Leila, Layla

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Arabic לילה‎ ليلى
Meaning: “night.”
(LAY-la)

The name is derived from the Arabic and has a variety of different meanings depending on its spelling, the most popular etymology is that it is from a Semitic root, l-y-l, meaning, “night” and shares the same etymology as the name Lilith.

The name has always been popular in the Middle East and is found in the 7th-century romantic poem, Qays & Layla also known as Layla & Majnun (written by Persian poet, Nizami Ganjavi). The legend trickled down to throughout the Middle East, Near East, Central Asia and South Eastern Europe, making the name a long time classic in all those regions.

It was introduced into the English-speaking world via Lord Byron in which the name appears in two of his works, The Gaiour (1813) and Don Juan (1819). It was further popularized in the 1970s when the name was the subject of two songs, one being the famous Eric Clapton song and the other being “Layla” by Derek and the Dominos.

Her Bosnian form of Lejla is the 7th most popular female name in Bosnia & Herzegovina, (2010). Her rankings in other countries are as follows:

  • # 3 (Leyla, Azerbaijan, 2010)
  • # 36 (Layla, Australia, 2010)
  • # 37 (Layla, United States, 2010)
  • # 44 (Layla, England/Wales, 2010)
  • # 50 (Layla, Ireland, 2010)
  • # 50 (Layla, Scotland, 2010)
  • # 71 (Leila, Hungary, 2010)
  • # 76 (Layla, Canada, BC, 2010)
  • # 95 (Laila, England/Wales, 2010)
  • # 138 (Laila, United States, 2010)
  • # 143 (Leila, France, 2009)
  • # 204 (Leila, United States, 2010)
  • # 304 (Layla, Netherlands, 2010)
  • # 478 (Laila, Netherlands, 2010)
  • # 747 (Leyla, United States, 2010)

The name is also common in Iran, Israel, the Balkans and in the Turkic world.

In the Middle East, the name was popularized by a 7th-century poet by the name of Qays, whose lady love was named Layla. His story became a popular Medieval Arabic romance.

Other forms of the name include:

  • Lejla Лейла (Albanian/Bosnian/Dagestani/Kazakh/Maltese/Tatar)
  • Laïla (Algerian/Moroccan/Tunisian)
  • Leïla (Algerian/Moroccan/Tunisian)
  • Leyli Լեյլի (Armenian)
  • Leyla (Azeri/English/Kurdish/Turkish)
  • Lajla Лайла (Chechen)
  • Leila ლეილა (Circassian/English/Ethiopian/French/Georgian/Hungarian)
  • Laila (Dutch/English/Estonian/Finnish/Hindi/German/Latvian/Scandinavian/Urdu)
  • Layla (English/Italian/Uzbek)
  • Lejli Лейли (Kazakh)
  • Ljajlim Ляйлим (Kazakh)
Laila can also be a Sami form of Helga.