Tiger Woods Baby Name Charlie, a Sibling for Sam. But Which Is The Boy and Which Is The Girl?
Charlie and Sam are typical of an emerging pattern linking two current trends: nicknames and ambigender names. Sam followed on the avalanche of Samanthas, often called Sam, which resulted in some parents cutting straight to the short form–Denise Richards, for one, used it for her daughter in 2004. And Charlie, Tiger and Elin Woods’ new nickname-name choice, (and it’s really not hard to see why someone who was christened Eldrick and gained fame as Tiger might be partial to nicknames) is another that’s being used increasingly for both sexes. Just recently, Rebecca Romijn and Jerry O’Connell chose it for one of their twin girls (the other being the much less ambi Dolly). Charlie is already in the Top 800 on the girls’ list for 2007, and I’m expecting to see it even higher when the new list comes out in May.
This is actually Phase 3 of tomboyish short-form girls’ names. In the early decades of the 20th century, it wasn’t unusual to find girls named Billie and Bobbie, and then in the 1960s and 70s there were lots of Rickys and Randys. Modern starbabies with such names include Carrie Fisher’s Billie and Melissa Etheridge’s daughter Johnnie. Most of these girls are given distinctively feminine middle names, like Rose, Grace and Tamara Tulip–probably a pretty wise idea.
Here are some other traditionally male nicknames that could conceivably cross over into the unisex zone. Of course some of them have been used for girls before. Think of Kate & Allie, Charlie on Ugly Betty, Spice Girl Mel B, Joey on Dawson‘s Creek. (In the show Sisters, all the women had boy-nickname names: Teddy, Frankie, Georgie, Alex, and Charley.) The difference is that in almost all these cases there was a more formal (and feminine) name on the birth certificate, be it Charlotte or Allison or Melissa. The question is, could and would the names on this list ever stand alone as girls’ given names?
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on February 11th, 2009 at 2:22 am
I actually have a relative named Ally, which pains me to no end. That’s her name. Ally. Just Ally. Yeesh! When they told me her name, I somehow managed a smile with a kind comment. I do like Ally as a nickname (Allie, not Ally), but as a first name? Uh, nope!
I think Sam Sheen is named after Charlie’s cat, and to make matters worse, her middle initial is the extremely feminine letter “J.” No name. Just the letter “J.” So, poor Sam has one sister, Lola Rose, whose name is obviously female and feminine. Can you imagine being Sam J. when your sister’s name is Lola Rose? Poor thing…
Anyway, Max is already used as a name, as is Theo. I don’t mind Max in and of itself, but Theo used as a first name is just too nicknamey for me.
Some other nicknames that are also used as first names include:
My name, Jill, is a dimutive of Julia and Gillian, but that doesn’t bother me. (My name does bother me, but not because it’s a nickname!) 🙂
on February 11th, 2009 at 9:59 am
I dislike Boyish nicknameson girls, even when they’re an option. My daughter Josephine has a friend named Samantha and neither of them are Jo/Sam. In my family, the Jo-sound is for boys. And Samantha, well she’s too frilly sweet at 3 to be a Sam. I’ve already told her parents, “I can’t call her Sam, she’s not a Sam” off Jill’s list up there, Lev & Cleo are the only standalones to me. And on your list, Clem? When did Clem & go anything girly? Gods that’s an ugly sound! I know a girl who goes by Mo, it’s short for Maureen and he mom calls her Mo; she hates it!
And for the recored, The Sheen girls? I feel sorry for them too. It’s like they have clear and differing expectations for them both and that saddens me a bit.
Punk Princess PhD Said
on February 11th, 2009 at 12:03 pm
I think an ambiguous/ambi-gendrous name can be empowering – and not just for girls. With So many parents out there freaking out if their “Boy” choice suddenly migrates into the “girl” camp (sigh…playground mentality), it’s refreshing to see that the trend can work both ways. I do think it can be confusing it mixed pairs, just because it doesn’t present a consistent gender-image.
I’ve got to say, may faves have long been sisters Reggie (Regina) and George (Georgia) from “Dead Like Me”
on February 11th, 2009 at 12:29 pm
I have a great aunt, who’s probably 86 or 87 years old, named Matilda. She has always been called Mat.
on February 11th, 2009 at 12:46 pm
Um, yeah. I just realized I listed a bunch of gender-specific names in response to an article pertaining to ambigender names. (Memo to self: Don’t reply to blogs when you’re half asleep.) 🙂 Sorry about that!
I was on track at one point in my reply when I referenced Sam Sheen and her sister, Lola, but then my remaining brain cell decided to check out.
Anyway, I’m not a fan of ambigender names, be they nicknames or whole names, but if they are to be used, I prefer the names of all the siblings to fall under the theme. In other words, if you’re going to name a little girl Sam, don’t name her sister Lola. (Larry would be more appropriate.)
on February 11th, 2009 at 1:49 pm
I dislike both gender ambiguous names and nicknamey names. Gender ambiguity is a matter of taste and even though I tend to not like them, I still think a lot of them are perfectly acceptable names. Nicknames however, I absolutely can’t stand. I understand that some of them are very cute, and some people prefer simple names. However, I absolutely can’t understand how parents would deny their child the possibility of a full name. You can still use the nickname 100% of the time, but when the child becomes an adult he or she will have the possibility to keep going by the nickname or go to the more grown up option. Sam J. makes me cringe. So do Charlie and Dolly.
on February 11th, 2009 at 2:34 pm
Don’t do it people!! I have hated my name since the first time in kindergarten that I realized it was a “boy’s” name. I was teased endlessly in grade school and have had confusion in my professional life when people were expecting “Tony” and got “Toni” (and yes, for the 50000th time, it IS my real name). It’s not cute, it’s not stylish, and it’s certainly not an asset to your daughter. Give girls girls’ names and leave the boys’ names to the boys!
on February 11th, 2009 at 6:09 pm
I remember there was a family at my church growing up and their parents’ names were Pat and Chris. I didn’t know which one was the dad and which one was the mom!
well obviously, I could tell when I saw them, but I never knew who was named what!
on February 11th, 2009 at 7:19 pm
I met an older woman named Tommie today. I asked her what her real name was and she said Thomasine. I said, “That’s cool,” and she made a face and said “I hate hate hate it.”
on February 11th, 2009 at 8:17 pm
Jerry O’Connell’s daughter was named after her Uncle Charlie, according to the dad when he guest hosted on Regis and Kelly. Apparently either O’Connell or his wife has a brother they’re very fond of named Charles or Charlie. Dolly is after Dolly Parton, he said.
on February 11th, 2009 at 11:59 pm
I know an older Tommie too (but that’s her full name) I looked it up and there it was in the top 1000 back in the 40’s.
I think it takes a girly girl to pull off a boy’s name.
on February 12th, 2009 at 8:19 pm
If there’s one think I hate, it’s nickname-names.
Sam is short for Samantha, it’s not a name.
Charlie is short for Charles or Charlotte, it’s not a name.
Allie is short for Allison, it’s not a name.
Joey is a nickname for Joseph, it’s not a name.
I think one of the worst culprits of nickname-names:
I think that some parents think: “Oh, I’m having a BABY, let’s give him/her a really cute name!”
They don’t think that one day that baby will be a child, then a teenager, then an adult. I can’t imagine a CEO or doctor being taken seriously with the name Gracie or Ollie.
Poor, poor kids
on February 13th, 2009 at 6:34 am
I know a girl named Allie – just Allie – on her birth certificate. I don’t know her mother well enough to ask why. (We met when we were both calling the same name at the playground. Only my Aly is a boy!)
Thomasine – what a cool name! I came across an older woman called Henry the other day. Same thing – she’s a Henrietta who *hates* her name.
I far prefer Charlotte/Charles to Charlie, etc. But my ideas about nicknames have changed over time. To me, Jack is short for John. But more than 10,000 parents put Jack on their sons’ birth certificates in 2007 – just in the US – so I’m rethinking. And I can see the appeal of using just Kate, too – even though a few years back it seemed too short.
Toni, my sister has a similar name (Teri) and feels the same way! She often has to insist that it REALLY isn’t short for anything. 🙂
on August 26th, 2010 at 12:02 pm
I know two young girls that have boyish-nickname names. One is Toni Skylar and the other is Andi Alexis. The strangest part for me is the sibsets they belong to:
Toni, Matthew, and Brody (b)
Andi Alexis and Madeleine Michael
On paper, Toni seems like a boy, and Andi and Madeleine are opposite ends of the girls name spectrum.
My friend’s boss is named Randi (g), but she was part of the 70s wave of Rickis and Randys.
on August 26th, 2010 at 12:10 pm
I dislike nickname names for girls, especially the androgynous ones like Matty, Georgie, etc. mostly because they feel very dated to me, though general I don’t have a problem with nickname-like names. I love Harry, Milo, Kate, Jolie, Heath, etc. I don’t think all people need so-called “formal” names on the birth certificate, and it drives me mad when Berries find a short name they love but they absolutely need to find a longer name that allows them to call the child by the beloved name as a nickname. Why not name your son Jack? If you don’t love John, why would you be willing to write it on all of his formal documentations just so you can call him Jack at home?
On the flip side, I have to agree with pp on the Sheen girls — Sam J and Lola Rose… is one supposed to be a tomboy and the other a stripper? Really don’t understand that one.
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