Chad is a millennial, coming into the world during the Reagan administration.
Tangentially, some names are experiencing a renaissance. When I was a kid, names like Vivian, Amelia, Stella, Evelyn, and Charlotte were the names of old ladies at church. None of my classmates had those kinds of grandmotherly names. They’ve come roaring back since then, though. Charlotte and Amelia are now two of the very most popular girl names in the country.
It’s harder to find male names that experience the same kind of resurgence after the old generation passes away, ending the name’s association with elderliness. The virile names Rex of Felix, both etymologically Latin, are a couple I have been able to discover. There are surely more, but it’s a less common phenomenon among boys than it is among girls.
Parenthetical to the tangent, the best safeguard against a boy’s name primarily becoming a young girl’s name during the boy’s lifetime is to turn to the good book. There is no gender fluidity in biblical names. Matthew, Mark, Luke, Jacob, John, David, Michael, Noah–these are male names, and they will stay that way.
What are some names formerly given to boys that have since been usurped by girls? Lindsey, Kennedy, Sydney, Riley, Skyler, Lauren, Taylor, Kendall, Morgan, Peyton, Dakota, Bailey–just to name a few. These were all exclusively or primarily male names that have since become female names. That’s a non-exhaustive list of the names they’ve stolen from us!
Before really digging into it tonight, I’d been under the impression that there were no instances of a girl’s name transforming into a boy’s name over time, but I’ve found one modest counterexample in Dominique.
It’s modest because today about 50 in one million American boys are given the first name, while 40 in one million girls are. Hardly the definitive reversal of a name like Sydney. A century ago, a female Sydney was unheard of. Today, 500 in one million girls get the name, compared to just 10 in one million boys who do.