Quick Facts on Leslie
- Celtic, Gaelic, Scottish
- Number of syllables:
- Ranking popularity:
Garden of hollies
Characteristics of Leslie
Etymology & Historical Origin - Leslie
The name Leslie originated from a Scottish surname which itself derived from a place name in Aberdeenshire, northeastern Scotland, known as the lands of Lesslyn. The name likely comes from the Gaelic “les cuílinn” meaning ‘garden of hollies.’ The holly plant was important to the ancient Celtic peoples which they referred to as the plant “the sun never forgot” for its ability to stay green even in the winter. The Celts would use pieces of the holly plant in their winter solstice celebrations and believed them to represent the renewal of the coming spring. Given the cold climate of places such as Aberdeenshire where the holly grew, we’re not surprised that the ancient Celts valued this plant. Hence, many superstitions grew up around this perpetually green plant with its bright red berries. The Scandinavians believed that if planted near a house, the holly would protect their home from lightening. The Celtic people believed the plant would protect them in general, and some thought cutting it could bring misfortune. In any case, the clan name Lesslyn (Leslie) is both well-known and respected, descended from an ancient family who were closely connected to the royal Stewarts in the 14th and 15th centuries. Many given names have descended from Scottish surnames and Leslie is one example of this. The name has been considered unisex, but it is far more popular for females today, particularly in the United States. Traditionally, on the British Isles, the spelling Lesley was generally used for girls and Leslie for boys.
Popularity of the Name Leslie
The name Leslie has a history of being unisex in America; however, today it’s almost exclusively used for little girls. From the 1800s up to the 1940s, Leslie was far more popular as a male name. In fact, Leslie was a Top 100 favorite for little boys between 1890 and 1910. As the decades persisted into the 20th century, something interesting happened. Leslie started to defect onto the female charts. 1952 marks the first year that Leslie was more popular for girls than for boys. And that trend would continue for the next 45 years. As the name grew more popular for girls, parents of little boys found the name increasingly less appealing. 1997 is the last year that the name Leslie showed up on the charts for boys. Once unisex, it has now exclusively become a female name. For girls, the height of Leslie’s popularity came between the late 1960s and early 1980s when it was a Top 50-100 name pretty consistently. It lost some footing in the 1990s, came back into the Top 100 for a while in the early 2000s, but today, Leslie appears to be waning again as it heads off the Top 200 list. This is a name that’s not sure what it wants to be. Am I a boy? Am I a girl? Am I popular? Am I not? That’s just part of its charm; a fickle little name is she. We think it’s a great choice for parents who want to show off a little Scottish pride with this ancient-modern classic.
Popularity of the Girl Name Leslie
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Cultural References to the Baby Name - Leslie
Literary Characters of the Baby Name Leslie
Lesley (in poetry by Robert Burns) The romantic late-18th century Scottish poet and lyricist Robert Burns took pen to paper in a few notable verses after meeting a young Scottish lass named Lesley Bailly. He was obviously smitten with her, but their acquaintance would be brief. She clearly left his heart a-pounding and inspired some beautiful lyrics. In “O saw ye bonnie Lesley” Burns wrote, in part: “To see her is to love her, / And love but her for ever; / For Nature made her what she is, / And ne'er made sic anither! / Thou art a queen, fair Lesley, / Thy subjects we, before thee: / Thou art divine, fair Lesley, / The hearts o' men adore thee.”
Leslie Lynnton Benedict (Giant) Leslie is the rich, young, Maryland socialite wooed and won by Texas cattle rancher Jordan “Bick” Benedict, in Edna Ferber’s 1952 novel, Giant, made into a 1956 movie directed by George Stevens. The movie featured Elizabeth Taylor as Leslie, Rock Hudson as Benedict, and the soon-to-die-young James Dean as the vinegar in the mix, Jett Rink. Ms. Taylor perfectly captures the essence of the free spirited Leslie, who puts her shoulder to the grindstone and adapts to life in Texas between the world wars, never quite subjugating herself to the demands of her forceful husband, the “males rule” rule of the day, and the ongoing economic and racial discrimination that plague the countryside. Eventually, Leslie and Bick find that they have grown more alike than apart, and look toward their golden years in a benign unity, having weathered the many obstacles that could easily have been their doom.
Popular Songs on Leslie
Leslie Anne Levine - a song by The Decemberists
Ode to Leslie - a song by B.J. Snowden
Children's Books on the Baby Name Leslie
Bridge of Terabithia (Katherine Paterson) - Jess Aarons' greatest ambition is to be the fastest runner in his grade. He's been practicing all summer and can't wait to see his classmates' faces when he beats them all. But on the first day of school, a new girl boldly crosses over to the boys' side and outruns everyone. That's not a very promising beginning for a friendship, but Jess and Leslie Burke become inseparable. Together they create Terabithia, a magical kingdom in the woods where the two of them reign as king and queen, and their imaginations set the only limits. Then one morning a terrible tragedy occurs. Only when Jess is able to come to grips with this tragedy does he finally understand the strength and courage Leslie has given him. Recommended for ages 10-14.
Famous People Named Leslie
Famous People Named Leslie - Mrs. Leslie Carter (silent film and stage actress); Leslie Bibb (actress); Bob Hope (born Leslie Townes Hope, actor/comedian); Leslie Edward "Les" Claypool (lead vocalist and bassist in the band Primus); Leslie Howard (actor); Leslie Manigat (President of Haiti); Leslie Lynch King, Jr. (birth name of 38th U.S. President Gerald R. Ford); Leslie Moonves (President and CEO of CBS); Leslie Nielsen (actor)
Children of Famous People Named Leslie
Famous People who Named their Child Leslie - Gene Hackman (actor); Humphrey Bogart (actor); Jackie Coogan (actor); Lauren Bacall (actress); Leslie Howard (actor); Michael Landon (actor); William Shatner (actor)
Leslie - Girl Baby Name - Historic Figures
Leslie - We cannot find any historically significant people with the first name Leslie.
Personality of the Girl Name Leslie
The number Eight personality has everything to do with power, wealth and abundance. Somehow, this personality has been blessed on the material plane, but their authoritative and problem-solving traits provide evidence that their good fortunes are not just the luck of the lottery. They are well earned. This is the personality of CEOs and high-ranking military personnel. Eights are intensely active, hard-driving individuals. Success is only meaningful to them after a job well-done. They are remarkable in their ability to see the larger picture right down to the smallest details, and organize a strategy around success. They then have the ability to direct a group around them toward any goal, and realize individual potential to get the most out of their team.
Variations of the Baby Name - Leslie