Any feminine names that became masculine?

The English language is full of names that started out masculine and became feminine or unisex.


Are there any examples of the opposite, feminine or unisex names that are now chiefly masculine? Maybe there are some obvious examples that I’m missing, but none come to mind.

IIRC, wasn’t Douglas originally a woman’s name in the Middle Ages? And some names, like Alexis (pronounced alex-cee or say) are still masculine in foreign countries.

My niece has 2 daughters, Austin and Gunnar.


Guys - I think the OP is asking for names that are masculine NOW, that were feminine BEFORE, not the other way around.

Yeah, that seems to be exactly what the OP is asking. I’ve been wracking my brains and I can’t think of any, although I do recall the (not exactly helpful) point from Freakonomics that while masculine names frequently cross over to feminine names, the opposite is rare. They didn’t give any examples, unfortunately.

Probably pushing it a bit, but how about Artemis?

Exactly. Implicit in the OP is that these names are common in English, as many names in languages like French retain the masculine.

Artemis is a good example, although most of the examples I can think of are fictional characters.

When Beckham and Posh named their son Cruz, some English college professor claimed that it was a girl’s name.
Cruz Bustamante, Cruz Reynoso, and Cruz Martinez beg to differ.

Bless Google. Found the mistaken pedant:

This is a bit of a cheat answer, but …

Jaime is a common boys name in Spanish, equivalent to James. And in the US, it looks like Jaime is now more popular as a boys name than as a girls name: link, data is from SSA. The boys name was #321 in 2008, the girls name has fallen out of the top 1000.

douglas is the only one i can think of. when it solely for girls it was spelled douglass.


When was Douglas(s) primarily feminine? If the etymology I have seen is correct ( from the Gaelic for “dark/black river” ), the earliest association I know of is the surname of the famous Scottish borderer family. Do I have that wrong and it predates that substantially as a given name?

Elizabethan era. Lady Dougless Sheffield was one of the lovers of Robert Dudley, the rumored lover of Queen Elizabeth.

You are nearly correct about the etymology: Old Irish dub “black, dark” + glas “blue, blue thing,” i.e. dark water. It started as a desciptive place name, then became a surname, and only then a given name. Interestingly, although a lot of Old Irish given names begin with dub-, Douglas is not among them.

Cameron (“crooked nose,” Gaelic cam + lenited sron*) was also an epithet before it became a bizarre given name. I’ve never understood the prediliction for naming girls after deformed faces.

*the “e” is originally an epenthetic vowel, if anyone cares.

Did my name start out as a boy’s name, or a girl’s name, or has it always been unisex but mostly used for girls? (Shannon) I’ve met two boys with the name, but their parents named them after the same damn song that inspired mine.

A quick look indicates that is has always been more popular in the US for girls than for boys.

The word started life as a place-name, Old Irish Sinand or Sinond (pronounced roughly shin-ahn or shin-onn, respectively). Like most river-names, it’s a feminine noun, but it was never a given name among Gaelic-speakers, so I don’t know which came first. My name books say it’s American in origin (as a given name, that is), but they’re silent as to the original gender.

Not common, and kind of rare and 19th century sounding, but in Spanish, sometimes males had a female middle name (likewise females having a male middle name).

Eugenio María de Hostos being the first name that comes to my mind.

I thought that “Diego” was the Spanish equivalent to James?

Cameron is still appropriate for a male, IMO. Despite Cameron Diaz, the name still sounds masculine to me.