“Boy names” and “girl names,” etc.

Alrighty, today I want to hear your thoughts on the gender of names broadly, and specifically your feelings on “boy names used for girls” and the resulting usability for boys.

I was motivated to ask by the dad’s opinion in yesterday’s consultation that Micah “is a girl’s name,” and so therefore he doesn’t want to consider it for a son, but it’s been on my mind lately anyway because of the (as most people would agree, I think) ultra-feminine name recently chosen as a man’s new identity — specifically because he wants to be known as a woman. And how that all goes along with the idea I’ve seen bandied about by some that “there’s no such thing as a boy’s name or a girl’s name” and “why is it acceptable to use a boy name for a girl but not vice versa?”

More personally, how do you feel about giving your son a name that might read “girl” to others?

I’m particularly interested in your responses as those who know, understand, and respect the Church’s teachings on: the dignity of men and women; the beauty and gift of the bodies we’ve been given; and the definition and importance of masculinity and femininity. St. Anne, please help keep our conversation holy and fruitful. ❤

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17 thoughts on ““Boy names” and “girl names,” etc.

  1. This issue is so hard to make sense of. I can’t help but consider it on a name-by-name basis. For example, I think that James is still a great name for boys, despite Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds using that name for their daughter and the potential trend that could start. However, I would never use Ashley or Kelly for my son (or daughter for that matter) because those names have so firmly been transferred to the girls name camp. But I also think of that the same way that I would never use Robert or David for a daughter, because those are such clear boy names. I respectfully disagree with the dad from yesterday’s post who considers Micah a “girls name.” That one is firmly in the boy camp for me.

    I’m always curious about parents’ intentions when names cause me to do a double take. Was it a “shock value” thing that they’re going for? Were they looking to honor someone regardless of their child’s gender? I wish everyone had to fill out a questionnaire along with their child’s birth certificate so we knew the thought process behind the name!

    Unfortunately, it’s clear that society at large still views feminine names on boys as an insult (i.e. the whole “you throw like a girl!” mentality), whereas masculine names for girls are considered an advantage. It’s unfortunate to think that a young boy with a Marian name could run into issues because of it. Whether people admit it or not, we impart these names on our children with some level of expectations. I think it’s our responsibility as parents to give our children names that come from our heart but also not to start them off with a disadvantage in life, but that in itself is still ambiguous because some people consider it a disadvantage to have a kreatyve spelling while some parents relish it.

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  2. In general, we’re big fans of being able to clearly identify the sex of our child by their first name. However, this is a big point of consideration for us since our children’s second middle names are the saint of their birthday. Our girls have both ended up with male saints as their second middle/birthday patrons. We didn’t know if our first girl was a boy or a girl, and there were a lot of Marian feast days around my due date, so we discussed a lot what we would do if we had a boy on a Marian day. We considered just Mary- St. Maximilian was Maximilian Mary in religious life, after all. We decided on Theotokos, but didn’t get to use it! I think it’s interesting when you consider saints and religious with names of the opposite sex. My husband’s family was close with a Sr. Mark Edward, for instance. Also, confirmation saints seem to often be saints of either sex, just to honor a devotion.

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    • Also, sometimes it is just perception. I saw Basil used for a girl, which is our next-up boy name. I can’t imagine using it for a girl; it just reads so masculine to me! But if I didn’t know about the saint? Maybe?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Or Hyacinth! My favorite girl name, but there are some amazing male St. Hyacinths. We know of a Catholic family who has a son named Hyacinth, but I’d have trouble using it for a boy. Such an interesting topic!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. We gravitate toward gender obvious names. We like less flowery girl names, though, so sometimes lines get blurred. We have. Boy named Blaise, which I’ve heard could go either way. He is all boy to us, though!

    Our new baby is coming any day, and we may honor St. Peter with Pierce for a boy or Petra for a girl. Not 100% yet. Too many names I love to settle till we meet the baby!

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  4. I know a lot of girls who have a boy name or nick name, and it doesn’t bother me too much. I would never do it to my daughters, but it works for those who have done it. (I know of a Jonnie, Jude, Charlee, and a Stevie to name a few)

    I am not opposed to a Marian name for a son, though I would probably do it as a middle, or refer to them by their middle name should the Marian name be chosen as a first.

    And, I absolutely refuse to use a name that is so “loosely” used either way. Names like Jessie/Jesse, Aaron/Erin, etc. They are great names and I know a few of each in both camps, but I prefer names that are clearly masculine or feminine. My husband disagrees with me on this point, but I feel strongly about it.

    There are a lot of names trickling through Catholic families who are taking some typical male names (similar to those mentioned above) and using them femininely and it sort of makes my little hair stand tall. I love that they love the name so much to give it even to a daughter…but why not feminize it some? Or give it as a middle name?

    Also, unrelated but something I have been itching to ask… Has it always been that one could chose a saint of the opposite sex for Confirmation, or is that a new fad??? I ask because I see that a lot of folks have chosen opposite-sex saints for the great sacrament, but when I was growing up I knew a woman who had to seek special permission from her Bishop to chose St Michael for her Confirmation name. Granted at that point it was probably 15 years prior, so would make it like 30 years from today, but this fascinates me greatly!

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  5. For our sons, we chose gender obvious names. I like Luca, Micah, Kelly and Kerry for boys only but I recognize that they’re used for girls too. It would probably keep us from using them frankly. I bristle a little when very traditional masculine names, like James and Noah, are used for girls. They are just so handsome for a boy. I can’t really see the appeal.

    We have Alexander and Alexandria (for St. Catherine) on our list but a gender neutral nickname like Alex doesn’t bother me because he or she can always use the full name too.

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  6. As a mom and a dad with gender neutral names — I being named Hollyce (supposed to be spelled Hollis, an unpopular great great grandpa era name) and he being named Kris — it’s an absolute no-go for our kids. Put us in the child’s-sex-is-obvious-by-name camp!

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  7. I much prefer for it to be obvious what gender a child has when it comes to names. But that’s just a personal preference. I feel like when people talk about this subject, it gets really heated and can get mean, and people forget that naming and name taste is a super personal thing. I know it will always stay civil here, but on different forums and it makes me sad when people start saying mean things about unisex/gender bender names. I like a lot of them, but would never use them (at least at this point as someone who is just into names, and is not having kids any time soon. who knows, if the future hubby loves them, I might just have to compromise)

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  8. I’m reading with interest the opinions of you younger, bright, faith-filled ,and devoted women…I find that as a mother and a grandmother, the “signs of the times” have begun to alter my attitude/degree of acceptance or lack thereof with certain issues. I’m not speaking of the right and wrong, but of the should we or shouldn’t we type decisions. Understanding that what I just wrote is as thick as mud, I just simply was trying to head toward certain issues being faced by God’s children today and how certain stances might be wise or unwise given these contemporary areas of “darkness” (not good). It seems to me that today’s culture has unisexed itself to an uncomfortable point…masculinity and femininity are not always being appreciated for the beauty of each for itself, and developments of sinful relationships seems to be ok with so many. Somehow, in view of that, it seems wise to me to do everything possible to strengthen the masculine or feminine in our children…emphasizing the great blessing of each. This opinion is certainly not chiseled in stone, but it’s food for thought. The important thing seems to be to just pray for God’s guidance when choosing a child’s name, and then be at peace.
    It really is great to “hear” all your different thoughts!

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  9. The first Micah I met (in college) happened to be a girl, so it has a feminine feel to me. Also the first Carrie I ever met was a boy and didn’t know a girl Kari/Kerry/Carrie until high school. I see it as a feminine name now. Julian also has a very feminine feel to me, even though it is primarily a boys name. It’s the name of my husband’s home town but I don’t think I could name a son it, because it is not masculine to me.

    I also know a married couple, Kelly and Pat, that I alway felt had their names mixed up, gender wise. Kelly (the man) I have only ever seen on a girl, except him. Pat (the woman) I see as a nickname for Patrick, even thought I know it can also be Patricia.

    My cousin Jordan ended up marrying a Jordan (spelled the same). Ever think of that problem they might encounter down the road in life? So we always end up having to distinguish, boy or girl Jordan? 😛

    I choose Isaiah as my confirmation name. My dad tried to say – you can’t pick a boys name. My response – yes I can, and I didn’t have a problem in doing so. But in naming my own children we have tried to pick name that are clearly one gender rather than the other (Kristy and Kane). irishannie: I really liked your thoughts

    What about two boy names that when put together sound feminine? The woman next door neighbor I grew up with was Bobbi Jo, whose best friend was Toni (middle name Ann and she used both names as one, just like Bobbi Jo – who was named after her parents Robert and JoAnn).

    Liked by 1 person

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