First there was Raleigh. Then Kimberleigh. Now 218 American names end in “-eigh”

Maneigh more “eigh.”
Maneigh more “eigh.”
Image: Reuters/Rick Wilking
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There was a time when Ashley was a fine name on its own. Then the simple letters “ey” fell out of fashion, replaced by a gang of four: e, i, g, h.

In 1965, “Ashleigh” appeared on the scene. Riley became Ryleigh. Charlie became Charleigh. Marley met Marleigh. And so on. Over time, the number of babies with names ending in “eigh” has skyrocketed in the United States.

So has the number of spelling variations with “eigh”: In 1950, there were just five names that ended in “eigh.” Last year, there were 218, including Keyleigh, Payzleigh, Brookleigh, Paizleigh, Presleigh, Berkleigh, Carleigh, you get the picture.

Have a look at this chart.

The earliest “eigh” names are Raleigh and Leigh, which already have the hard “e” sound of the likes of “Ashleigh.” Both of them exist in the earliest period for which the Social Security Administration has data, the late 19th century. In the 1950s, Leigh really started to catch on. Other “eigh” names followed.

“Lesleigh” appears in 1950. “Kimberleigh” in 1956. “Keleigh” in 1960. In 1965, the popularity of Leigh would give way to “Ashleigh,” who would go on to be the queen of the “eighs,” until her reign was ended by “Kayleigh” and now “Ryleigh.”

“Camreigh,” meanwhile, was the biggest new name of all of last year.

Most of the “eigh” names have come and gone, as the chart of Leigh and Ashleigh shows. But with so many out there, the spelling might be here to stay. I’m sure you’re curious, so here is the full list of 218 “eigh” names from 2017, sorted by the number of babeighs who got them. (Note that, for privacy reasons, the data only includes names that were given to five or more babies.)