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Ashley originates in Old English language and means "meadow of ash trees". It was derived from an Old English place name and surname. Initially, it was more popular as a masculine given name, popularized by the character of Ashley Wilkes in the novel and a subsequent film Gone With the Wind. In the second half of the 20th century it started being used more as a feminine given name, possibly popularized by the soap opera character of Ashley Abbott in the TV show The Young and The Restless.