Celebrity Names Blog

Viola Davis's Baby Name: Why Genesis is a Girl's Name

Viola Davis's Baby Name: Why Genesis is a Girl's Name
Fame Pictures

The Help actress Viola Davis and her husband, actor Julian Tennon, have adopted a daughter, whom they have named Genesis

Original reports claimed that baby Genesis was a boy, making the name an unusual choice, a gender-bender on par with Johnny Knoxville's baby girl Arlo. Reports have since been corrected.

Genesis means birth in Greek, and is the name of the first book of the Bible. Genesis is common as a girl's name (#89 in 2010), but rare as a boy's name. In 2010, the same number of boys (68 in the US) were named Genesis as were named Blair, Gabrial, Ken and Osiris. 

Why has Genesis -- a word without a traditionally feminine ending, and not a flower or virtue, and which had never previously been used as a name -- been so decidely taken up by the girls? The root "Gen" of course. Gen sounds like Jen, nickname for Jennifer. And Gen itself is a short form of Genevieve.

Viola Davis was associated with another name controversy earlier this year. When she played Aibileen Clark in The Help, she stepped into a role that was the source of a name lawsuit. Ablene Cooper had sued author Kathryn Stockett for "unauthorized appropriation of her name and image" in creating the character of Aibileen Clark. 

What do you think of Genesis? Could it fly on a boy?



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October 18, 2011 3:18 PM
By AngelaAiea (not verified)

The only Genesis I've ever known was a man. I can't believe I didn't know if had climbed that high for girls!

October 18, 2011 4:38 PM
By Allison (not verified)

I've only heard it on girls, but I find it unattractive as a name in general. Though Geni, Genie & Nessie are great nickname options. I don't really see male nicknames in it.

Interesting about the lawsuit.

October 19, 2011 11:31 AM
By mk (not verified)

The only Genesis I've heard ever of, aside from the band, was on the Real World, and she was a woman.

I don't like it as a name for anyone, boy or girl.

October 19, 2011 1:52 PM
By Essy (not verified)

I'm kind of shocked how popular Genesis is for girls. I've never met a Genesis and the only one I'd ever heard of was a baby name Genesis who is a sextuplet featured on a TLC show "Sextuplets Take New York" - which I enjoyed but I guess not a lot of other people did since it was canceled very quickly. Pretty sure Genesis Carpio was a girl and they called her Gennie (like Jenny).

I'm with mk however, i'm not a fan of it as a name for anyone.

October 19, 2011 7:03 PM
By Den (not verified)

Because it starts with Gen/Jen doesn't make it feminine. I know a Jensen who goes by Jen as a nickname.

October 19, 2011 7:22 PM
By Stephanie (not Steffie) (not verified)

I like the name Genesis, actually, but I don't see why it can't be a boy and girl's name. The nicknames are distinctly feminine, but most boys I know nowadays are called by their full names- Robert, Jonathan, Nicholas, etc. Genesis could be the same. Maybe boys can adopt Exodus :) Or Leviticus :) Okay, that may be pushing it a little too far...

October 19, 2011 9:18 PM
By Juli (not verified)

Actually, -is is a feminine ending in old Germanic names (Adelheidis, Freydis and the like), so that may be another factor why the word is trending feminine as a name.

It's not a good name for humans, however. If it's the meaning you want, what's wrong with Natalie? If you want the sound, why not use Jennifer or Genevieve? There are so many names out there, why saddle your poor kid with the title of a book?

October 20, 2011 12:12 AM
By Lori (not verified)

I am very glad to hear that Genesis is a girl. My first thoughts were of the nicknames Gen or Sis... neither of which would be good for a boy!

July 19, 2016 8:12 AM
By Leah (not verified)

My daughter is called Genesis, I like that name a lot.

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