14

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?

  • 2
    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 Aug 1 '18 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. – Jeppe Stig Nielsen Aug 1 '18 at 21:41
  • 2
    @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 Aug 2 '18 at 10:48
  • 2
    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 Aug 2 '18 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 Aug 2 '18 at 16:46
21

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.

  • 2
    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. – Adam Bittlingmayer Aug 1 '18 at 8:13
  • 2
    I would have thought Hercule came from Herakles/Hercules. – JAB Aug 1 '18 at 22:25
  • 1
    @JAB The Greek Heracles means "Glory/Pride of Hera" according to Wikipedia. – Andrew says Reinstate Monica Aug 1 '18 at 22:51
  • 1
    @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? – ShadowRanger Aug 1 '18 at 23:26
10

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 practise has generally declined with time:

The female name Guadalupe is also sometimes given as a second name to males in Spanish e.g. José Guadalupe.

Similarly in Spanish with the female name Inés e.g 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

  • 1
    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". – Michael Lugo Aug 1 '18 at 14:23
  • 1
    Romanian: Marian – BogdanBiv Aug 1 '18 at 14:46
  • In Spain, it is often "José Marí" for males. And in Quebeçois parish registers, I've found a lot of "Marie-Joseph" – WGroleau Aug 2 '18 at 2:49
5

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

  • 3
    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 Aug 1 '18 at 10:27
  • 2
    πέτρος and πέτρα are both attested from Homer onwards. You cannot say that one is more “original” than the other. – fdb Aug 1 '18 at 10:36
  • @ukemi. I think he is talking about Italian names of Germanic origin. – fdb Aug 1 '18 at 11:38
  • 1
    Re petra ==> Petros, I read the question as excluding those derived from common nouns not from a female noun, there would be many. – Adam Bittlingmayer Aug 1 '18 at 13:08
5

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).

0

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

  • 5
    It isn't "derived from a female name" though. Maybe you meant to make this a comment? – Adam Bittlingmayer Aug 1 '18 at 13:12
  • @A.M.Bittlingmayer. Names of holidays are proper nouns, and thus written with a capital. – fdb Aug 1 '18 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 Aug 1 '18 at 15:36
  • 5
    @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 Aug 1 '18 at 17:22
  • 2
    It’s a male name derived from a feminine proper noun (La Toussaint) – Frédéric Grosshans Aug 5 '18 at 15:12

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.