Feminine first name, masculine middle

Let’s sidetrack for one moment and talk about the O’Hara sisters:

Katie Scarlett, called Scarlett

Susan Elinor, called Suellen

Caroline Irene, called Carreen

Oh my. Margaret Mitchell did an amazing job.

This post was inspired by Gone With the Wind’s well-named main character (I think Scarlett O’Hara is one of the best character names ever), but it’s not about her, and not even about a character created by Margaret Mitchell, but about a character created by Alexandra Ripley, who (as I understand it) had been commissioned by Margaret Mitchell’s estate to write a sequel to GWTW. Though her effort, Scarlett, wasn’t nearly as good as GWTW, I loved reading an end to Scarlett and Rhett’s story (ooh how I hated the way GWTW ended), and one of the fabulous details she imagined was another child, Scarlett and Rhett’s, a little girl, whom Scarlett named Katie Colum (after her cousin, an Irish priest named Colum, to whom she had grown close) (she was nicknamed Cat).

I just swooned over Katie Colum! I thought it was so clever, a feminine first name with a masculine middle. I was thinking about it this morning, because I know a little girl named Annie Ryan — that’s her given name, first and middle — and it totally works. It’s so charming! Ryan is a family last name for her, so she doesn’t technically have a boy’s name for a middle, even though of course Ryan is a boy’s first name.

I tried to think of other combinations that could have a similar feel as Katie Colum and Annie Ryan — names that are clearly girly even though the middle is masculine. What I came to was, the first name seems to need to be kind of *really* girly, not just feminine — not Katherine but Katie. Not Anne but Annie. And the middle name can’t be just any masculine name, I don’t think. I thought Gracie James could work. Maybe Rosie Ray. And I’ve long thought that starting with Mary makes any name do-able for a girl, but does it? Could a girl really pull off Mary Maverick? Or Mary Thomas? Actually Mary Charles sounds kind of intriguing, but even then I’d likely want to find an everyday nickname like maybe Macy, and not call her Mary Charles all the time. Certainly this brings to mind the religious names — Sr. Mary Edward or even Sr. Charles Francis — but that’s different than giving the name to a baby girl and intending to use the whole name as the everyday name. (I also know a little Elinor James, but she goes by Elinor/Ellie, so not exactly what I mean.)

I think this might be more common in the South? Where there’s a feminine first name but a masculine or lastname middle? But then I think the tradition is to go by the middle name all the time? Like Jane Prentiss who goes by Prentiss? Do any of you know any girls or women with names like this? Or can you think of other possibilities like Katie Colum and Annie Ryan?


9 thoughts on “Feminine first name, masculine middle

  1. J.M.J.
    Love the Gone With the Wind names…never even gave them much thought, but they are really great names, and Katie Colum certainly seems to have kept that standard!

    Had fun thinking of your question, sanctanomina! I am sure you will all laugh at what came to my mind…Ben-Hur and the Walton Family from the TV Series…John-Boy, Jim-Bob…actually it doesn’t even really answer your question because you asked in regard to feminine then masculine, but it got me thinking of possibilities that sound good to my mind and ear. Here goes — Bridie Paul, Mamie Liam, Stephenie Jude, Kerry(or Kelly) Sean, and Rosary (Rosey) Finn. A thought of mine is that your point of making sure the first name is “really girly” is what makes it gender enhancing…therefore, lovely as femininity should be!

    P. S. Just for anyone who is interested the rest of the Walton Family names are Jason, Mary Ellen, Erin, Ben, Joseph (Jim-Bob’s twin who passed on at birth) and Elizabeth. John and Olivia were the Mom and Dad, and Esther and Zeb* (Zebulon) were John’s parents. I am not sure I see or hear or think of a pattern for that grouping of names…do any of you?
    *love “Zeb”…”Zebbie”


    • Nice ideas! I particularly like Stephenie Jude and Rosary (Rosey) Finn. Cute! Hmm … off the top of my head, Jason, Mary Ellen, and Erin strike me as popular in that era and not so much now, but I’d have to check the stats to see if I’m right. Ben, Joseph, and Elizabeth are classic-y classic all the way, solid, Biblical. Esther and Zeb(ulon) have a Jewish feel to me; John has no association for me, and Olivia is surprising! Zeb/Zebbie is super cute. 🙂


  2. I love feminine firsts with masculine middles! I work at an all-girls school where we have some amazingly named ladies with that combination who actually go by both names. Some of my favorites are: Mary Gordon, Mary Charles, Mary Thomas, Clara Stewart, Anne Lucas, and Anne Preston. My husband and I actually would seriously consider Mary Klaus (his name – with the nickname Mary Kay)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I can’t think of a specific example right now, but I have been noticing an upswing in using the name “Gray/Grey” as a second or middle name. Gray has a very masculine feel to me because it’s my father’s name (actually, a nickname for Graham). I always thought it would be neat to use it as a middle name for either a boy or girl. Not sure I would call the child Gray every day, but kind of reminds me of this concept. A very girly name would be needed for the first name, though!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. We have a Mary Tom in our family (born during WWII when her father, Tom, was deployed). Not Mary Thomas… Just Mary Tom. I’ve always kind of liked that.

    And more similarly to the surname as middle like Annie Ryan, my aunt is Mary Allen – Allen was her maternal grandmother’s maiden name.

    I do really enjoy this concept, as well as the GWTW portmanteau nicknames like Carreen. I have always thought Louisa Jane could be cute as Lujane.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. My dh and I are currently in this discussion. We really want the middle name for our dd to be thomas, but trying to pair the first part is harder than I expected. We initially thought mary thomas (mary tom), but now I’m second guessing the combo.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ohhh Mary Tom’s adorable!! I personally think Mary+ makes any name doable. 🙂 Not that you’re asking but …. I could see lots of really feminine names pairing well with it! Something like … Anna Thomas? But I do really like Mary Thomas. If you want to share what you end up with, I’d love to hear! 🙂


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