Tuesday, November 4, 2014


Photo Courtesy of JME Portraits

I heard some boys on the tram recently calling their friend Langley. I'm not sure if it was his given name or surname, but I really liked the sound of it.

My confusion as to whether it was his given name or surname is understandable - Langley has a very long history as a surname. It's known as a habitational or toponymic surname, which means it is derived from the location in which the family lived. In this case, that would be any number of the Old English villages named for a nearby long (lang) clearing in a forest (leah). This is where the meaning of Langley comes from - it means 'long meadow'.

If you think it sound familiar it's likely you have a Langley near you. The CIA in America is located in the Virginian town of Langley, and TV show 'American Dad' is located in the fictional Langley Falls. Or you likely know someone with this surname.

While there are a great many people with the surname Langley, it is much less common as a given name. In the U.S it has sporadically charted as a boys name since 1907. For girls it has been slightly more popular, charting consistently since 1990. This is most likely due to the birth of celebrity Mariel Hemingways' second daughter in 1989, who was named Langley Fox. But while this may have put Langley on the radar for girls, Langley remains rare, never given to more than 40 children (boys and girls combined) in a single year.

At Nameberry, Langley appears on a list of vampire names, as well as a list of cool, unusual girls names, showing the versatility of this name. I personally like the soft, jaunty, stately feel of Langley. And having seen it in use, can easily see it working on a modern child. If you have names like Avery, Blakely, Collins, Emerson, Hadley, McKenzie, Thackery, Thornton or Westley on your list, Langley could be a great addition.

1 comment:

  1. The CIA headquarters are technically in Mclean, which absorbed Langley a while ago. Langley is still pretty much synonymous with "CIA," over here, though.