American names, celebrity baby names, Dutch names, famous namesakes, fictional namesakes, name combinations, name history, name meaning, name popularity, name trends, nicknames, sibsets, surname names, UK name popularity, unisex names, US name popularity, US name trends
This post was first published on January 29 2012, and heavily revised on February 10 2016.
Tomorrow school goes back in three different states and territories (Queensland has already been back a week), which means that the summer holidays are drawing to a close. I chose this name as suitable for the start of term, thanks to its educational meaning.
Skyler is a variant of Schuyler; a Dutch surname of German origin meaning “scholar”, said SKIE-luh. This name was brought to what is now the United States by Dutch colonists, who settled in the east during the 17th century.
The Schuylers were a prominent New York family. Pieter Schuyler was the first mayor of Albany in New York, and a commander of the British forces at the Battle of La Prairie, near Montreal. His descendants were numerous and distinguished, including his grand-nephew Philip Schuyler, who was a general in the American Revolution and Senator for the state of New York. It is said that the first use of the names Schuyler and Skyler was in honour of this family.
Schuyler has only appeared on the US Top 1000 a smattering of times. It shows up first at the beginning of the twentieth century, and then again between the mid 1980s and mid 1990s, only charting as a male name, and never getting higher than the bottom of the Top 1000. Currently Schuyler is almost equally given to both sexes in the US – 17 girls and 15 boys last year.
Famous people with the name include Schuyler Colefax, the 17th US Vice-President, who was a distant cousin of Philip Schuyler, and Schuyler Wheeler, inventor of the electric fan. Schuyler has been chosen as a baby name by actors Michael J. Fox and Sissy Spacek – both times for daughters. The name is barely used outside the United States, and pronunciation would be a puzzle to most.
During the 1940s and 1950s there was a popular American radio and television series called Sky King, about an Arizona rancher and pilot called Schuyler “Sky” King. During the 1950s, the spelling variant Skyler begins showing up in the data. It’s tempting to imagine that people tuned into the show, and began spelling the name as it sounded, or in such a way as to make the nickname Sky more obvious.
Skyler joined the US Top 1000 in 1981 for boys, and for girls in 1990 – it began showing up in data as a girls name in the late 1970s, so it had a brisk rise as a girls name. Skyler peaked for boys in 1996 at #217, and is currently #351. For girls, it peaked in 2000 at #250, and is currently #302.
Famous Skylers include Skyler Green, a footballer who played for the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL, and actress Skyler Samuels, who played Gigi on Wizards of Waverley Place. A fictional Skyler is Skyler White from the TV series Breaking Bad, played by Anna Gunn. Fashion stylist Rachel Zoe has a son named Skyler.
In the UK, Skyler has charted for boys and girls since the late 1990s. Currently it is #406 for girls, while in 2014, there were 13 boys named Skyler. It is rising rapidly for both sexes.
Rising alongside Skyler is the variant Skylar. While it has never been higher for boys in the US than the 300s, and is currently #635, it is Top 100 for girls, being #48 and rising. A famous namesake is American singer and songwriter Skylar Grey, born Holly Hafermann – her stage name a reference to mysterious “grey skies”.
In the UK, Skylar is #212 for girls and rising steeply. It is occasionally used for boys, and in 2014 there were 5 baby boys named Skylar.
There are also spelling variants of Skyler/Skylar which are specifically feminine. Skyla is #531 in the US, #156 and rising in the UK, and in 2012 made the Top 100 in New Zealand. It is much more popular than Skylah, but that is rising rapidly as well.
Skyla and Skylah are much more common in Australia than any other spellings of Skyler, and the numbers in the UK and New Zealand suggest that this spelling makes the most sense for someone with a British/Commonwealth accent. I estimate that if Skyla and Skylah were added together, the name would be in the Australian Top 100 by now, or very close to it, while other spelling variants are extremely rare for either sex.
You can see that if all the different spellings of Skyler were added up, it would be an extremely common name in the English speaking world. So Skyla or Skylah may not be an original choice for girl, but a boy named Skyler would stand out in Australia. Some of the other spelling variants would be worth considering, although I think Schuyler will cause more problems than it is worth.
By now this name has become almost completely divorced from its true meaning, and we now connect it with such things as clear or cloudy skies, free-wheeling flight, and the wild blue yonder. The obvious nicknames are Sky and Skye, and it fits in with names like Shyla, Myla, Kayla, Kai, and Tyler. Its sound is at least part of the reason for its success.
As a girl’s name Skyler received an approval rating of 52%. 38% of people thought it seemed okay, although only 5% of people actually loved it.
Skyler had a lower approval rating as a boy’s name, at 46%. 28% disliked Skyler on a boy, and only 4% loved it.
The favoured spelling of the name was Skyler, with 37% of the vote, although Schuyler was not far behind on 33%. The least popular was Skyla, which only one person voted for.
(Photo is of the NSW Schoolhouse Museum of Education in Sydney)