I’ve written several times this year about the proliferation of startup names that end in -ly: Chirply, Erply, Forkly, Womply, Grammarly, et al. (You can read all of my -ly posts here.) Just last week I just learned of a new entrant in this dubious sweepstakes: Burstly, “the leading app monetization platform.”
Now it turns out that there’s been a parallel trend in baby naming. The Nameberry baby-names blog included it among its “Baby Trends 2012: 12 Hottest Trends” roundup:
Name Trend Ready to Jump the Shark**: The -ley names
We liked Hadley, name of Hemingway's sympathetic first wife. And Huxley, Ridley, and Radley, as in Aldous, Scott and Boo, were all intriguing. But the trend toward tacking an -ley onto the end of a wide range of first syllables and calling it a name --- Brinley, Kinley, Finley, endlessly --- became so pandemic so quickly that we are ready to declare it over already.
These names are spelled with -ley, not –ly, but sonically there’s no distinction. Throw in Lily, Riley/Ryleigh, Hayley, Carly, and Emily—all of which have surged within the last five years, according to Name Voyager—and the trend becomes even more evident.
Trends in company names and baby names don’t always track this closely, so when they do it’s worth paying attention. The last confluence I can recall occurred back in 2007, when “K” names were popular across the board; a year or two earlier, when the first generation of Web 2.0 startups had names like Meebo and DimDim, we also saw a spate of reduplicative or near-reduplicative baby names like Coco (born to actress Courteney Cox in 2004), Lola (which spiked in the Name Voyager graph in the early 2000s), Emma, Fifi, and Lulu.
In 2010 and 2011 the torch was passed to the -ly/-ley crowd. Overnight, it seemed, adverbial-style names sounded fresh, modern, and unique: in a word, nameworthy. Of course, they aren’t unique at all—I’ve tallied almost 50 newish company names that end in -ly—and in a few years they’ll all sound fusty and dated. Right now they just sound like clones.
*If you don’t understand “jump the shark,” read this.
Nameberry post via this tweet from @Nameflash.