"Tristan" now feminine given name

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Fri Feb 24 17:24:59 UTC 2006

Like the English (masculine) poet and novelist Laurie (for "Laurence") Lee (1914-1997).


Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU> wrote:
  ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: Laurence Horn
Subject: Re: "Tristan" now feminine given name

At 3:06 PM -0800 2/23/06, FRITZ JUENGLING wrote:
>We have some friends whose daughters are named Robbie and Dani
>(sp?). Of course, the tendency to use traditionally boys' names for
>girls is well known. How often does it go the other way? Examples?
>I have two brothers-in-law whose names are Robin and Kerry. The
>former I know has been used as a boy's name for a long time, but
>even as a kid, I always felt uneasy about a boy being named Robin.
>Well, I still can't get used to Kerry.

My brother is a (male, American) Robin, but named (by me) for
Christopher Robin, who was of course British. Most Robins in the
U.S. are female (no, I'm not including robins). But then I was
"Laurie" growing up, my name having been chosen on the basis of Teddy
Laurence of _Little Women_, who was known by the Marches as "Laurie".
To survive junior high school, I had to become Larry, but there are
male Lauries elsewhere in the English-speaking world, perhaps chiefly
in Scotland (and, by osmosis, Canada). But in general the fate of
these names like that of so many others reflects the Gresham's Law
principle found also in taboo avoidance: once a previously masculine
name is widely androgynized, it becomes more and more difficult to
apply it to boys.


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