Tuesday, July 30, 2013


If you're a fan of 80's music, you probably recognise this name as the surname of singer Rick Astley. His biggest hit was the pop smash 'Never Gonna Give You Up', which was a hit song in 1987. It again made a resurgence in 2007 when the video clip became a You Tube sensation, the subject of an Internet meme known as "Rickrolling". The concept of Rickrolling is that someone would send you a link to a You Tube video reportedly about one subject, but when you clicked on the link it would instead take you to the Rick Astley video clip.

Whether you're a fan of Rick Astley or not though, I find the idea if the name Astley intriguing. It's so similar to perennial favourite Ashley that I'm surprised it hasn't caught on yet. Maybe people have avoided it because it is so closely linked to Rick Astley, or maybe of surname names had been as popular in the 80's as they currently are it would be a different story. But for whatever reason, the only year it has charted in America was in 1993 (the year Rick retired from the music industry) when it was given to just 5 boys.

As it is rare as a first name there is little information about the meaning of Astley. As a surname, it originated as an English place name. Several towns carried this name, which derives from the English words 'est leah' meaning 'east leigh' or 'east meadow'. It came into use as a surname back in the times when people first adopted surnames and it was common practice to identify oneself in relation to where they lived.

Other sources cite an alternative meaning for Astley, saying it is Greek for starry field. This seems less likely than the Old English origin and meaning, simply because although 'asteri' is the Greek work for star, in Greek the word for meadow is 'livadi' and the word for field is 'pedio'. And most names ending in 'Ley' tend to have Old English origins. It's a sweet notion though.

I love the sound of Astley. So far it has only charted for boys, and I can understand why it would be a great name for boys. It's a good alternative for those who like Ashley but baulk at the idea that it has "gone to the girls". I also love it for a girl though - it has that preppy kind of feel that I love in a name, but still retains an almost romantic image. 'Never Gonna Give You Up' would also make a great lullaby to sing to a little Astley to let them know how much they are loved 

If you're worried that it is a little too connected to the 80's icon, then perhaps one of its variants such as Astlee, Astlie, Astly, Atley, Asterleigh, Asterley or even Estleia would be more to your taste. I personally love the idea of a little Astley on the playground though. And the 80's are retro cool now - Astley could be a super cool name to have.


  1. I love your new blog theme! it's very nice. Astley is my favorite name for a boy. The name means "Starry Night".

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