That Used to Be a Boy's Name?!

Names mostly thought of today as girl's names that actually originated as male names.
  1. Addison
    • Origin:

      English
    • Meaning:

      "son of Adam"
    • Description:

      Despite its origin as a patronymic meaning "son of Adam", Addison really caught on for baby girls in the US around the turn of the millennium, following in Madison's footsteps to peak at #11 in 2007 and again in 2010.
  2. Alexis
    • Origin:

      Greek
    • Meaning:

      "defender"
    • Description:

      This name leapt into the female column via vixen Alexis Carrington on 'Dynasty" in the 1980s. It's more popular for girls, but it's still a widely used boys' names and is one of the most popular unisex names in the US today.
  3. Ariel
    • Origin:

      Hebrew
    • Meaning:

      "lion of God"
    • Description:

      Despite its distinguished pedigree and popularity in Israel, Disney's Little Mermaid cartoonized Ariel in the US, at least in some people's minds. But it was used for a male character in Shakespeare's The Tempest centuries ago.
  4. Ashley
    • Origin:

      English
    • Meaning:

      "dweller near the ash tree meadow"
    • Description:

      It may have peaked at #1 for girls in 1991 and 1992 in the US, but Ashley actually has a long history as a male given name, as evidenced by the sensitive Ashley Wilkes in Gone With the Wind. It's always been more popular for boys in England and Wales, where it currently ranks at #414.
  5. Bailey
    • Origin:

      English occupational name
    • Meaning:

      "law enforcer, bailiff"
    • Description:

      Extremely amiable, open-sounding surname that's gradually being taken over by the girls.
  6. Brooklyn
    • Origin:

      Place-name from Dutch
    • Meaning:

      "marshland"
    • Description:

      It may be the hippest of hispter neighborhoods, but as a baby name Brooklyn is now on the decline: down from a peak of 120 births for boys in 1999, and over 7000 births for girls in 2011.
  7. Beverly
    • Carmen
      • Origin:

        Spanish variation of Carmel; from Latin Carmen meaning song.
      • Description:

        While the variation Carmine is more familiar for boys, Carmen has also been used as a masculine name; consider the very macho Carmen Basilio — the American boxer famous for defeating the great Sugar Ray Robinson — or composer Carmen Dragon.
    • Courtney
      • Origin:

        French
      • Meaning:

        "courteous, from the court"
      • Description:

        This courtly old Southern name has several cool male bearers: NFL player Courtney Brown, British jazz musician Courtney Pine, and Barbados-born economist Courtney Blackman, to name but a few.
    • Dana
      • Origin:

        English, Slavic, Persian Arabic
      • Meaning:

        "from Denmark, gift, or wise"
      • Description:

        Baby girl Danas outnumber baby boys with the name nearly ten to one. But Dana is an attractive, sleek name that can certain work for babies of either gender.
    • Evelyn
      • Origin:

        English
      • Meaning:

        "desired; or water, island"
      • Description:

        Renowned English author Evelyn Waugh pronounced his name "EEV-lin" (fun fact: his first wife, also named Evelyn, was referred to as "She-velyn"). But "EV-uh-lin" also works, and is probably the most familiar pronunciation of the name today.
    • Hilary
      • Origin:

        Latin from Greek
      • Meaning:

        "cheerful, happy"
      • Description:

        The only version that works for boys anymore is the Latinate Hilario or Ilario. Better to look to Felix for a happy-meaning name.
    • Joyce
      • Description:

        Yes, the poet Joyce Kilmer ("Trees") was a man, the very last male named Joyce. And even for women, it's been in limbo for several generations.
    • Jocelyn
      • Kelly
        • Origin:

          Irish
        • Meaning:

          "war"
        • Description:

          A predominantly male name in the US until the late 1950s, the name continued to rise for both sexes for both sexes for a further decade, before starting to decline for boys. Despite dropping out of the boys' Top 1000 in 2002, Kelly retains a rugged Irish charm.
      • Kelsey
        • Origin:

          English surname
        • Meaning:

          "Cenel's island"
        • Description:

          Kelsey (ex-Frasier) Grammer is a famous male bearer, although most modern Kelseys are female. It derives from several English place names, possibly meaning "Cenel's island", from the Old English name Cenel "fierce".
      • Leslie
        • Origin:

          Scottish
        • Meaning:

          "garden of holly"
        • Description:

          This Scottish place name and surname was more popular for boys in the US until the mid-1940s; in the UK, the Leslie spelling is predominantly masculine, with Lesley widely used as the feminine variant. Now ranking in the mid-400s for girls and not at all for boys in the US, it could be time to bring this smart, subtle nature name back, especially considering the current popularity of -ley names for both sexes.
      • Lindsay
        • Origin:

          English
        • Meaning:

          "island of linden trees"
        • Description:

          Lindsay is one of the few truly unisex names (rather than being a name that has changed genders). Over time the ey ending was usually reserved for women and the ay ending reserved for men, although both spellings are overwhelmingly female these days.
      • Lindsey
        • Lynn
          • Origin:

            Welsh
          • Meaning:

            "lake"
          • Description:

            Long gone to the girls.