Feminized masculine names?

In the past couple of weeks I’ve heard about two different husbands who don’t like “girl names that came from boy names.”* Have you heard this? Do you share this opinion?

I guess I could see it if a family made a point of letting everyone know they hoped for a boy, and then when a girl was born and she was a given a feminized masculine name — that might seem a little weird. Like they were so hoping for a boy that they didn’t even have a girl name picked out, like she was a disappointment.

Or, in a family like mine, where there are a whole bunch of boys and no girls, if Little Miss were to show up and be given a feminized masculine name — that might seem a little weird too. Like really? After all those boys named, you can’t come up with a girl name?

But otherwise, I’m just thinking of all the gooorgeous, really beautiful, really feminine names that are missed out on! Like:

Josephine

Victoria

Christiana (and all the Christ-/Kris- names)

Paulina

Michaela and Michelle

Tamsin

Maybe Olivia (it may or may not be derived from Oliver)

Jane

Joanna

Jacinta

Simone

Pippa

Francesca

Gabrielle and Gabriella

Even the Juli- names come ultimately from Julius (and what’s more stereotypically feminine than Juliet??)

And that’s just the briefest smattering of examples. I’m certainly not begrudging anyone their taste — I mean, your taste is your taste, you can’t make yourself like something you don’t like. But the names that are missed out on! And how overwhelmingly feminine these name are! Some of them downright frilly! Wives of such husbands, you are good women. 😉


*This is different than actual boy names used for girls.

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20 thoughts on “Feminized masculine names?

  1. That’s so interesting, Kate! I love so many names in this category – Ottilie and Georgia and Alexandra. Oh, and Caroline is my favorite – one of our daughter’s middles!

    We have Josephine on our shortlist for a daughter after my great-grandfather Giuseppe. Joseph has been on a possibility, too, but my heart belongs to elegant Josephine. Plus the story of St. Josephine Bakhita makes it all the more more meaningful.

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  2. I have a soft spot for names like this… the feminization, in most cases, truly feminizes the name. I think perhaps one reason some men (especially American men?) struggle with this is because we don’t have a strong sense of “gender” in our language. What I mean is, when you speak German, even nouns have “gender” and there are certain words and letter combos that identify the gender (and this is the case for most other languages, I think). Like in Spanish, an “o” ending is often masculine and an “a” ending is often feminine, thus allowing roots of words to exist in both genders – distinctly feminine or masculine yet still the same root word. If you are used to that in your language, than feminizing a masculine name would seem natural, I would think, but we don’t really have that built into English. Pure speculation, here!

    For me personally, the most unusual choice for a girl’s name after say, 8 boys, would be a gender neutral name. I have, however, run into this more than once. Because I have a love for feminine names naturally, I would want to seize the opportunity to use one when a girl came around, regardless of whether the origin is masculine!

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  3. And another angle on this… we will never have a baby Natalia even though it was on our short, agreed upon list because it is a feminine version of our son’s name. Having a son with a masculine “Nat” name does not fulfill my love of Natalia, haha – not at all. They are different regardless of their shared meaning and origin! So I have had to make peace with the reality that we won’t be having a Natalia (and had we had a Natalia, I would have had to mourn letting go of our boy name).

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  4. (although TECHNICALLY my example is not really a direct feminization of the masculine name, I have to imagine that parents with a Joseph who also love Josephine have to go through the same thing… most feel they must choose between either Joseph or Josephine for a first name for their children).

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  5. Kate!! This is such a timely post!! We are in the hospital waiting for Olive Faustina and today is the Feast of St. Mark. Any suggestions??? Olive Faustina Mark? Or do you have suggestions of a feminized form? Since he is on the universal calendar, both old and new, and there are no other minor saints we like more, I feel like we should probably use it.

    Let me know your thoughts ASAP!!

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    • Ooh alrighty, I don’t know if you’re going to think this is too far afield from Mark, but my trusty source behindthename.com tells me “Mark is a form of Marcus” –> Marcus is a “Roman praenomen, or given name, which was probably derived from the name of the Roman god MARS” –> Mars is “Possibly related to Latin “mas”=”male” (genitive maris)” — it’s the genitive “maris” that made me think of Stella Maris and Our Blessed Lady. Maybe? You could use a Marian name, maybe Maris exactly? Olive Faustina Maris? Or Maria? Especially since Mario is said to be possibly from the same origin as Mark, where Mario is “Italian and Spanish form of MARIUS” –> Marius “Roman family name which was derived either from MARS, the name of the Roman god of War, or else from the Latin root “mas, maris” meaning “male” … Since the start of the Christian era, it has occasionally been used as a masculine form of MARIA.”

      Another option is the Irish form of Mark is given as Marcas — kind of cool with the slight change in spelling and its Irishness?

      Or, St. Mark’s officially “Mark the Evangelist,” so — Evangeline?

      Or, St. Mark’s the patron of Venice, where he’s said to be buried, so — Venice? Or the Italian form Venezia? (St. Mark’s Basilica is there.)

      Is this helpful?? I’m loving the Marian connection, but any of them are great! Or even if you do Mark, it’s such a cool tradition your family has!

      Congratulations!!!!! I can’t wait to hear the update!!!

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      • We loved the Evangeline suggestion, and that was actually my husband’s favorite other than just using Mark, but our dear friends just named a daughter Evangeline two weeks ago, so we felt like we couldn’t use it, especially so soon!

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    • Or Marcelle/Marcella/Marcela or even Zella, which is a German diminutive form of Marcella — they’re all feminine forms of Marcellus, which is a “Roman family name which was originally a diminutive of MARCUS. This was the name of two popes.”

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  6. I love Marcelle! I have a son Mark and have already thought how lovely it would be if he would use Marcelle for a daughter one day. I’m named Laura after my dad Lawrence and so I don’t mind the use of feminized masculine names.

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  7. I think some of the feminine versions of male names are literally some of the MOST feminine, girly names out there. I mean, VICTORIA?! Seriously.

    I completely disagree with these husbands! Sorry fellows!

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