In french, there are many female given names that are derived from male given names. Those names are often obtained by adding "ine", "ette", "e" or "a" at the end of the male name. Examples include

  • Bérnard -> Bérnadette
  • Claude -> Claudine, Claudette
  • Charles -> Charline, Charlotte
  • Paul -> Pauline, Paulette
  • Gérald -> Géraldine
  • Martin -> Martine
  • Jean -> Jeanne
  • Aléxandre -> Aléxandra
  • Patrick -> Patricia

I might be mistaken in assuming that the male name came first for some of the above exampless. Consider also

  • Sylvain -> Sylvie, Sylvaine, Sylvette.

Here, Sylvain is not the "ancestor" of the female counterparts but all descend from Silvanus who is a male name.

While it appears easy to find female names that derive from male names, I could not find any example of a male name that derived from a female name. In romance languages, are there examples of male given names that derive from female given names?

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    Not an answer: The Italian man's name 'Andrea' sounds particularly feminine in English, because 'Andrea' in English is a female name. The Italian name comes from the Greek man's name 'Andreas'.
    – Mitch
    Commented Aug 1, 2018 at 18:46
  • 4
    Maybe a silly remark, but how do you know whether Françoise is derived from François by adding an e, or François is derived from Françoise by removing an e? All right, the name will probably come from older names, like Latin Franciscus or Francisca, or something, but ultimately it is a common adjective turned into a proper name. And the adjective has "always" had two parallel forms, corresponding to grammatical genders that have existed longer than the notion of being French. Commented Aug 1, 2018 at 21:41
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    @JeppeStigNielsen. Basically you are correct. François(e) is simply the older spelling of français(e), the adjective from Francia “the land inhabited by the Franks”, which (like the modern “France”) is feminine.
    – fdb
    Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 10:48
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    Oh... good finding. My assumption was wrong here. I'm removing François -> Françoise from my list. You can post Françoise -> François as an answer.
    – Remi.b
    Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 14:51
  • Can you clarify what you mean by "in romance languages"? Are you are looking only for names that are currently used in romance naming traditions, regardless of origin?
    – 1006a
    Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 16:46

5 Answers 5


The first thing I thought of was names derived in antiquity from the names of ancient Greek goddesses.

For example, the French male name Hercule is ultimately from the name of the Greek goddess Hera (Ἥρα) (it's not just a masculinized form of the name, though, obviously).

The name Artemio seems to be used in Italian and Spanish; I believe it comes from the Latin form Artemius of the Greek male name Αρτέμιος, which seems to be based on the name of the goddess Artemis (Ἄρτεμις).

In a comment, A. M. Bittlingmayer pointed out that Demetrius is similarly derived from the name of the Greek goddess Demeter. Demetrio seems to be used as an Italian form of this name.

I can't think of any recent examples, or productive processes for deriving male names from female names.

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    Analogous to Artemios is Demetrius. Marius was pre-Christian but then later associated with Mariam. Maybe Genovevo is similar, or maybe it was first from Genoveva. There are men named and José María, and for a recent example, Guadalupe, not sure if that counts as a productive process, even though it was a bit predictable. Commented Aug 1, 2018 at 8:13
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    I would have thought Hercule came from Herakles/Hercules.
    – JAB
    Commented Aug 1, 2018 at 22:25
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    @JAB The Greek Heracles means "Glory/Pride of Hera" according to Wikipedia.
    – Andrew
    Commented Aug 1, 2018 at 22:51
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    @AndrewPiliser: Strange, given that he was the result of Zeus's adultery with a human woman, not a child of Hera, and Hera hated him and tried to kill/defame him repeatedly. I guess the name refers to how Hera's attempts to destroy him (specifically, driving him mad so he murdered his family and had to atone) led to glory in his Labors? Commented Aug 1, 2018 at 23:26

In Italian there are a number of historically female names which are occasionally used as male names, e.g.

  • Celeste, Amabile, Fiore, Diamante

In many Romance languages the female name Maria (or some variant thereof) has historically been used in male names, either standalone or as part of a compound name, though this practice has generally declined with time:

Language Male name
Spanish José María1
Portuguese José Maria
Medieval French Marie
French Jean-Marie, Marie-Jean, Marie-Pierre etc
Italian Antonio Maria (middle name) etc

The female names Guadalupe and Inés are also sometimes given as a second name to males in Spanish e.g. José Guadalupe, José Inés Palafox Núñez.

1. Often abbreviated to José Mari, see: José María Romero Poyón, José María Martín Bejarano-Serrano, José Mari García, José Mari Bakero

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    The Italian "Mario" seems like it would be relevant here - but it apparently derives from the Latin "Marius", not a masculine version of the name "Maria". Commented Aug 1, 2018 at 14:23
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    Romanian: Marian
    – BogdanBiv
    Commented Aug 1, 2018 at 14:46
  • 1
    In Spain, it is often "José Marí" for males. And in Quebeçois parish registers, I've found a lot of "Marie-Joseph"
    – WGroleau
    Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 2:49
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    Mario presumably owes its popularity, though not its etymology, to Maria. Commented Apr 23, 2021 at 3:37

There are a few examples from Germanic names: Deolindo or Teolindo are derived from Deolinda/Teolinda (modern German cognate: Dietlind).

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    The Biblical Petros is a translation of the Aramaic name kēphā, which is masculine in Aramaic. The female name Petra derives from Petros, not from Greek πέτρα.
    – fdb
    Commented Aug 1, 2018 at 10:27
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    πέτρος and πέτρα are both attested from Homer onwards. You cannot say that one is more “original” than the other.
    – fdb
    Commented Aug 1, 2018 at 10:36
  • @ukemi. I think he is talking about Italian names of Germanic origin.
    – fdb
    Commented Aug 1, 2018 at 11:38
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    Re petra ==> Petros, I read the question as excluding those derived from common nouns not from a female noun, there would be many. Commented Aug 1, 2018 at 13:08

Derivation and inflection are different processes. Several proper nouns in Romance languages inflect for gender; in French, such inflection may be easily mistaken for a derivation, because the masculine gender usually takes a 0-desinence, while the feminine form takes an -e: Jean - Jeanne, Dominic - Dominique. But in other Romance languages, the difference is clearer: Paolo - Paola, Carlos - Carla, Alonzo - Alonza.

That said, there is a common trend (more intense in French than in the other languages) to derive feminine proper names from masculine ones, often as diminutives (Charles - Charlotte, Carlos - Carlota) or generic adjective-forming suffixes (Giuseppe - Giuseppina), or even random feminine-looking endings (Carlos - Carlene, probably by analogy with Marlene).

The reverse is much rarer. In Portuguese, I would point to "Mariano", which while etymologically related to Marianus (and consequently Marius), is usually interpreted as as "related or belonging to Maria" (and in several cases, such as emancipated slaves, orphans, or illegitimate boys, may have been actually intended as that). Another example could be several Brazilian Portuguese names ending in "ildo", which are etymologically related to germanic (and feminine) "Hilde": Hildo, Arildo, Brunildo, Leovigildo (sometimes already as fancy constructions such as Josenildo, Marildo, or Jacildo).


French Toussaint "All Saints' Day" is feminine, but as a personal name it is masculine.

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    It isn't "derived from a female name" though. Maybe you meant to make this a comment? Commented Aug 1, 2018 at 13:12
  • @A.M.Bittlingmayer. Names of holidays are proper nouns, and thus written with a capital.
    – fdb
    Commented Aug 1, 2018 at 13:22
  • @fdb So in french, words with a capital are derived from female names? That information is missing to make the connection here.
    – R. Schmitz
    Commented Aug 1, 2018 at 15:36
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    @fdb Well, I did understand what you said literally, but not how it was supposed to answer Bittligmayers comment, which mentioned that your answer is not about a male name derived from a female name (what the question is about).
    – R. Schmitz
    Commented Aug 1, 2018 at 17:22
  • 2
    It’s a male name derived from a feminine proper noun (La Toussaint) Commented Aug 5, 2018 at 15:12

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