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Feminizations are Full of Girl Power

July 17, 2020 Clare Green
feminizations

Feminizations are girl names that build on traditionally male names, or have a male equivalent. They’re a varied group with lots of interesting options that are full of feminine spirit.

Some feminized names are pretty straightforward. Add an ending, and Henry becomes Henrietta, Jalil becomes Jalila, Michael becomes Michaela. But what about Makayla, or just Kayla? Do they count, when parents run with the sound they like and leave the original boy name behind?

What about boy/girl pairs that probably arose alongside each other, like Julius and Julia, or ones where you might not even know there’s a link, like John and Jane?

What about Londyn? The Y spelling marks it out as feminine, but the original London is more popular for girls anyway. Can you feminize a name that’s already unisex, leaning female?

How picky do we get about etymology? If you look in a Latin dictionary, Victor means “winner” and Victoria means “victory”: they’re different words. A pedant might say the feminine form of Victor is Victrix, or at least something like Victorine. But does that mean you shouldn’t name your daughter Victoria in honor of Grandpa Victor? Does it heck.

In practical naming terms, intention plays a part in deciding what counts as a feminization. If you choose the name Raelynn to honor a special Ray, by all means it’s a feminization. If you just love the sound of the name, you might not see it as one.

Let’s look at today’s most popular feminized names and the different ways to make them, beyond adding -ina.

Popular feminizations

These are the most popular girl names in the latest US charts that we’d call feminizations. (Ranks are in brackets.)

Charlotte (6)
Caroline (55)
Gianna (80)
Valentina (81)
Alexa (90)
Josephine (91)
Julia (93)
Raelynn (115)
Alexandra (125)
Andrea (134)
Cecilia (155)
Jordyn (166)
Daniela (195)
Alana (200)
Joanna (212)
Nicole (218)
Georgia (223)
Noelle (228)
Adriana (240)
Michelle (263)
Alexandria (282)
Jane (291)

6 ways to a fab feminization

1. Add an ending

Perhaps the most obvious way to turn a male name female. A lot of the endings are based on Romance languages like Latin, French and Spanish, but there are some more modern endings that do the same job.

Acelynn
Alexia
Bernadette
Cecily
Davina
Georgiana
Harriet
Jamesetta (Etta James’s birth name)
Leonie
Markella
Normani (the singer was named after her uncle Norman)
Pauline
Simone
Thomasin
Willa

2. Change the spelling

Want to use a more male or unisex name, but make it clear that it belongs to a girl? Tweaking the spelling is a popular way to show this. A few examples:

Baylee
Blaire
Elliette
Emersyn
Indie
Myka
Rae
Reese
Ryleigh
Toni

3. Use a diminutive

Are names like Wilhelmina and Jacqueline too long and clunky for you? Using a short form of the original is a great way to get a girl name that’s casual, friendly, and more gender neutral. For example:

Ali
Charlie
Frankie
Georgie
Gray
Jamie
Joey
Jules
Kay
Mal
Stevie

4. Go global

Different languages have their own ways of feminizing names. So if you’re feeling uninspired by Jane and Joanna as female forms of John, how about Jana, Gianna or Sinead instead? Here are a few more ideas.

Alastriona
Carlotta
Enrica
Franziska
Giordana
Jacoba
Josette
Noa
Ottilie
Paola
Perrine
Sian
Silke
Tomine

5. Try a soundalike

If the sound and personal meaning of a feminization are more important to you than 100% linguistic accuracy, the opportunities are wide.

You could use a girl name that shares a same root with the male name, even if they’re not an exact his/hers match:

ChristopherChristina
EdwardEdith
EverettEverly
NoamNaima
OliverOlivia

Or you could choose a girl name with a similar sound, even though they have different origins. For example:

AlexAlix
BrianBryony
CassiusCassandra
GraysonGrace
JasperJasmine
KaiKylie
KaydenCadence
LukeLucille
MilesMaya
ReubenRuby
RomanRomy

6. Get creative

What if you can’t find a feminized name you like, or the name you want to honor doesn’t have an established feminine version? As long as it’s legal where you live, you’re free to invent your own. Some interesting ones I’ve heard recently are Davya (named after her dad, Dave), Floy (used in the American South as a female form of Floyd), and Benjamenne (in this post on Nancy’s Baby Names — and there are even more creative ideas in the comments). The only limit is your imagination…and people’s ability to spell and pronounce it.

Feminization in action

To finish up, here some ways to feminize the current Nameberry Top 10 names for boys, including traditional and more creative options. Have we missed any good ones?

  1. Milo: Mila, Myla, Milena, Milani, Miley, Millie
  2. Asher: Asha, Ashlynn, Ashanti
  3. Oliver: Olivia, Olive, Ollie, Liv, Olia, Olivine, Olivette
  4. Silas: Sylvie, Silvia, Sylvestra
  5. Levi: Levina, Levianne, Leigh, Livvy
  6. Theodore: Theodora, Thea, Dora, Theodosia, Dorothy, Dorothea
  7. Jasper: Jasmine, Jaslyn, Jasiyah, Jazz
  8. Atticus: Attica, Attie, Addy 
  9. Arlo: Arla, Aria, Arlette, Harlow
  10. Leo: Leonie, Leona, Leonora, Leah

About the author

Clare Green

Clare Green writes Nameberry's weekly round-up of the latest baby name news, including celebrity announcements, unusual naming stories, and new statistics from around the world . Clare, who has been writing for Nameberry since 2015, lives in England, where she has worked in libraries and studies linguistics. You can follow her personally on Instagram and Twitter.

View all of Clare Green's articles

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