First Name
in the U.S.
since 1880
Last Name
in the U.S.
in 2010
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How to Pronounce Sly

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Meaning and Origin

What does the name Sly mean? Find out below.

Origin and Meaning of Sly

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International Interest
Webster's Unabridged Dictionary
adjective Sly
  1. Dexterous in performing an action, so as to escape notice; nimble; skillful; cautious; shrewd; knowing; -- in a good sense."Be ye sly as serpents, and simple as doves." [Wyclif (Matt. x. 16).]"Whom graver age And long experience hath made wise and sly." [Fairfax.]
  2. Artfully cunning; secretly mischievous; wily."For my sly wiles and subtle craftiness, The litle of the kingdom I possess." [Spenser.]
  3. Done with, and marked by, artful and dexterous secrecy; subtle; as, a sly trick."Envy works in a sly and imperceptible manner." [I. Watts.]
  4. Light or delicate; slight; thin.(Obs)
    synonyms: Cunning; crafty; subtile; wily. See Cunning.

Etymology: OE. sli slegh sleih, Icel. sl�gr, for sl�gr; akin to Sw. slug, Dan. slu, LG. slou, G. schlau; probably to E. slay, v.t.; cf. G. verschlagen sly. See Slay (v. t.), and cf. Sleight

adverb Sly
Other Dictionary Sources
  1. Marked by skill in deception ("sly as a fox")
  1. A diminutive of the male given name Sylvester.

Notable Persons Named Sly

Sly Stone is a funk, rock music, soul music, rhythm, blues, and psychedelic soul musician. His ongoing career started in 1952. Sly was given the name Sylvester Stewart on March 15th, 1943 in Denton, Texas, United States.


Sly Dunbar is a reggae musician. Sly was given the name Lowell Fillmore Dunbar on May 10th, 1952 in Kingston, Jamaica.


Sly Williams is a basketball player for the New York Knicks, Atlanta Hawks, and Boston Celtics. His most notable accomplishments were from 1979 to 1985. Sly was born on January 26th, 1958 in New Haven, Connecticut.



Sly Tetteh was an athlete for the Sekondi Hasaacas F.C. and Liberty University. Sly was born in Accra. He died on September 3rd, 2011.


Sly Dorlotin is an athlete for the US Baie-Mahault.


Notable Persons With the Last Name Sly

Tony Sly was a punk rock, melodic hardcore, skate punk, pop punk, and acoustic music musician. He was most active from 1989 to 2012. Tony was given the name Anthony James Sly on November 4th, 1970. He died on July 31st, 2012.


He breathed his last breath in 1608.


Darryl was born on April 3rd, 1939. He died on August 28th, 2007.



Jacqueline was born on May 17th, 1948.


Harold Sly is a soccer player for the Birmingham City F.C., Tamworth F.C., Gillingham F.C., Brighton & Hove Albion F.C., and FC Sète 34. Harold was born on February 26th, 1904 in Appley Bridge, England.


Where is the name Sly popular?

International Interest for Sly

Interest is based how many people viewed this name from each country and is scaled based on the total views by each country so that large countries do not always show the most interest. Darker blue on the map indicates that people in the country are more likely to search for this name.

Longer bars in the bar graph indicate that people in the country are more interested in the name. Not all countries that have shown an interest in the name are listed in the bar graph.

United States
United Kingdom
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Popularity in the US

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Popularity of Sly as a last name

The map shows the absolute popularity of the name Sly as a last name in each of the states. See other popular names in Michigan, New York, or California.

Ethnicity Distribution

Ethnicity Sly U.S.
  White 79.88% 64.26%
  African American 12.04% 11.96%
  Asian, Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander 3.34% 4.85%
  American Indian and Alaska Native 0.81% 0.69%
  Two or More Ethnicities 1.68% 1.76%
  Hispanic or Latino 2.25% 16.26%

Of Last Name Sly

People with the last name Sly are most frequently White or African American

Entire United States

Fun Facts about the name Sly

  • How Popular is the name Sly? Sly is the 41,559th most popular name of all time. As a last name Sly was the 10,050th most popular name in 2010.
  • How many people with the first name Sly have been born in the United States? From 1880 to 2017, the Social Security Administration has recorded 72 babies born with the first name Sly in the United States. That's more than enough people named Sly to occupy the territory of Pitcairn Islands (United Kingdom) with an estimated population of 66 (as of July 1, 2008).
  • What year were 5 or more babies first named Sly? The name was first given to 5 or more babies in the year 1973 when it was given as a first name to 6 new born babies.
  • When was Sly first recorded in the United States? The oldest recorded birth by the Social Security Administration for the first name Sly is Sunday, May 8th, 1898.
  • What year had the most people named Sly born? The highest recorded use of the first name Sly was in 1994 with a total of 9 babies.
  • Weird things about the name Sly: Your name in reverse order is Yls. A random rearrangement of the letters in your name (anagram) will give Syl. How do you pronounce that?
  • How many people have the last name Sly? In 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau surveyed 3,205 people with the last name Sly.
  • How likely are you to meet someone with the last name of Sly? If you manage to meet 100,000 people in your life, chances are that 1 of them will have Sly as their last name.

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  • Sources:
  • U.S. Census Bureau: Frequently Occurring Surnames from the Census 2000 (public domain).
  • U.S. Social Security Administration: Popular Baby Names, Death Master File (public domain).
  • 1913 Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary via the Collaborative International Dictionary of English (License)
  • Other Dictionary Sources: WordNet 3.1 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University (License).
  • Wiktionary: Titles and License.
  • Notable persons via Wikipedia: Titles and License. Click each image for the attribution information.