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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    New Zealand

    Why are unisex name meanings different for boys & girls?

    I've noticed that the name meanings given for unisex names often seem to differ between the boy and girl version.

    A couple of examples:

    Sage - girl - "wise, healthy", boy - "wise and knowing"
    Quinn - girl - "descendant of Conn", boy "descendant of Conn, chief leader, intelligence."

    Is there really a difference in name origin between identical names, because I'm confused as to why a boy Quinn would mean things like "chief leader" and "intelligence" whereas a girl Quinn wouldn't.
    Two small people, Mila Arden and Cato Bennett.

    If I had a baby tomorrow...
    Atlas Adair or Lyra Sylvie

  2. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    At least they don't try and twist the meanings of names like Rory and Ryan (which have "king" in their meanings) to make them more gender-neutral like I've seen some sites do.

  3. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Keep in mind that 90% of baby name books and websites (Nameberry is guilty of this, sadly) embelish or simply make up meanings of names in order to make them more appealing to expecting parents. Obvicously the meaning of a name doesn't change with gender, unless we are talking about names from different origins that happen to sound and be spelt the same (like "Noah", which is the English form of 2 different Hebrew names, one masculine and the other feminine).

    If the "real" meanings of names are important to you, I suggest using books and websites that focus on etymology.
    Arabella, Thibault, Sophia, Alfred, Eleanor, Rémi, Charlotte, Achille, Olivia, Clement, Elizabeth, Frederick, Maud, Benedict, Adèle.

  4. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Let's use Asa for an example.

    In Hebrew, Asa is a male name meaning doctor.
    In Japanese, Asa is a female name meaning morning. (It's pronounced ah-suh, though.)

    In this case, they do have separate meanings and origins for the same English spelling. However, Nameberry doesn't note this on the entry, nor several others.

    Whenever I really want to know the meaning of a name, I go to Behind the Name. Many sites and books DO embellish meanings or change them to become more gender neutral. Books and sites like BTN focus more on the actual etymology. I did check it on Quinn, and there was no mention of it having to do with anything other than being 'descendant of Conn'. Conn, however, means 'chief', so technically the name could be taken to mean 'descendant of a chief'. So, it's fairly obvious that Pam and Linda embellished the meaning.

    But Nameberry isn't a site for etymology as it is helping the parents find the perfect name. I do encourage parents to thoroughly investigate the name they choose. And if the meaning is important to them, consult a site like BTN OR a linguist of the language that name derives from, if possible.

    (On a similar note, I gave my friends' a character name book a few months ago without flipping through it. Today, they tried to convince me that Vivian meant merry or happy. I think I need to find them a different book.)
    ~lucy reine~
    ~ celestine eira ~ mary simona ~ elizabeth echo "ellie" ~ eleanor maeve "lena" ~ vivienne isla ~ celia matilda "cici" ~ catherine aiko "rin" ~ elsa verity ~
    ~ jasper red ~ evander lachlan 'evan'~ kai nicholas ~ ezra link ~ avery thomas ~ michael satoshi "mischa" ~ finn jeremias ~ ezekiel hayden ~ alexander rowan "sacha" ~
    guilty pleasures
    ~ tisiphone aria ~ alecto elpis ~ miya lucida ~ addison matteo ~ corinthian tidus ~

  5. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    You're right, in general the male and female versions absolutely should have the same derivations and meanings. Some errors probably slipped through when we were originally constructing the data base, and the boy and girl sections were researched separately and somehow there were some that were not coordinated--something we are trying to gradually catch and correct.
    And for the record, we NEVER change a meaning to make it more appealing! You'll find plenty of negative meanings including.

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