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Wesley Name Meaning

Updated
Learn about the name Wesley including the meaning, gender, origin, popularity, and more.

Wesley Overview

  • Meaning: The name Wesley means “meadow in the west.”
  • Gender: Wesley is a predominantly masculine name.
  • Origin: Wesley is of Anglo-Saxon origin and was originally a surname.
  • Pronunciation: Wesley has two pronunciations: “wess-lee” or “wez-lee.”
  • Popularity: Currently, the name Wesley is very popular, ranking as the 84th most popular boy’s name in the United States.
  • Nicknames: Lee, Sly, Weasel, Wells, Wes, Wez, Wiley.
  • Variations: Wassily, Wescley, Weslee, Wesleigh, Wesly, Westley.
  • Namesakes: Wes Anderson, Wesley Johnson, Wesley Snipes.

What Does Wesley Mean?

The name Wesley is a combination of two Old English words: “wes,” meaning “west,” and “ lēah,” “llēaġe,” referring to a clearing in the woods (1).

Over time, as Old English transitioned into Middle English, the “lēaġe” became “ley,” or a meadow or field.

The most widely accepted modern meaning of the name Wesley is “meadow in the west.”

What is the Origin of the Name Wesley?

Wesley was originally a surname used to indicate where someone lived, so someone named John Wesley would be “John of the western field.”

It became popular as both a first name after the radical changes brought about by John Wesley, the father of the Methodist religion.

Over time, towns in England adopted Wesley’s moniker, including Westley in Suffolk and Westleigh in Lancashire.

How Popular is the Name Wesley?

The name Wesley has consistently risen in popularity since 2000. In 2019, it broke into the top 100 boys’ names in the United States.

It is currently a very popular name, ranked as the country’s 84th most frequently used boy’s name (2).

How Do I Pronounce Wesley?

There are two standard pronunciations of the name Wesley.

The first,”wess-lee,” maintains the “s” sound at the end of the first syllable, while the second, “wez-lee,” changes the “s” sound into a “z” sound, like in the word “rose.”

Is Wesley a Boy or Girl Name?

Wesley is primarily a boy name, but if you prefer the name for a girl, you aren’t alone.

Wesleyanna and Wesleyan were relatively common feminine variations of Wesley in the 1800s for Methodist families.

Wesleyanna Methodist Church in Georgia is a testament to the legacy John Wesley left behind as a historically significant theologian and as an inspiration for both boy and girl baby names (3).

Variations of Wesley

Most of the variations of Wesley consist of alternative spellings stemming from 11th-century England.

A Brazilian variation, Wescley, has gained some traction in the South American country thanks to two footballers: Wescley Pina Gonçalves, who plays for Vila Nova Futebol Clube and Wescley Gomes dos Santos, who play for Ceará.

  • Wassily (Greek)
  • Wellesley (British)
  • Wescley (Brazil)
  • Weslee (American English)
  • Wesleigh (British)
  • Wesly (American English)
  • Westley (British)

Nicknames for Wesley

Wesley is an excellent source for nicknames because of its length and the fact that the syllables sound like two other names – Wes and Lee.

Depending on the particular spelling you choose, you can also give West a whirl as a nickname for your little one.

  • Lee
  • Sly
  • Weasel
  • Wells
  • Welly
  • Wes
  • Wez
  • Wiley

Similar Names to Wesley

The Anglo-Saxon tradition is rich with incredible boys’ names that are unique and steeped in history.

Many, like Wesley, have practical meanings, such as the name holder’s occupation, familial line, or residence.

  • Aeldra (“lives by an Elder Tree”)
  • Archibald (“bold prince”)
  • Braxton (“of Brock’s Town”)
  • Cerdic (“name of the king”)
  • Daegal (“one who dwells in the night”)
  • Dodson (“son of Dodd”)
  • Earle (“nobleman”)
  • Eddison (“son of Edward”)
  • Garrett (“brave spear holder”)
  • Graham (“of grey home”)
  • Hodard (“man of honor”)
  • Jessen (“son of Jess”)
  • Millar (“one who works in the mill”)
  • Morton (“of the town by the moor”)
  • Peirce (“son of Peter”)
  • Rawlins (“son of Rolfe”)
  • Reed (“red-haired”)
  • Sheffield (“of the crooked meadow”)
  • Spence (“butler”
  • Taber (“taborer” or “drum-player”)

Middle Names for Wesley

Wesley pairs best with short, traditional names. Nature-based names are another excellent choice if you prefer to stick with a common theme.

Sibling Names for Wesley

Like middle names, the best sibling names for your little Wesley are those that have a quaint sophistication or pay homage to nature’s bounty.

For Brothers:

For Sisters:

Famous People Named Wesley

While it isn’t a particularly popular name in the jet-set crowd, there have been a few noteworthy Wesleys:

  • Wes Anderson: American filmmaker.
  • Wesley A. Clark: American physicist who created the prototype for the modern PC.
  • Wes Craven: American film director, actor, and producer.
  • Wesley Johnson: American basketball player and coach.
  • Wesley Lau: American actor.
  • Wesley Matthews: American basketball player.
  • Wesley Mouzon: American boxer.
  • Wesley Nelson: American actor.
  • Wesley Ruggles: American film director.
  • Wesley Snipes: American actor and martial artist.

Wesley in Popular Culture

Wesley also doesn’t make its way into the pop culture lexicon as often as more common names like John or Jack, but Star Trek fans may appreciate the subtle reference to a character from the show:

  • Wes Collins: Red Ranger in Power Rangers Time Force.
  • Wesley Crusher: a recurring character in Star Trek: The Next Generation.
  • Wesley Dodds: the real name of DC Comics’ Sandman.
  • Wesley Pegden: a character in the British sitcom Last of the Summer Wine.
  • Wesley Wyndam-Pryce: a character in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel.

Wesley FAQs

What Does the Name Wesley Mean Biblically?

While the name Wesley does not appear in the Bible, it is still considered an important name in the Christian canon due to its origins as the surname of the founder of the Methodist religious movement.

Is It Westley or Wesley?

Westley and Wesley have the same origins and meaning. They are simply variant spellings of one another.

For fans of The Princess Bride, the name Westley is likely the spelling you are more familiar with.

How Old Is the Name Wesley?

The first written record of the name Wesley was King William the Conqueror’s Domesday Book of 1086, which contained a survey of all the lands he now ruled over.

It includes records of Westlea (now Westley), Suffolk and Weslai (now Westley Waterless), Cambridgeshire.

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