Feminizations are Full of 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?
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.
These are the most popular girl names in the latest US charts that we’d call feminizations. (Ranks 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.
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:
Or you could choose a girl name with a similar sound, even though they have different origins. For example:
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?
- 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
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on July 17th, 2020 at 8:11 am
Louise or Louisa are favourites of mine.
on July 17th, 2020 at 3:41 pm
I was intrigued to notice the innovative trend of changing the spelling to feminise a name, too!
Éliette (one L) is a traditional French feminisation of Élie, the French form of Elias. I’ve often thought it would be a good choice for parents who like Elliott for a girl but would like something more feminine and with more history.
Clare Green Said
on July 17th, 2020 at 3:57 pm
@Kew, I didn’t know Éliette had that French history – I like it even more now!
on July 18th, 2020 at 1:41 am
Amazing article. I love feminization of names. I chose my girls some names like this and it’s adorable
on July 18th, 2020 at 10:45 am
Really interesting article. One of my friends is named Jaclyn Christina after her grandfather Jack Christopher. I always thought that was a great way to honour her family member.
I’d be interested to read about traditionally feminine names on boys. We tend to celebrate newborn girls with gender neutral names like Charlie, Frankie, London and Rory but we feel uncomfortable with boys who have names like Laurie, Shannon, Ashley, Eden and Meredith (even though many of these names were first introduced as masculine names). More and more, I’m seeing girls with traditionally masculine names like James, Lincoln, Ryan but there are very few boys named Emma, Charlotte or Lucille.
I’m definitely guilty of this myself and I’d love for someone to analyze these kind of names in our society.
on July 19th, 2020 at 1:51 pm
This is a great article! I would love to see the reverse of this and ways to honour women with names for boys. We gave one of our twin boys the middle name Ellison after his grandma Allison and my middle name Alyse.
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