Death by androgyny? The old name rules meet the new generation

Oct 21st 2009

It's one of the classic maxims of the baby name business: most parents who like "androgynous" names really like masculine-sounding names for both sexes. Parents of boys carefully avoid anything feminine. When a boy's name starts to show up on the girl's chart, the male version's days are usually numbered. Take a look at the NameVoyager graph of Leslie for a classic example.

In the past decades we've seen an explosion of new androgynous names. In addition to the 65 names that make both top 1000 lists, countless more names are surnames that could go either way (Jensen), new inventions you'd have to guess at (Braelyn), or spelling variations on androgynous names (Kamren and Camren make the top 1000 for boys only, Kamryn only for girls, Camryn both). It's not just individual names used for both sexes, it's a broad androgynous style that's defining a generation of names.

Does that mean an entire generation of names is destined to turn feminine? Will boys eventually find themselves stranded on a tiny name island with nothing but kingly classics and absurdly macho inventions to choose from? Don't panic yet, parents of boys. There are reasons to think that this crop may be different

Remember that the common wisdom on androgynous names comes from a history of long-time male names being adopted by females. Many of today's favorite emerged simultaneously as names for both sexes. What happens when a name starts out gender-neutral? Is one sex destined to "win" the name, or can it maintain a balanced sex ratio over time? And if there is a winner, who wins?

In many cases, these questions end up moot because the trendy names fade away before any resolution. Yet examples are mounting to suggest that the old rules may not apply, and all bets are off.

Take a look at the name Devin, in all its many spellings. 50 years ago it was essentially unknown, then it started climbing for boys and girls alike. The boys eventually took the lead, and in 2006 every spelling (Devin, Devon, Devyn) dropped off the girls' chart simultaneously, leaving the name suddenly, authoritatively masculine. The girls, meanwhile, are "winning" Addison. And still other names are showing staying power on both sides of the charts. As in the case of Kamren/Camren/Kamryn/Camryn, many of these splinter into multiple variants, each with its own sex ratio. For instance, Jalen is masculine, Jaelyn feminine, and Jaylin a tossup. What that means, in practice, is that you can't assume anything when you hear the name.

So it seems that unlike established names, new androgynous names don't inevitably tip toward the feminine. The trick is, they don't inevitably do anything. What crystal ball could have told you 15 years ago that Ashton would end up masculine and Addison feminine? In each case, the name's fluid gender identity made it easy for a celebrity example to shape public perception. (Check out this past post on Ashton to watch the forces of celebrity in action.) You can weigh risk factors, like whether the name contracts to a girlish or boyish sounding nickname. But in the end, if you choose a new androgynous name today you have to be prepared that 10 or 20 years down the line it may come across very differently.


October 22, 2009 12:31 AM

Anna - on further reflection, I think the issue for me is not that a name (like Linden) will be perceived as a "girl name" in 20 years when my son would be an adult with similarly-named peers; for me, it's the classification of the name right now.

In fact, to share a little back story on the name Linden, I first liked the name for a little girl after reading it on a girl name list somewhere. When I mentioned it to my husband, he thought it was a better name for a boy. I pondered on this for a minute and moved it to my boy name list, agreeing that it could easily be a nice boy name. I really like the name and the tree association, but what gives me pause is that on baby name websites, it is usually listed as a girl name. So when a teacher (or future employer) reads this name on a list, would they assume Linden was female?

By Guest (not verified)
October 22, 2009 12:33 AM

Chimu, for some reason Dana is still unisex to me, I think because I grew up with 2 Dana's that were boys. What about Hilary, Whitney or Vivian as girl only names? I think Ashley might be a hard name for a boy to pull off in the States nowadays.

By Guest (not verified)
October 22, 2009 12:39 AM

Not really relating the topic, but I overheard a group of teenage boys talking about names today. They were talking about how stupid it was that girls were named boy's names like Charlie or Sam, so they wanted to give their future sons super-feminine names. They were trying to come up with the frilliest, girliest name possible.

Ironically, the only names they could come up with were originally dominated by males (although I don't believe they knew that). Their list included names such as Kelly, Shelby, Ashley, Whitney, and Courtney.

October 22, 2009 12:47 AM

p.s. daisy_kay, AmyElizabeth, and zoerhenne - thanks for your insights!

I want to clarify that I'm not troubled by using a "softer" (for lack of a better word) boy name because I'm worried my son will be perceived as weak -- in fact, as I tried to explain in my earlier post, I'm really attracted to that style of male names precisely because I value sensitivity (among other traits) and want any future son to not feel constrained to follow uber-masculine stereotypes.

So where does my hesitation in using some of those names come from? Well, it seems that deep down, I'm not quite ready to commit to complete androgyny. :)

By Guest (not verified)
October 22, 2009 12:54 AM

Amy, I also think there's something to be said about your friend's theory. Now that Carrie has fallen out of the top 1000, I think Cary would make a pretty stylish choice for a boy. Shannon is also a name I'd love to see make a comeback for boys.

October 22, 2009 1:36 AM

plain jane,

for what it's worth, quinn is still a boy's name to me, and every time i hear mention of it on a girl, i find it very odd.


"I actually see the trend [androgyous names] as a good thing. I don’t like the idea that only boys should be perceived as strong or confident and only girls should show traits of softness and beauty."

i absolutely agree, that girls should be allowed to be strong and confident and boys should be allowed to be quiet and sensitive. it is just a bit strange to me that anyone would think they had to give their daughter an androgynous name in order for her to be perceived as strong. i don't know why on earth an isabella would be perceived as less strong than a jordan or a taylor. i don't's just my opinion. to me, naming your daughter an androgynous name(or a name commonly given to boys) with the intent of making her sound strong says, "i think that a woman has to be exactly like a man in order to be strong." and i definitely take issue with that. i think a woman can be very different from a man and still be very strong and powerful and confident. in fact, i think it's really good that women and men are different (in how they communicate or how they problem solve, etc, etc).

i don't mean that everyone who gives their daughter an androgynous name feels this way. maybe they just think jordan is a beautiful and dignified name for their daughter or maybe the place holds special significance for them or maybe they're naming her after a relative. regardless of whether or not i personally prefer them, there are tons of great reasons to give your daughter an androgynous or boyish name.

i just think that we make a mistake when we say that giving our daughters boy-ish names means they're stronger. to me that means: girls aren't strong unless they are like boys. and i do not believe that.

in summary, i think that giving girls androgynous names to portray strength actually *reinforces* the idea that men are strong and women aren't, rather than abolishing it.

also, sorry qwen, i was not trying to pick on you. i'm not saying that you think any of this; your quote just made me think of it. it is not an attack! :]

By Julie Steinberg (not verified)
October 22, 2009 1:58 AM

Wow, I am not a fan of androgynous names and thought I was playing it safe naming my son Eliot.

I wonder if we will ever see any of the new girl names trend over to boys. Madison comes to mind...

By Anna (not verified)
October 22, 2009 2:23 AM

A really great story about a A Boy Named Allison

By K. H. (not verified)
October 22, 2009 2:26 AM

I think it's interesting that "androgynous" names seem to be popular amongst people who aren't "androgynous" in how they raise their children. I mean nothing offensive, and by no means is my observation scientific, but I've noticed that there remains a lot of "pink" vs. "blue" in our culture -- disney princess girls vs. all-out cars/trains/trucks boys. My very unscientific observation of my own friends, acquaintances and family members is that those with kids with more androgynous names tend to be less androgynous in how they handle the culture stuff (an exaggerated example would be buying Disney princess toys instead of gender neutral toys like blocks or legos). Totally unscientific. But I'm curious if others have the same sense?

By K. H. (not verified)
October 22, 2009 2:40 AM

You know, after I posted my comment I began to think of all the exceptions to the observation I noted above. Isn't that the way it goes?

But I guess my initial wondering was if there's an American cultural gut that pushes the pink or blue if it isn't obvious with the name choice -- and that's why I bothered to comment.

By sarah smile (not verified)
October 22, 2009 2:44 AM

Anna, that was a great essay. Reminds me of the song about the boy named Sue.

By Eo (not verified)
October 22, 2009 4:43 AM

EVie, I've always liked that "Shirley" example. Imagine how daring it was for Bronte to give her heroine a surname-name like that in Victorian England.

As far as Leslie/Lesley, growing up in Canada, I was always aware of the British favoring of the "-ie" spelling for boys, and the "-ey" for girls, although Canadians didn't necessarily follow that. Not surprised that Australia goes with the British model, Liz&Louka.

Remember English movie star Leslie Howard? An "ie" spelling who played the very American and Southern Ashley (ey!) Wilkes in "Gone With the Wind".

Name authorities Leslie Dunkling (an Englishman, by the way) and William Gosling trace the Lesley "ey" spelling for girls to famed poet Robert Burns who wrote in the eighteenth century about a 'bonnie Lesley' in a poem.

They write-- "Lesley was an early spelling... of the surname, but Burns's use of it for a girl established it as the normal feminine form of Leslie in Britain.... The American spelling of the feminine name remained Leslie, probably under the influence of the French actress Leslie Caron,... on screen from 1951. Miss Caron also caused spelling confusion in Britain, and many girls were now called Leslie for the first time."

There you have it!

Trivia: Bob Hope's (who was born in Britain) real first name was Leslie.

One American actress that I know of uses the British "ey" spelling-- Lesley Ann Warren.

By Bue (not verified)
October 22, 2009 7:20 AM

Guest has got me thinking with that funny story about the teenage boys. What makes us, as a society, feel that a name is masculine or feminine, anyway? It's all so fluid and subjective. I'm sure at one point Hilary (along with Shirley, Vivian etc.) sounded strong and masculine. Yet when my mother chose it for me she thought it was wonderfully feminine.

While I don't love androgynous names, I guess I fail to see why people feel boys should have a 'lock' on some of them. I mean, Jordan is a river. That doesn't have a gender, so why should the name?

Incidentally, in Alberta (and maybe parts of the US?) the 70s crossover names are still quite prevalent on young men - Kelly, Tracy, etc. And, go figure, I find them completely charming and extremely masculine on those cowboys!

October 22, 2009 9:12 AM

Emilyrae I think you are right on the money with the idea that using the argument "boys names are strong" only defeats the very problem parents are trying to circumvent. Girls shouldn't have to "be like boys" in order to be taken seriously. Why can't a traditional girl name be considered strong, confident, intelligent, etc? By rejecting "too feminine" names for their daughters, we just perpetuate that idea. Which is not to say that if you absolutely love the name Emerson for your girl that you should't choose it, but don't choose it solely because you think it will help her resume someday. If the employer is that biased, what do you think they will do when she walks into the interview and they see she is female when they were expecting a male? Will their bias suddenly be erased? I guess I've always hard a hard time grasping the "resume argument."

Ironically, I think a name like "Virginia" sounds more serious and strong to me than a name like "Madison", but maybe that's because Madison hasn't been around as long as a girls name to feel as "established" to me.

October 22, 2009 9:25 AM

I find androgynous names lead not to interesting birth announcements, but to interesting Wedding announcements instead:

I have met a number of Chris and Chris couples as an example. I suppose the Jordan and Jordyn couple is the next wave...

By Guest (not verified)
October 22, 2009 9:27 AM

Plain Jane - I completely agree with your comment about some of the more 'established' names sounding stronger than some of their contemporary and androgynous counterparts. As an example, I think Eleanor, Margaret and Charlotte sound 'stronger' than Camryn, Jayden and Madison do.

By roundabout (not verified)
October 22, 2009 9:28 AM

I have a horse in this race, as a bearer of an androgynous name.

My parents named me (a female) Jaimie back in the '70s. They met a woman with this name, and I think they found it different and interesting (they also thought that this unusual spelling was the 'female' spelling. I sometimes worry that people will think it's a kre8v spelling on my part ... but at least it makes phonetic sense! And I must admit I like the symmetry of it written out.)

I didn't always like having an androgynous name growing up (and I do think that Jamie is one of the names that has remained truly androgynous). Perhaps as a result, I favour distinctly masculine and feminine names for my own children.

October 22, 2009 9:45 AM

Wow this is such a great thread-so much to comment on.
My tree has a Leslie on it. HE was my great gpa. I believe he spelled it Leslie but I have seen documents with -ey. I found this odd as growing up I knew female Leslie's (that sp) and never thought of it as a male name. I still feel this way about some names-Courtney, Ashley, Avery, etc all feel female. Some like Jordan are totally androgynous and can go both ways for me.

Also being a St@cey, it was odd for me to realize that it could be a male name as sp Stacy. I knew of Stacy Keach the actor but no others. Then as I got older found many sports stars and African Ams with this spelling. It's still weird when I occasionally get mail addressed to Mr. Stacy LN as this is NOT me!

There is a neighbor named Kerry who is male. His son is named after him but not called Kerry. Maybe because of the gender stamp. I also know a little girl named Riley (not sure of sp) and a little boy named Rowan. Riley just had a sib born but I forget the name-it was again another androgynous name.

I think it's a style/sound thing for a lot of people. For some it is a family thing. I know for me, I would not do it because of the confusion it would cause. Although I do like Jordan quite a bit (for a girl). I believe this is why some names have so many kre8tiv spellings also. Jordyn or Jordin are "supposed" to show its a girl, while Jordan and Jorden can remain on the boys side.

October 22, 2009 9:48 AM

Going back to the princess thread for a bit-

A couple of years ago Disney entered the bridal market with a line of fairytale wedding dresses. The line is still going strong and now the designer, Kirstie Kelly is expanding into fine jewelry. National Jeweler reports that Kelly's new line of diamond wedding and engagement rings, "Kirstie Kelly for Disney by Mouawad" debuted this week as part of Bridal Fashion Week in New York. The line consists of six engagement rings with matching wedding bands that correspond to six Disney heroines, Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Princess Jasmine from Aladdin, Ariel from The Little Mermaid and Belle from Beauty and the Beast. The Disney rings are being sold as semi-mounts (center stone not included) and retail for $1,200 to $6,000.

I guess if you want a REAL fairytale wedding you must go all out huh?

October 22, 2009 9:52 AM

Megan W.:

Do you mean like the marriage between Kelly Hildebrandt and Kelly Hildebrandt recently?

I just want to know if they'll hyphenate. ;)


Thanks for the insight! Do you feel that having an androgynous name has created an extra burden on you?

For the record, I have a masculine name, and it hasn't created a burden on me for being masculine. (The burden for it being common, that's another story.)


What happens if a mother in Norway wants to name her child, say, Kaylen? How does it interact with Norway's naming laws?

October 22, 2009 10:01 AM

Being a 20-something male Kelly I thought that I'd give my word on the unisex name issue. I like my name and I would not be afraid to consider an androgynous name for my own son (but he wouldn't have the same name as me, since I'm not a fan of juniors). I also agree with the theory that previous crossovers (e.g. Dana, Kelly, Morgan, Shannon) have the potential to be seen as masculine again once their female popularity dwindles off.

I think the issue is also a generational one, with today's new parents tending to be more willing to consider less masculine names for boys than their parents were. This was the subject of a post awhile back at my blog, at this link:

By Anna (not verified)
October 22, 2009 10:08 AM

Why is it a concern that a teacher will read a name on a list and not be able to conclude whether this student is a boy or a girl? (Trista #26 and DRDS have mentioned this). Are there any situations where "irreparable damage" can be done before the teacher actually meets the student, which hopefully should clear up any confusion? (I don't mean to be rude, I'm just asking).

Regarding employers: In my "circles" the absolute standard is to list basic information at the top of your resume, e.g.:
Name: Anna
Gender: Female
Birthday: ...
Address: ...
Is this different from US standards? My "circle" is very international, and while "Anna" usually labels me as female immediately, many other Swedish names are hard to guess. E.g. Kalle and Kille - one is boy, one is girl. I've met an male Austrian named Ferry (what would you have guessed?), a male German named Hainer and so on. With Chinese, Korean, Japanese... names I have no clue.

October 22, 2009 10:22 AM

hmm. upon reflection, i would like to take back my comment at the very beginning of the comments section that i dislike androgynous names. not only is it not very nice--it's also not even true. i don't actually dislike any of the androgynous names brought up (hayden, riley, jordan, kelly, corey, jaime, etc). it is true that i do not want to use them for my own children (due to the confusion that zoerhenne mentioned and the fact (as plain jane said) that i generally find traditionally-gendered names (for both boys and girls) the stronger choice). but i do like them as names.

hmm...i think there are a lot of different ways to write a resume, and i'm fairly young and don't have a ton of experience doing it, but mine definitely did not have my gender or my birthday (though obviously with my name, my gender is not difficult to guess). i don't think putting either of those is standard at all here. it's basically just your name and contact info (address, phone number, email, maybe a fax number...). at least, i think that is all mine has.

October 22, 2009 10:16 AM


In the USA genders and ages are not on the resume. My wife also mentioned that a photo is standard to be added in Germany. Such a practice, although not spelled out, would be forbidden in the US. An employer cannot ask for one when collecting resumes, and if a candidate submits a photo with the resume, chances are high that the entire resume will be tossed by the employer so that no apparent bias-for or against-will be seen.

By Anna (not verified)
October 22, 2009 10:36 AM

Enlighten me, please: Which is correct "boy's name" or "boy names" or "boys names" or "boys' names" or ???

Zoerhenne "I think it's a style/sound thing for a lot of people"

Yup, that's my impression as well. I've seen a lot of "oh, boys' names on girls are so hot right now!" and very little "I want a strong, masculine name for my little girl". And sometimes it seems like a competition; who dares to go even further into the territory of boys' names. George on a girl?!

Zoerhenne (again) - Disney wedding dresses and jewellery... are they targeting all those 9-13 year old brides?

Kelly - Girl-Kelly peaked 40-50 years ago and I actually think this name has the potential to go back to being a male name, either as Kelly or Kelley. I think the sound of Kelly is "masculine" enough and I could see certain circles wanting to claim their Irish Boy-Kelly back?!

By roundabout (not verified)
October 22, 2009 10:42 AM


I don't think I'd go so far as to say an androgynous name was a burden. I think that when you're a child, still working towards defining your self-image, it can be demoralizing when a teacher says "Oh, Jaimie! I thought you were going to be a boy!" Much in the same way that a child with an unusual haircut (say, a boy with long hair) would be very dismayed to be mistaken for a girl.

A PARENT may think "oh, I don't differentiate, a child is a child, doesn't matter if it's a boy or a girl." But a child cares very much whether they are a boy or a girl, and known as such.

Having said all that, I think that an androgynous/masculine name on a girl has a sort of sassy, tomboy appeal to many parents.

October 22, 2009 10:48 AM

haha. several are correct (in my opinion). in fact, the only one that i would say is NOT correct is "boys names."
boy's name
boys' names
are both possessive. the first is singular possessive and the second is plural possessive. i think "boy names" also works with boy operating as an adjective modifying "names."
so, lots of options to choose from. :] i'm sure no one here cares much which you choose.
(the word "boy" is starting to look reeaaally strange to me now.)

i definitely agree that for most people, it's more of a style thing than a wanting-your-daughter-to-sound-strong thing. but i DO hear the "strong name" argument fairly often, and it bothers me every time.

October 22, 2009 11:11 AM

Anna-I'm not sure about the Disney jewelry concept. I know I did not harbor visions of being a princess past say about 5, but I cannot speak for others :)

re punctuation: The apostrophe shows possesion so I believe the following are correct:
The boy's name was George. (one boy/one name)
I prefer boy names for my girl. (many names)
Boy's names are things like Christopher + Michael. (many names of many boys)
The boys' names were all Aiden. (many boys/one name)

October 22, 2009 11:15 AM

if you want the third example to show many names of many boys, then it should be "boys' names." "boy's" only refers to one boy. unless i am misunderstanding your meaning.

By Guest (not verified)
October 22, 2009 11:23 AM

I have a friend who desperately wanted a boy (she's expecting a girl this fall). She and her husband are both on the masculine side - they both play rugby, soccer and numerous other sports. Many of our high school friends who hadn't seen her in a while were shocked to hear that she was married (to a man) and pregnant. Needless to say, she's not a girly-girl. She wants to name her daughter Blake and already is avoiding anything pink, swears she won't put her daughter in dresses, or allow her to take ballet, etc.

Personally, I think it's unfair to her child. I know that Blake Lively is a famous girl-Blake, but I think of Blake as a boy's name (now I'm all nervous about the appropriate apostrophe usage). She is of the mindset that Zoerhenne and Anna describe above, that it would be 'so cool' to have a little girl named Blake. I'm about to sound incredibly judgmental, but I think this little girl is going to have a hard enough time identifying herself as a girly-girl (if that's what she wants to be, and Karma has it that she's going to be the girliest in the bunch) that having a 'boy'-name is going to make it even more difficult.

By Guest (not verified)
October 22, 2009 11:32 AM

Zoerhenne and Anna, I had the pleasure of attending a Disney themed wedding this summer (you'd be VERY shocked how many adults love all things Disney). Luckily the couple didn't go overboard with the Disney theme. The gown was a Disney design and one of the cakes was in the shape of a carriage. The bride's gown looked like any ballgown-styled wedding dress you could see from other fashion designers. I was actually surprised everything was so tasteful.

October 22, 2009 12:04 PM

emilyrae-You are right. I was doing the best I could and even looked it up but I'll admit even I get confused over those things.

Guest#81-I'm sure it was lovely. I didn't mean to imply that adults couldn't like Disney or want to use that theme, and especially that it couldn't be done tastefully. I was just remarking about how the makers felt the need to specifically title the jewelry as such. I always noted the names of shoe styles in catalogs as well. Do people really choose to wear a shoe style named Fiona or Isabella over Blake because of the name alone?

Guest#80-I like Blake as a girl's name. It's a bit like Jordan and completely adrogynous to me. It sounds strong but not overly masculine (like Elliott does to me). I guess because of its similarity to Blaine/Blayne whom I grew up knowing as a girl. She may develop issues because of her mother's personality but I don't believe her name specifically will cause her pain in and of itself.

October 22, 2009 12:12 PM

zoerhenne: not a big deal--english is hard!

October 22, 2009 12:13 PM

Woah, miss the beginning of a new post and I'm so behind!

Very interesting topic. I don't KNOW that we're headed for a time when some names will truly be gender neutral, but I think we are. I think Taylor is a great example. I feel like it's been pretty neutral my whole life (in my experience) which is a pretty long time. And that's just one example relating only to me, but I think with soo many names popping up that don't have a history either way Jadyn this is pretty likely.

I think also with names like Jadyn the parents are not necessarily going for androgynous, but instead for a creative stamp-- these are the parents who want help their child stand out from the crowd by making up something special for them (even if unfortunately for them many others get the same idea). So it's not about Annabella being too girly, but about it being too much of a classic and not "original." At least those are my guesses:)

Linneaus- Love your Hayden post, ha! To actually think about it thought, the first Hayden I met was a girl in college so I first thought of it at a girls name. I still think it makes a lot of sense as a girls name, but I actually like it for boys too. It seems more sensitive- sort of a modern Simon if that makes sense...

Sarah Smile- Great point about the change in androgynous/feminine nn trends!

jimbob- Oh I really don't like the idea of Gideon on a girl, that definitely sounds like a boys name to me!! For Noah, I think Noa is definitely on the girls side and I don't know if it's climbing but I think it could easily rise alot.

Eo- What book by Dunkling and Gosling is your quote from? Thanks for clearing that up btw!

And to follow-up from the last post... Anna, Swedish doesn't have a future tense? That's really interesting. What do you do if you want to talk about the future (to ask an obvious question:)?

By Anna (not verified)
October 22, 2009 12:13 PM

Guest #81 - Apologies where apologies are due; I mocked Disney jewellery and wedding dresses with a typical Disney cartoon princess in mind, but I've never actually seen their designs. I'm sure it can be both lovely and tasteful.

October 22, 2009 12:15 PM

Anna- When I was teaching, I wanted to know what gender each child was before they began because I would assign seating and wanted to balance the room the best I could. (Most of the time desks were arranged in small groups for cooperative learning.) Gender was always one of the things I kept in mind... I didn't want to have 1 boy sitting with 5 girls or vise-versa. That being said, I've always received gender information on each child. So, I already knew that when Skyler walked through the door on the first that the he was a he and not a she.

October 22, 2009 12:34 PM

jenny l3igh,
japanese doesn't have a future tense either. i don't know what it's like in swedish, but in japanese, they basically use present tense and it is generally clear from the context that the future is being discussed. we actually do it in english too. it's like saying, "tomorrow i'm going to the store."
"i'm going to the store" is (or can be, at least) present tense. but it is clear from the rest of the words in the sentence that it is intended to be future tense.

oh, and i just looked up the disney wedding stuff. they basically look like normal wedding dresses to me. i'm...honestly not sure why you would buy one (as opposed to a dress made by anyone else, i mean). in other words, it looks like this is not the place to go if you want an exact replica of snow white's dress to wear on your wedding day.

October 22, 2009 12:30 PM

The only time I can remember the gender thing really mattering was at camp in middle school once, there was a girl named Christian, and she'd been assigned to a boys' cabin, and so then our cabin was squashed and 2 people had to share a bunk when they realized the mistake and put her back to the girls' side. But that would be an easy mistake to avoid if there was an M/F line on the camp application!

And, completely off topic, my cousin-in-law just announced that she is expecting her 4th boy. The first 3 are J0nathan, James, and J0siah. Any guesses as to number 4's name? :)

(It is also a J name...)

By Anna (not verified)
October 22, 2009 12:45 PM

Jenny L3igh - the future tense is constructed with the verb in the present tense and an adverb indicating a future time: "I come tomorrow", "I eat soon" for I'll come tomorrow and I'll eat soon. You can also use an equivalent of the English shall/will construction (I'll...) or indicate intent (I intend to...). Perhaps you can imagine how hard it is to get the hang of all those different future tenses in other languages when you don't have a future yourself ;-)

October 22, 2009 1:01 PM

Anna--I love the author Henning Mankell, and I have a sudden new respect for whoever translated his books from Swedish into English! :)

October 22, 2009 1:14 PM

"Name authorities Leslie Dunkling (an Englishman, by the way) and William Gosling trace the Lesley "ey" spelling for girls to famed poet Robert Burns who wrote in the eighteenth century about a 'bonnie Lesley' in a poem."

Of course, Leslie Dunkling is the obvious authority to turn to on this one! Thanks, that makes a lot of sense -- even that the distinction is particularly strong in Australia with its strong strains of Scottish heritage.

October 22, 2009 1:26 PM

Ann with an E-Oh no not the Duggars reborn LOL! Anyway, I'll guess Justin, or Jayden?

By Guest (not verified)
October 22, 2009 1:49 PM

Anna, Guest at 81 here, no apologies necessary! In fact, I guessed Disney gowns would look like replica's of princess gowns as too -- I think Disney realizes how much money can be made in the wedding industry and is looking to capitalize.

October 22, 2009 1:53 PM

Anna and emily rae- Thanks! That makes sense and reminds me that I vaguely remember one of the French future tenses is basically "going to do..." which I always found the easiest to understand because it translated so well into English. And, Anna, maybe if you put all the things you want to do into the present tense it will impress people and help you get to them! Hehe, just kidding, I figured there HAD to be a way... much as some people say they live in the present I think it's sort of the nature of people to want to look ahead at least a little!

October 22, 2009 1:54 PM

"I find it hypocritical that people are fine with calling their girl a 'strong' (boys) name but won't consider a softer potentially girls name in case someone thinks that their son is weak. "

I think this is exactly the point! Girls gain some advantage in being mistaken for a boy (the "resume" logic). You might gain an interview or a vote as a Jordan that an Annabelle would not have had but a boy named Ashley who is perceived as a girl would lose status. Why is it that masculinity must be carefully protected from weakness, which is really "girlishness"?

By sarah smile (not verified)
October 22, 2009 1:56 PM

Anne with an E, I'm going to guess Jacob for the 4th boy. Biblical, starts with a J, not too close to any of the other three.

Anna, as others have said in the US it is highly discouraged to put your age or gender on your resume, and illegal for a potential employer to ask unless it directly impacts the job in some way. Some people even put only initials for their first and middle names, and avoid using graduation dates in the education section, to make it even less obvious. The idea is is to discourage discrimination, although how effective that is is an open question.

It is quite common, however, for there to be a gender box on applications for anything where it does matter - so the summer camp I used to work at did specifically ask for each camper's gender, to avoid the problem Anne described.

By AmyElizabeth (not verified)
October 22, 2009 3:29 PM

Anne with an E, I'll guess Joseph

October 22, 2009 3:35 PM

Anne with an E, I second the Jacob guess.

I also loved the image of the Haydens battling it out for name dominance!

I have to confess to feeling frustrated when gazing at an adorable baby and toddler and not being able to tell the sex of the child based on the name. I once asked a child his/her name (I wasn't sure of the child's sex and wanted a clue based on the name), to which the child responded, "Eliza." Phew! I knew she was a girl. Oops! The mother later told me the child's name was Elijah--he just had trouble pronouncing his name properly. So in this case, a typically male name didn't help clarify matters!

I do know a family in which the mother is named Scotty and the two daughters Elliott and Rowen (I've changed the spelling slightly in each name). My husband always thinks that all three of them are males when I refer to them.

By Amy3
October 22, 2009 3:58 PM

Interestingly, I just got the list of people involved in my daughter's school's parents' association (how's that for some possessives?!?), which lists the children associated with each parent. There is one parent whose daughters are Sydney and Morgan. A double-dose of androgyny!

In this case, I would assume Sydney was a girl (all the Sidneys I've known have been male and all the Sydneys, female), but with Morgan, I'd have no idea.

October 22, 2009 4:33 PM

Anna - I was expressing a personal preference, not a general concern.