Feminizations Bring the Girl Power
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? Like 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.
Olivia, the reigning Number 1 girls' name in the US and a top name for girls in several other countries around the world, could be considered a feminization of Oliver. And many other feminized names are rising up the charts. These are the most popular girl names in the latest US statistics that we’d call feminizations. (Ranks in 2020 are in brackets.)
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.
Jamesetta (Etta James’s birth name)
Normani (the singer was named after her uncle Norman)
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:
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:
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.
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:
Christopher → Christina
Edward → Edith
Everett → Everly
Noam → Naima
Oliver → Olivia
Or you could choose a girl name with a similar sound, even though they have different origins. For example:
Alex → Alix
Brian → Bryony
Cassius → Cassandra
Grayson → Grace
Jasper → Jasmine
Kai → Kylie
Kayden → Cadence
Luke → Lucille
Miles → Mila
Reuben → Ruby
Roman → Romy
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.
Increasingly, getting creative means using the male name straight out. James has become one of the most fashionable middle names for girls. There are celebrities named Glenn, Drew, and Geffri. Two of the most successful American female authors are Curtis Sittenfeld and Lionel Shriver.
Feminization in action
To finish up, here some ways to feminize some of the current top names for boys, including traditional and more creative options. Have we missed any good ones?
Milo: Mila, Myla, Milena, Milani, Miley, Millie
Asher: Asha, Ashlynn, Ashanti
Oliver: Olivia, Olive, Ollie, Liv, Olia, Olivine, Olivette
Silas: Sylvie, Silvia, Sylvestra
Levi: Levina, Levianne, Leigh, Livvy
Theodore: Theodora, Thea, Dora, Theodosia, Dorothy, Dorothea
Jasper: Jasmine, Jaslyn, Jasiyah, Jazz
Atticus: Attica, Attie, Addy
Arlo: Arla, Aria, Arlette, Harlow
Leo: Leonie, Leona, Leonora, Leah