate spelling of the French Madeleine, was once the most popular spelling of the name in the U.S., though Madelyn has since outpaced it. (Madelyn has plenty of alternate spellings, too, the most popular being Madelynn and Madalyn.)
Other variations include Magda in Arabic and eastern European languages, Magdalena, Madalene, Madelene, Magdalen, and Magdaline. The French spelling, Madeleine, is also the name of a sweet, sponge-cake type dessert. Legend has it the pastry gets its name from an 18th century French woman and chef.
The name Madelyn is associated with many positive characteristics. One may think of Madeleine Albright's bravery, Princess Madeleine of Sweden's grace, or author Madeleine L'Engle's creativity and wit.
Both Madeline and Madelyn have appeared in the Social Security Administration's top 1,000 baby girl's names since 1900, but Madeline was more dominant for many years, even spending at least a decade in the top 100 names. It peaked at number 50 in 1998 and has since been on the decline.
Madelyn, meanwhile, started gaining popularity since the early 2000s – right about when Madeline started declining. It first broke into the top 100 names in 2008 and peaked at number 59 in 2015.
If the name's past is indicative of its future, then expect Madelyn to become one of the most popular girl's names in the U.S. within the next few decades.
Madelyn Clare : Actress who starred in 1920 films Mark of the Beast and If Women Only Knew
Madelyn Pugh : Award-winning television producer and writer, known for her work on TV show I Love Lucy
Madeleine Albright : First female U.S. Secretary of State
Madeleine L'Engle : Author of the novel A Wrinkle in Time
Madeleine of Valois : 16th century French princess
Princess Madeleine : Daughter of the King of Sweden
Madeline Kahn : Actress and comedian who starred in TV show Oh Madeline
Madeline Mitchell : Beauty queen, Miss Alabama USA 2011