One of the great things about being a name blogger is not only educating my readers, but educating myself about names too. Every so often I encounter names with which I am totally unfamiliar, like Nallely. I came across this adorable appellation while drafting last week’s Below the Top 1000 post. Nallely was given to 47 baby girls in the U.S. last year.
I made no immediate connections to any existing names. On the surface, Nallely appeared as a standalone modern name. I thought it had great nickname potential, producing Nellie, Ellie, and Ally. For whatever reason, though, I didn’t look it up then and there.
That is, until I encountered Nallely again earlier this week. A perusal of the extended data for earlier years indicated that this name first appeared stateside in 1978 with 5 uses. For a name that appeared so modern, 1978 seemed really early for her to debut as a standalone (not saying that 1978 isn’t modern, but it’s the pre-Internet era). So, then I searched for similar names.
Behind the Name doesn’t have a standard entry for Nallely, but a user-submitted definition says it’s a variant of Nayeli, which does have a regular entry. Nayeli is Zapotec (indigenous Mexican language/language group) and means “I love you.”
Still, the definition for Nallely was user-submitted, and I had a hard time seeing the connection between that spelling and Nayeli. I needed more evidence, and this is where the data was especially helpful. Nayeli experienced a popularity spike and peak in 2001, apparently due to a character in a telenovela called Amigas y Rivales (translation: “Friends and Rivals”). The show didn’t continue into 2002. Nevertheless, between 2000 and 2001 the name jumped from #607 to #175.
Now back to Nallely – the same year Nayeli spiked, Nallely made her first and only appearance in the top 1000, as did variant Nayely. When I saw this, I finally realized I’d forgotten about Spanish-language pronunciation. A double-l is pronounced like a ‘y.’ When I first read “Nallely,” my brain responded “Nah-lel-lee” rather than “nah-yell-ee.” There may be even more ways to say Nayeli depending on spelling or dialect. At the end of the day, some of the greatest respect you can accord a person is to spell and say their name the way they do.
What do you think of Nallely? Nayeli?