Are "masculine" names for girls all that new?

+8 votes

According to this story parents are choosing 'masculine' names for their baby girls.

Having run into girls named Andrew, Wallace, Nicolas, John, William, Charles, David, Michael, Ellis and similar in the upper branches of my family, or just names I note as I search for my connections (Wallace the bride marrying James the groom!), I'm guessing these people have just never done any family history.

in The Tree House by Melanie Paul G2G6 Pilot (295k points)
I will say this, two of my brothers felt that they had gotten girl's names and they absolutely despised it, haha!

My grandmother had a penchant for apparently “girl” names for some of her boys: Carl Burnice, Thomas Arlene, Jackie Jean. My dad (Carl) hated his middle name and never signed his full name if he could get away with it. Uncle Buddy (Thomas) changed the spelling to “Arlen.” Jackie Jean died the day he was born, so he didn’t have time to come to hate his name.

All the girls in my families seem to have had “girl” names, but one name, a surname, became a middle name for several girls: Neal (which one of my daughters carries).

In the song, Frankie and Johnny Were Lovers, whose the girl (the song tells)?

Oh, heavens .. I'd forgotten that side of it.  I went to school with a Sharon and his brother whose name I can't recall, but do remember it always sounded feminine.

(Jean can be 100% male as it is actually John.)
Let's not forget "John Wayne"!
Never forget John Wayne! I hope we can draw the line as Candy always being a girl's name!

I hope we can draw the line as Candy always being a girl's name!


C, you're either not old enough to remember, or have forgotten Candy the ranch hand from Bonanza!  (I used to think he was kind of cute, but I was oh so young .. well, as young as anyone older than Methuselah's granny could be!)

I never did watch that show, so whoops! But I try not to watch a lot of televison because I heard people try to emulate what they see on tv. Which is one reason I never ever watch a modern show, ever! (I was considering putting a disclaimer on my profile: conceived in the 70's, so I am not lumped in the millennial category, ha!)

12 Answers

+4 votes
A lot of the names listed in that article are ones I would have called 'female' anyway - Frankie, Billie?
by anonymous G2G6 Pilot (257k points)
Yep .. as would I.  I guess that's why I posted the link.  I didn't see it as unusual or new.
+5 votes
Just off the top of my head, I don't think it's all that new. Certain "masculine" names have already become considered more likely to be "feminine." Hillary and Leslie were once considered strictly male.
by Amber Brosius G2G6 Mach 2 (22.3k points)
+5 votes
Local cultural norms make a difference and the article is from Australia. When I look at their list of "Feminine names for boys" I see a list of mostly traditionally neutral names, at least in the USA. The masculine list for girls is a mix. Using masculine names for girls isn't new. I've seen it in older records, especially when the name could have been a surname. Many of my female ancestors had a surname as middle name and some of those could have been masculine given names (e.g. I have an Elizabeth Dick McCallum born 1906). The trending comes and goes.
by Doug McCallum G2G6 Pilot (425k points)
Exactly, Doug.  I'm an Aussie and I didn't see anything unusual or "new" in the names.  Many of our forerunners bore last names as first names.
+7 votes
My 9th great grandmother was called Philip (1632-1710).  I had to put a note in bold at the top of the bio on her profile to stop kindly Data Doctors changing it to Philippa.
by Ros Haywood G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
I have a Nicolas.
Ros: There is a way to avoid this: (1) Go to the "Suggestions" entry at the bottom of the second drop down menu from the left. (2) Click on "Show suggestions in profiles managed by...". (3) Find the suggestion related to that profile and click on the "Status" button. (4) Write a comment, select "False suggestion (hide forever)", then click the "Update Status" button.
Thanks - but I did that two years ago.  Now it's not so much kindly Data Doctors as kindly WikiTreers passing by and thinking "Oh look, that must be a Phillippa, not a Phillip, I'll just change that"
+5 votes
Using whaat are traditionally opposite-gender names for newborns has always been around. Not a new thing at all.  As you suggest, anyone who has expanded their tree has probably found cases of tht.

My most prominent one was my paternal grandmother and her nest two sisters (early 1880s) who were named James, George, and Elija.  Apparentlly great grandfather wanted boys.  But calmer minds added feminine middle names.  so James (grandmother) was known as Jerrusha, Elija Ann became Elizabeth, and George Lula became Georgia.  Grandmother named my father after her sister George.

We gave each of our girls 4 or 5 names so they would have some level of choice when they got older.  No male names though.
by Art Black G2G6 Mach 4 (45.6k points)
Glenn Close!
+5 votes

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose. By any other name would smell as sweet." Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

I have encountered many where my assumption as to the person's sex based on the name was wrong.  Encountered more often when working on profiles where the first language is not English.

by Peter Geary G2G6 Mach 4 (44.3k points)
I work on a lot of Southern USA/pre-USA profiles, and the mother's maiden name is often used as a given name. I'm not that surprised to see that over the generations, it switches from use as a boys name to a girls name (or vice versa). But I have been surprised to find some instances of inconsistency among related families in the same area and generation (sometimes it's a case where the same family name is given to honor related grandparents/great-grands, but the male cousin was named for a grandfather and the female cousin was named for a grandmother).
+3 votes
I guess my strangest name combination would be of a girl who was born in 1854 and died in 1860. She was named Edward Victoria. I have had other instances of women with "masculine" names as mentioned in the above answers.
by Shirley Dalton G2G6 Pilot (487k points)
+4 votes
I have an aunt with the name Jessie and an adopted (you could say) uncle with the name Shannon.
by Chris McCombs G2G6 Mach 5 (55.7k points)
+4 votes

It's nothing new. There are a lot of traditionally masculine names that are now considered almost exclusively feminine. Ashley, Lindsey, Allison, Lauren, Addison, Madison, Beverly, Jocelyn, Joyce, Vivian...

There's a whole list on Behind the Name.

by Emily Yaden G2G6 Mach 1 (11.4k points)
I've had a male few ancestors name named Marion as well, though I think that was more seen as gender neutral rather than masculine.
Valerie, Evelyn, Valentine, Stacey/Stacie/Stacy, Lesley/Leslie.  What about the Latin (is it?) name use of "Jesus Mary and Joseph" as a use name .. not as separate names.  Kelly/Kellie/Kelley. . And so on.
+4 votes

E.G. Withycombe, The Oxford Dictionary of English Christian Names, in the Introduction under "Use of Men's Names for Women", quotes a 12th century (thats 1100s!) theological tract: "women often borrow men's names ('plerasque mulieres a viris sibi nomina solere mutuari')". The quoted tract's author goes on to point out that the borrowing is one-way, giving as the reason: "Women's names or nicknames are given to lazy, slothful, effeminate persons, not in their baptism, but on account of their vicious life."

The only thing that has changed since the 1100s in terms of gender fluidity in naming is that society as a whole has suppressed the knowledge of the underlying misogyny. We still think it's better to be a boy, or at least to be mistaken for one, but we no longer can express why this is so.

by J Palotay G2G6 Mach 6 (61.6k points)
+4 votes
Used as the first given name it is not a common occurrance but does happen on occasion. During the late Victorian period it was not uncommon for daughters to have the same middle name as their fathers first given name.
by George Churchill G2G6 Mach 8 (86.8k points)
+3 votes
I knew a guy in his 60s nowadays named Carmen.

In parts of Italy, the name Nicola was (is?) a male name. You come to the US, Nicola is considered a female name.

So long as the name isn't offensive or dangerous to the child, people can name their kids whatever they want.
by G. Borrero G2G6 Pilot (104k points)

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