This name derives from an Old English (Anglo-Saxon) place name and surname, from “æsc” (ash) and “lēah” (meadow, forest clearing) “ash-tree wood or clearing”. Ashley was originally used for male children, but it gained popularity as a female first name. Its sudden rise in popularity is generally attributed to the emergence of the female soap opera character Ashley Abbott on The Young and The Restless in 1982. In the United Kingdom the name is used for both boys and girls. Aisling, a similar-sounding name of separate etymology and Irish Gaelic origin, is a traditionally female noun meaning "vision" as of a feminine spirit, and became a popular name for girls in the early-to-mid 20th century. "Ashlyn" and "Ashlynn" are derived from this etymology, and "Ashley" may be back-derived as well. From the 19th century both groups of names have mixed and the different variants are no longer attributable to a specific source.