Meaning and Origin of the Name Shirley

The female name Shirley originated from the English. The meaning of Shirley actually means “Bright Meadow”. Possibly the name Shirley is associated with pleasant thoughts due to the fact that a bright meadow is something cheerful and pleasant to look at.

Shirley for the most part is spelled Shirley. However, other spellings include Shirlee.


Shirley was a popular name for girls back in the late 1920‘s throughout the 1930‘s. The name Shirley is not heard much any more. Some famous celebrities were named Shirley. Shriley Mac Laine and Shirley Temple were very famous Hollywood personalities. However the popularity of Shirley has continued to decline over the years.

The name is actually derived from old English elements. Actually Shirley was considered to be a male name. However, you will not find Shirley listed in a book of possible popular baby names. The name is seldom used or encountered any more. Around 1849 Shirley was established as strictly a female name.

Usually, personal choice plays a role when choosing how to spell a baby’s name. It does seem though that the popularity of Shirley will continue to decline.

Famous People Called Shirley

  • Shirley Temple, was an American singer and actress
  • Shirley Bassey is a Welsh singer famous for singing James Bond movie songs
  • Shirley Henderson is a Scottish actress who starred in the films Trainspotting and Bridget Jones’ Diary

Useful Resources

Discover the meaning and popularity of other English girls’ names