"Jay" as female name

Ann Burlingham ann at BURLINGHAMBOOKS.COM
Sat Dec 4 15:53:09 UTC 2010

On Sat, Dec 4, 2010 at 9:43 AM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at att.net> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
> Subject:      Re: "Jay" as female name
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> At 12/4/2010 09:15 AM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>>The only "Jays" I've known or heard of have been male. Till now.
> You haven't heard of Jay-Lo?
> But imagine arriving as an anxious pre-teen at a new middle school*
> and finding that in my grade of merely 80 kids there was another Joel
> -- and it was female.

I have a female cousin named Jay, who is her 30s, I believe. I'm not
sure if it's her given name or a nickname. The handy-dandy Baby Name
Wizard confirms the scarcity of the name for girls - none found in the
top 1000 of popular US girls' names (its use for boys peaked in the
1960s). http://www.babynamewizard.com/voyager#prefix=jay&ms=false&exact=true

http://ssa.gov/OACT/babynames/decades/century.html agrees.

A 20-something male friend has been dismayed by his name, Avery,
suddenly going very strongly female. I know at least 3 babies/little
girls named Avery. Seven years ago, it made my "potential baby names"
list for either a boy or a girl, in my case because it was a family
middle name (from a surname?). I still have no clue how it became a
hit on others' lists. (Nor how "Ethan", a name I'd known one living
person with, became a top-ten 21st century American name.)


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