Arrow Downward Arrow Downward Close Close Done Done Cart Cart
Personal guidance

We are always happy to help you! Contact us via e-mail or Whatsapp.

If you would like us to call you back, please provide your phone number and how you can be reached. We will be happy to call you for a personal consultation. WhatsApp

Surname Curley - Meaning and Origin

all surnames with 'C'

Curley: What does the surname Curley mean?

The surname Curley is of Irish origin, derived from the Gaelic name "Ó Corraidhín", where "Ó" means "descendant of" and "Corraidhín" is a diminutive form of "Corradh" which signifies a "spear". Therefore, the surname can be commonly interpreted as the "descendant of the little spear". According to the Irish traditions, the original bearers of the Curley surname belonged to a family in Connacht province, which was well-known for their warrior status. The surname has numerous variations such as Curling, Curlee, McCorley, and others. It is spread across Ireland, England, and Scotland, and became well-established in the United States during the Irish diaspora in the 19th and 20th centuries. Despite the different spellings and pronunciations, they all refer back to the same Gaelic origin.

Curley: Where does the name Curley come from?

The surname Curley is of Irish origin, derived from the Gaelic name "Ó Coirbhe". The surname was first documented in Connacht, particularly in County Galway. The name is believed to have its roots in the words "Corra" meaning spear and "Bhile" meaning valor, both relating to characteristics of traditional warriors.

During the course of history, many Irish families were forced to Anglicize their names, and hence "Ó Coirbhe" became Curley, Corley, or Kerley. The Great Famine in Ireland (1845-1852) led to mass emigration rates, leading to a global dispersion of the Curley family.

Today, the Curley name is quite common in Ireland and the United States. According to Forebears, an online genealogy platform, in 2014 Ireland had the highest number of Curleys with approximately 1 in every 204 people bearing the surname, followed by England and the United States. Its variations such as Corley are particularly found in the United States. Overall, the surname remains prevalent in English-speaking territories.

Variations of the surname Curley

The surname Curley has its roots in the Irish language. It is an anglicized form of the Gaelic O'Coirbheil or O'Corbaly, which means "descendant of Corbally." The word Corbally stands for "exceptionally odd or rude person."

The surname has been spelled in various ways over the centuries, which could be due to different translations and pronunciations. Its variants include Curly, Curl, Corley, Corly, Corlee, Corleigh, Corlea, Corlie, Corlee, Curleigh, Curlea, Curlee, Curly, Kerley, Kearly, Kerlee, and Kerly.

In Ireland, Curley is predominantly found in the region surrounding County Galway, although it is also present to a lesser extent in County Mayo.

Due to emigration, especially during the time of the Great Famine in the 19th century, the surname is now widespread in countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom. The surname can also be found spelt as O'Curley or Mc Curley in some of these regions, signifying Irish Gaelic ancestry.

There are also variations of Curley or its prefix O' form depending on regional accents/dialects and anglicization over time. For example, the surname might be used in the forms O Kerley, O Kurley, Curley, or even Kerley in different regions and historical texts.

Famous people with the name Curley

  • Michael Curley: Prominent American Catholic prelate in the mid-20th century.
  • James Michael Curley: Politician in Massachusetts, known for four terms as Democratic Mayor of Boston.
  • Charles F. Curley: A well-known Republican Party politician from Wyoming.
  • Moe Howard, born Moses Harry Horwitz: Famously known as "Curly," was a member of the American comedy act The Three Stooges.
  • Jennifer Curley: An Australian sprint canoeist who competed in the early 1990s.
  • Jon Curley: Acclaimed American poet.
  • Thomas Curley: Academy Award-winning sound mixer, recognized for his work on the film Whiplash.
  • Jeremiah Curley: Irish actor known for his roles in television series and films like 'James Joyce’s Women.'
  • John P. Curley: A Republican politician famed as San Diego's mayor from 1971 to 1983.
  • Arthur Curley: An American librarian who served as president of the American Library Association. Please note that there are also characters with the last name Curley in literature and film, such as Curley from John Steinbeck's novel Of Mice and Men.

Other surnames


Order DNA origin analysis