Hailey is the most popular spelling variant of “Haley” which is the transferred use of an English surname derived from a place name. For instance, there is a village called Hailey in Oxfordshire, a county in the southeast region of England. The place name comes from the Olde English words “hēg” (meaning “hay, mown grass”) and “lēah” (meaning “an open clearing, meadow”). Surnames that developed from specific places were often given to the lord of the manor, the largest landowner and/or people who hailed from one village and relocated to another (a surname derived from one’s place of origin would have served to identify them for the purposes of taxation). The first recorded spelling of this surname appeared in the mid-13th century and was rendered as “de Hayleg”. The transference of Haley from a surname into a female given name is really quite modern and very distinct to the United States and Canada (i.e., other English-speaking countries aren’t as hot on the Hailey names). The given form of the name really caught on in the United States by the mid-1980’s when Halley’s Comet came through the earth’s atmosphere in 1986 (this rare event visible to the naked eye only happens once every 75 years!). Over 3,000 baby girls were named some form of Haley in 1986 which is right around the time she became a modern-day American favorite. Today over 10,000 baby girls receive this moniker in the U.S. annually.
Unfortunately for school teachers across the nation, Hailey is one of those trendy names that has already been relentlessly respelled. There are now 10 forms of this name on America’s Top 1000 list and over 25 in circulation. It’s bordering on insanity, but c'est la vie as they say. Hailey is by far and away the most popular of all the spellings floating around out there – about half the baby girls named Hailey spell it this way. Surnames as forenames are no longer just trendy for baby boys. Girls are getting them in droves as well – the most popular surnames-turned-first-names for baby girls right now are Madison, Addison, Harper and Hailey (other trendy choices include: Taylor, Riley, Peyton, Bailey, Kennedy, Piper). At least Hailey was one of the original trendsetters of a now overly-abused category of names. Nonetheless, Hailey in its many forms together make up a wildly successful name in the United States, but one that probably has seen her peak popularity.