Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Riley

Riley comes from an old Irish given name, Raghallaigh (pronounced rah + hal + ee) which is derived from the Gaelic word “raghalach” meaning ‘courageous, valiant.’ The name is still very common as a surname, particularly in Ireland, where it’s spelled “O’Reilly.” The given name Riley is not only considered a transferred use of a surname from Ireland, but it is also an English surname derived from a place name. In this case, the name comes from the Old English words “ryge” (rye) and “leah” (wood, clearing). Ironically, the name is not popular in Ireland as a personal name. However, it gets heavy usage in the United Kingdom and Canada (as a boy’s name), but it’s the Australians and New Zealanders who are the biggest fans of Riley. Interestingly, the United States is the only country to favor the name Riley for girls over boys.

All About the Baby Name – Riley

Personality

OF THE UNISEX NAME RILEY

Romance is the hallmark of the Six personality. They exude nurturing, loving, and caring energy. Sixes are in love with the idea of love in its idealized form - and with their magnetic personalities, they easily draw people toward them. Like the number Two personality, they seek balance and harmony in their life and the world at large. They are conscientious and service-oriented, and a champion for the underdog. These personalities naturally attract money and are usually surrounded by lovely material objects - but their human relationships are always primary. They thrive in giving back to others rather than being motivated by their own desires. This is when they achieve great things. Sixes are natural teachers, ministers and counselors.

Popularity

OF THE UNISEX NAME RILEY

The name Riley is distinctively unisex in the United States, as it’s commonly used for either gender. In 2010, the name placed in position #40 for girls and #105 for boys. The name has been around and in use for boys a lot longer. In fact, Americans have been giving their sons the name Riley for well over 100 years, but for girls – the name has only been bestowed for a mere twenty years (starting in 1990). Despite its late entry onto the U.S. charts for female names, Riley surpassed the boy-version of the name in 2003. Today, American parents are 50% more likely to use the name for a girl than for a boy. Naming trends in the United States seem to favor unisex names for girls rather than boys, and once the female gender hijacks a name significantly enough, it begins to fall out of favor for the boys. We’ll have to wait and see if this happens with Riley. The name is unpretentious and sweet-sounding which is probably what attracts parents to the name. And its distinctly Irish flavor adds to the appeal.

Quick Facts

ON RILEY

GENDER:

Unisex

ORIGIN:

Celtic

NUMBER OF SYLLABLES:

2

RANKING POPULARITY:

N/A

PRONUNCIATION:

RYE-lee

SIMPLE MEANING:

Valiant, courageous

Characteristics

OF RILEY

Humanitarian

Community-minded

Family-oriented

Loving

Affectionate

Compassionate

Sensitive

Cultural References to the Baby Name – Riley

Literary Characters

OF THE BABY NAME RILEY

We cannot find any significant literary characters by the name of Riley

Popular Songs

ON RILEY

Life O'Riley
a song by Nofx

Baba O'Riley
a song by The Who

John Riley
a song by Joan Baez

I Live the Life of Riley
a song by Lester Flatt & The Nashville Grass

Riley Joe
is a song by Home Town Hero

Famous People

NAMED RILEY

Riley P. Bechtel (businessman)
Riley Smith (actor)
Riley P. Bechtel (businessman)
Riley Smith (actor)
Riley P. Bechtel (businessman)
Riley Smith (actor)

Children of Famous People

NAMED RILEY

Courteney Cox;

Historic Figures

WITH THE NAME RILEY

We cannot find any historically significant people with the first name Riley