Ask the Name Lady

Ask Now

What Makes a Name Masculine?

Why is my name a boy name?

–Alexis

It's a fair question, Alexis: Why is any name a "boy name," or a "girl name"? With almost every traditional name, the answer is that we're following in the footsteps of past baby namers. John and David are boys' names because they've always been boys' names. The same goes for girls' names like Anna and Elizabeth.

In the case of Alexis, those traditional boy-name footsteps go back thousands of years. (According to Behind the Name, a Greek poet named Alexis lived in the 3rd century BCE.) Today, the name is commonly used for boys in countries as diverse as Belgium and Chile.

Yet the name is also an example of how usage can change. Alexis became a girl's name in the United States starting in the 1940s, thanks to actress Alexis Smith. It took off even more for girls several decades later, in the 1980s, because of the (female) character named Alexis Carrington on Dynasty.

Today, most Americans named Alexis are female. And that follows the pattern of many boys' names that eventually switch over to the girls' side. But whether you are a boy or a girl, you are part of a long-standing tradition, a name that's been used by poets, saints, and emperors.

Comments

Please do not add links to your comments. Thank you.

November 1, 2017 11:46 AM
By tilak (not verified)

Very good content. It is really good post on what makes a name masculine. I like it.

November 3, 2017 1:54 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I think for Americans pop culture does influence the factor greatly. Drew Barrymore, Blake Lively, even just characters themselves becuaebit help support them stand out and covey if not those names that it seems common enough that no name is off the table for those moms or parents looking. I also think with that mentality a given that names like Alexis are a small hop from Alex. A name like Stacy did that- it has elements to lend femininity and then Tracy, Casey, and others can follow suit! It’s factors of culture and time. :)

November 6, 2017 6:42 PM
By I like Cambria (not verified)

I'm not the original submitter, but seeing the post I was hoping for a more detailed post that talked about how certain sounds are considered masculine and feminine in different languages and more examples on what kinds of events are changing that. She didn't even mention the obvious, that the feminine-sounding nickname Lexie likely made some parents decide to make the bold move.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options

CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.