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Feminism: chat

Naming girls

80 replies

NameHelpNeeded123 · 17/01/2022 14:06

Right, I am trying to name impending baby girl and have absolutely lost it. I’ve lost all sense and overthinking absolutely everything.

Got me thinking, naming girls feminised boys names - misogynistic? Patriarchal? Also trend for full on boys names on girls eg James. Taking us backwards right? Clothes, name etc do not make a woman. However I’m really put off by names such as Felicity and other super frilly names as 1) they wouldn’t suit me so unlikely to suit my child and 2) bit too princessy - which completely goes against my point that the name does not make the woman. Just suggested Billie to DH and thought, is it too boyish. Front runner is Gabriella but that’s just a feminised Gabriel (also a bit princessy)??

Sorry for rushed post, am just posting train of thought and this is the state of my mind right now 😄

OP posts:

RadicalFern · 17/01/2022 14:42

I mean, lots of names have masculine and feminine forms because they've come into the language from languages with gender (eg. Vittorio/Vittoria, Francesco/Francesca). In English it looks like all the boy names were invented first and "a" stuck on the end to make girl names, but that's not necessarily the case. Often the girl's name isn't just a feminised boy's name, rather, they are names with a common root and different endings depending on the sex of the child. An example of this would be John/Johan/Joan/Joanne: the male and female names have the same Hebrew root, and in saying "Joan is the feminine version of John" that's not indicating that it is derived from John.

In (the original) Hebrew, Gavriel is a unisex name. It's just convention (from French) that we spell it differently for boys and for girls. So yeah, call your little one whatever you like, it'll be ok! You could always make it Gabrielle if you think Gabriella is too frilly.


TeiTetua · 17/01/2022 16:45

Alice. Anne. Barbara. Susan.

Let her be the only one in her class with a plain old ordinary name. It'll make her distinctive all her life.


UltraVividLament · 17/01/2022 21:39

There's a phenomenon where a name starts to be used for girls as well as boys, and then eventually shifts to being a mainly girls name. Eg Hillary, Shirley, Lesley, Lindsay, Kim. People do seem to find it acceptable for a girl to be called a typically boys name, whilst thinking it almost unimaginable to call a boy a typically girls name.

You might find looking at girls names that don't end in a vowel sound helpful. The girls my two children's classes are nearly all called variations on things like Isla, Eva, Ava, Kyra, Ceira, Ellie, Alana, something-May/Mae etc Just a barrage of As and Es, and I struggle to remember who's who!


JazzyBBG · 17/01/2022 23:18

Jamie /Jodie / Sydney - in same realm as Billie?

Or opposite end of the scale go very classic but underused.


BloomingTrees · 17/01/2022 23:45

It sounds like you need a strong sounding uniquely girls name.
Something along the lines of Agnes, Beatrix, Elizabeth, Edith, Inez, Naomi...


Enough4me · 17/01/2022 23:51

You could go with a name that enables your DD to adapt it as an adult, e.g. Charlotte can also be Charlie, Char, Lottie and Lotta.


ErrolTheDragon · 17/01/2022 23:57

An example of this would be John/Johan/Joan/Joanne: the male and female names have the same Hebrew root

And Jean, which is a typically male name in France but a female one in the U.K., albeit with a different pronunciation.

Some of the classic Greek derived names have always been used for women, some are strong and 'unfrilly'. Perhaps one of those might suit?


Onlinedilema · 17/01/2022 23:57

I think Gabriella is a very strong sounding nane. I don't like Billie, there again I don't like Billy either!


MrsBertBibby · 18/01/2022 04:07

It's a dilemma. Do we reject the feminine out of internalised misogyny, or because we reject the prison of gender?

I would go for a name that is muscular and unequivocally female. Anna. Honor. Edith. Astrid. Nina. Tamsin. Justine. Rosa. Maude.


Enough4me · 18/01/2022 07:48

You can go around in circles. Create a list of names you like and go back to it over time, see which ones feel the best.


StCharlotte · 18/01/2022 07:51


It sounds like you need a strong sounding uniquely girls name.
Something along the lines of Agnes, Beatrix, Elizabeth, Edith, Inez, Naomi...

I give you Bridget.

Musmerian · 18/01/2022 07:54

How about a classical name? I taught a girl called Io , which I love. She was a nymph. Pronounced eye- o. Athena, Atalanta, Hera, there are lots.


ErrolTheDragon · 18/01/2022 08:38

I noticed there's a current thread on classical names, you might like to have a browse.

Ancient Greek/Mythology Names


MrsBertBibby · 18/01/2022 09:35

Io was spotted by Zeus who turned himself into a cloud to shag her, then when Hera noticed, she turned her into a cow, and chased her all over Europe with a gadfly.


GreeboIsMySpiritAnimal · 18/01/2022 09:40

St Bridget was pretty awesome. She was a nun-cowgirl, who miraculously transformed her bath water into beer to give to thirsty pilgrims (or at least that's what she told them...Wink)

There's been a couple of awesome Marys in history - Wollenstencraft is a particular favourite. History is also filled with amazing Eleanors, and Matildas.

Anne and Josephine are pretty fabulous literary role models. Plus you can go with Jo for Josephine if you're set on a boyish name.

The biblical one was a bit of a people pleaser, but I always think Ruth is a great girls name, too, and it's feminine (hard to think of a male version) without being princessy.


NameHelpNeeded123 · 18/01/2022 10:00

SUCH great suggestions and insights here, thanks! A lot of these names already on our list and rejected by DH, I will have to work on him and explain from the feminist angle. I am drawn to Greek names anyway as @ErrolTheDragon suggested. Zoë or Cleo would be my front runner if it was just down to me. Really interesting ponderings, thanks all!

Also - love Josephine but have a Joseph 😄

OP posts:

NameHelpNeeded123 · 18/01/2022 10:07

Calista is also Greek and on the list. May be on to something! Heading down a Greek rabbit hole. Love the sound of Io but may confuse people.

OP posts:

SingingToMySeeds · 18/01/2022 11:27

My young daughter is called Margaret after my Mum, and there are loads of creative fun ways to shorten that name! Meg, Maggie, Peggy, Daisy, Greta, etc. So you can customise it.

Nature names are nice too I think, Willow, Hazel, Ivy, Robin, and so on.


foxgoosefinch · 18/01/2022 11:30

What about Clea, Hero, Athena, Atlanta?


gogohm · 18/01/2022 14:36

Just think of a name you think will suit your impending cute baby, but also will be suitable for a high powered career woman. We went with bible names because they work well in other languages too - you never know where they will end up. Remember you can have a cute nickname


CheeseMmmm · 19/01/2022 04:23

Name as long as not bizarre or likely to mean judgement. Is neither here nor there.

The girl then woman who has the name is all that matters.

Plenty of women and girls with feminine names made dents in male dominance.


CheeseMmmm · 19/01/2022 04:29

I work with a takes no shit, v Pro women, no pause always speaks up woman called Princess.

Just FYI.


MichaelBooblay · 19/01/2022 04:43



foxgoosefinch · 19/01/2022 10:12


I work with a takes no shit, v Pro women, no pause always speaks up woman called Princess.

Just FYI.

Ha Cheese I know a Princess too! Do you work in software engineering….?

SirSamuelVimes · 19/01/2022 10:29

I agree with pp about avoiding names that end in a vowel sound if you don't want 'frilly'. I used to be a teacher and the last five years of my career, reading the register was a constant repeat of "a" or "ee" sounds at the end of the girls' names.

I have two DDs, neither has a name ending in a vowel sound, and neither are the female 'version' of a male name. But they absolutely are girl's names! When we chose them they felt like they were strong - we didn't want cutesy names that they would outgrow.

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