Dara Ó Briain, from telegraph.co.uk
When an aquaintance recently announced her new daughter’s name as Freya, she was showered with compliments. Little did they know, baby Freya was very nearly a Zephyr nn Zephy: It’s the 21st Century Stephanie, she said. I love the name Zephyr, for me, he’s a 21st Century Geoffrey, but the idea of it on a pink bundle of joy has been growing on me all week, so it makes sense to talk about it now, since the recent report on the genderless baby named Storm got me thinking about a name I’ve always classified as male having potential as a female name.
Then there’s the flipside of the coin. Until I was introduced to AFI back in ’03, Jade was a girls name for me, but AFI’s guitarist is very much male, despite being called Jade. The French still use Camille for males, there’s a strapping young french swimmer named Camille LeCourt. Rowan Atkinson is one of my comedy heros, mostly for Blackadder, and his name is still used equally for lads and ladettes. I also can’t get enough of Dara Ó Briain’s stand up DVD, his name may be considered female by one side of the pond, but in the Emerald Isle, he’s still male. Despite this, I have a female irish friend named Daragh.
Here’s a couple of other names I’ve been thinking about this week, in terms of this subject:
Doctor Who used to have a female companion named Ace, well, it was her nickname, but if the first Ace that comes to mind is female, does that mean the name has potential on the other gender? Well, I’m sure most of you out there first thought Ace Ventura, or another Ace. I’m just your average child of a Doctor Who nut, I don’t know any better.
But, getting to Asa, I’ve yet to see one, but I’ve seen people ask about whether Asa is a he or a she. An argument I keep seeing is, any name ending in a is a girl name. It’s logically, in Italy, most female names end in a: Adriana, Nadia, Isabella, Elisabetta etc. etc. To change Theodore to it’s female version, the e is swapped for an a.
Think of the most famous Ashley you know, is it a she or a he? The first one I can think of is Ashley Cole, a premiership footballer, who also plays for England. Embarassingly, the next Ashley on the list is Ashley Tisdale, the disney star. My 8 year-old sister is going through the High School Musical stage, I’m excused.
Growing up, I was best friends for a while in primary school with a male Ashley. He was the goalie, I was the striker. It was a love/hate kind of friendship Either way, in the USA, the overwhelming number of Ashley’s born in the 90s were female. Ashley cracked the top 10 as a she name, and she currently sits at #27 in the USA . In the UK, on the 2009 list, Ashley was #421 for girls, 15 places below Flora, 2 above Ophelia. In the boys list of the same year, Ashley is #154, 2 above Rowan, 8 below Alfred. Ashton sits at #69, Asher at #427.
Beau is our next name, she was 6 places above Ashley at #414 on the UK female list in 2009, and #178 for the boys. Ulrika Johnsson has a daughter named Bo (at #771 in the UK list, ’09), and a Beau Vivienne has made an appearance in the London Telegraph Birth Announcements.
I too have considered Bo for a girl, creating the combination Lili Bo Rika back when I was 10. As for using Beau, it’s a possibility, but I love the name Belle too much. I’ll admit, I’d love to meet a Beau/Belle girl/boy twin set.
I recently clocked Bobbie on a list of names for Rockabilly girls, I’ll admit, it has a certain pazazz to it. Whitney Houston has a daughter named Bobbi, and Lenny Henry has a daughter named Billie. There’s also little Billie Beatrice to consider, and Miss Billie Piper, notable for her Doctor Who work and another, slightly saucier role. Billie’s full name is Billie Paul Piper. Double dudeness! Her father is named Paul, and in fairness, she was originally named Liane, until her parents experienced namers remorse, and changed her name to Billie.
I’ll admit it, I’ve played with the idea of Brave as a middle before for a boy. However, I’ve seen two mummy bloggers post about Brave: One considered it for a baby boy, one actually has a girl named Brave.
Whilst in France last year, I remember watching a daytime quiz show, a female contestant was named Marie-Claude. Now, this name is doubly gender-neutral in France, since Marie has historically been used for males there. As for Claude, that was a bit of a shocker for me.
Only for a short period did I think about this name. I live in England, Cricket is a sport. Heck, I go past one of the most famous Cricket grounds in the world each day: Trent Bridge. My brother plays cricket every Wednesday and Sunday, in his best, if slightly grass-stained at the knees, cricket whites.
It still makes for a cute nickname. I may rename my brother Cricket, although Nameberry lists it as a female name only.
The most famous Darcey is Mr. Darcy, but Nameberry did a post, albeit a little while ago, that placed Darcy, in it’s various spellings, in the most searched names list (for babynames.co.uk users) for both males and females. On the female list: Darcie was at #18, Darcey at #36 (4 below Betty!). On the boy list, Darcy was at #15, 2 above Rowan.
Personally, I’ve always been drawn to the Darcey spelling. and it’s the most popular spelling for girls, in 2009, Darcey charted at #107 for girls (and #3744 for lads), with Darcy just behind at #116, and Darcie at #178. For the boys, Darcy was at #972 (just above Darragh).
I’m a huge Formula 1 fan, and Jenson Button is my favourite driver. Jenson was #143 in 2009 in the UK for the boys, and if Madison and Addison can both become female, could Jenson too? It certainly seems as a natural progression from Jennifer (which was at it’s peak around the time Jenson was born), and it allows me to use one of my favourite nickname: Sunny (currently at #1546 for girls, #923 for boys).
I know of two famous Mika’s that are male: the lebanese/american singer and the finnish ex-Formula 1 champion. Still, in Eurovision this year, Ukraine was represented by a female Mika.
In terms of the UK 2009 list, Mika charted at #1105 for girls, and #2318 for boys.
Mostly used for males until little Miss Pitt-Jolie arrived on the scene in 2006. My line on this is Shiloh was likely to never pick up for girls until someone influencial came along to get things rolling. In this sense, I liken this name to Milo. Same sort of sounds, but one is considered male, the other, not so much. Remarkable, non?
Again, we can find Shiloh on both the girls and boys list: #1008 for lads, #916 for girls. The fact that there isn’t much difference could give hope to those who want Shiloh back as a male name.