"We wanted a boy" names

Someone pointed out in a baby-naming thread that giving multiple daughters feminized masculine names, like Josephine, Charlotte, and Philippa, can come across as "we really wanted sons" -- especially if the nicknames are Jo, Charlie, and Phil. Despite this observation, people keep suggesting such names as a little sister to Georgiana nicknamed Georgie, so I thought: why not collect 'em all in one thread?

So, the task: what classic feminized versions of male names can you think of? If they fit the category, they'll automatically have a boyish nickname, although there may be other, more girly diminutives as well (such as Fina, Lottie, Pippa, and Giana for the above set).


July 23, 2014 2:00 PM























July 23, 2014 2:51 PM

Jamie, Roberta, Thomasina, Kendra, Paula, Daniella, Stephanie, Eugenie, Fredericka, Geraldine, Alberta, Nicolette, Ernestine ... Heck, I even know a Keitha!

None of these names would cause me to think that of the parents, but three of them in the same family (or two of the more unpopular ones such as Alberta and Geraldine) would make me wonder.

My grandmother once told me about a family she knew like this. The family had four daughters who were all given very boyish nicknames (I think they were Joey, Charlie, Teddy, and Jackie). Finally the mom had a son. And she named him Herman, because he was "her man". 


By EVie
July 23, 2014 2:52 PM

Well for a start, all classical Latin names. Women in republican Rome didn't even get their own names--they were just feminized versions of their father's names. Julius/Julia, Claudius/Claudia, Flavius/Flavia, Valerius/Valeria, Aurelius/Aurelia, Cornelius/Cornelia, Aemilius/Aemilia, Caecilius/Caecilia, Livius/Livia, Marcius/Marcia, Antonius/Antonia, Laelius/Laelia. If there were two daughters in the family, they would be Julia Maior and Julia Minor (elder and younger), and if there were more, they would be Julia Prima, Julia Secunda, Julia Tertia, etc. This naming pattern was beginning to break down by the Augustan period, though, when women started to get their own names.

Even Latin names that weren't used in this pattern in the Republic usually have both masculine and feminine forms, simply because the way Latin is structured grammatically easily allows for it. Claire/Clara come from Clarus, Lucy from Lucius, Felicity from Felix, Constance from Constant, Victoria from Victor, Laura from Laurus, Sylvia from Sylvius, Vivian/Viviana from Vivianus, Augusta from Augustus, Camilla from Camillus, Mariana from Marianus, Priscilla from Priscus, Virginia from Virginius, Tatiana from Tatius, Regina from Rex. Pretty much every Latin feminine name I can think of has a masculine pairing. But on the other hand, most masculine names have a feminine pairing, too, so maybe these don't count since they exist as a pair and not just a male name with a feminine ending tacked on? Even with basic Latin vocabulary, all adjectives are listed in masculine, feminine and neuter forms--a dictionary entry will list: mirus, mira, mirum, or abbreviated, mirus, -a, -um. 

In French it's very common to feminize masculine names, sometimes by simply adding an e to the end, or more commonly by duplicating the last letter and adding an e. I have a great-great-something grandmother named Marie-Josèphe. Claude is an androgynous name, as is Dominique. Noelle, Christiane, Gabrielle, Danielle, Michelle, Adrienne, Renée, Françoise, Georgette, Jeanne, Louise, Pascale, Desirée, Emmanuelle. There are also all the diminutive forms like Caroline, Bernadette, Albertine, Antoinette, Clementine, Nicolette, Geraldine, Jeannette, Pauline, Francine. And then there are the -ie forms--Stephanie, Aurélie, Léonie.

Italian is similar, except replace the e with an a. Giovanna, Giuseppina, Benedetta, Carolina, Cosima, Donatella, Federica, Fabrizia, Francesca, Giacinta, Giuliana, Ilaria, Isidora, Leontina, Lorenza, Paola, Raffaella, Simona.

Really, there are so, so many that it almost seems easier to list names that *aren't* feminized male names. A few good places to start in looking for those would be names of female figures from Greek and Roman mythology, which tend to be original (though some of the epithets are not--Phoebe is a feminized Phoebus, for example); female figures from the Old Testament; and Germanic and Old English names, which get their gender from the second element and not just changing an ending (Hildeburh and Æthelthryth are feminine, Hildebrand and Æthelfrith masculine, and they have different meanings).

October 18, 2015 9:45 AM

Harriet "Harry"

Wilhelmina "Will"

Thomasina "Tom"

Nicola "Nick"

Olivia "Olly"

Jacqueline "Jack"

Christine "Chris"

Rachel "Ray"

Alice "Al"

October 21, 2015 6:41 PM

I have a friend who is Alexandra, goes by Ally, but her parents have always called her Al. Her sister Abigail (Abby) is "Ab". 

December 30, 2015 12:57 AM

My grandma's parents were hoping for a boy named Marshall, but she was a girl, so her name is Marsha!

April 3, 2016 4:09 AM

Roberta "Bobbie"

Frederica "Freddie"

Ernestine "Ernie"

Harriet "Harry"

Henrietta "Henry"

Martina "Mart"

Georgina "George"

Josephine "Jo"

Louella "Louie"

Danielle "Dan"

Samantha "Sam"

Wilhelmina "Bill"

Maxina "Max"

Vincenza "Vince"

Philippa "Phil"

Alexandra "Alex"

Kaylee "Kale"

Brenda "Brendy"

Brettlyn "Brett"

Augustina "Gus"

Jamesina "Jimmy"

Charlotte "Charlie"

Donatella "Donnie"

Alberta "Bertie"

Joanna "Johnnie"

Patricia "Paddy"

I can think of heaps, heaps more, but I'd better not make it too long! :D