One of my college roommates is a professional genealogist. Knowing my interest in baby names, she sent me a list of names she’d run across in her research that used to be solely last names but, over the years, have morphed into first names for girls.
As someone with a last name for a first name myself (Janssen – the vice-president of Sears and Roebuck the year I was born), I love seeing other last names that have taken on new life as first names.
I know someone with almost every one of the names on this list as a first name!
- Addison – means “son of Adam” (which makes it a bit surprising that it’s now such a popular name for girls, rather than boys).
- Allison – this French name shot into popularity in the 1950s and hasn’t dipped below the top 100 mark in the last 40 years.
- Ashley – it first made the jump from last name to first name for boys, then changed over to girls in the second half of the 20th century.
- Avery – Although this name is more popular for girls (currently it’s 13th most popular), it is also common for boys.
- Bailey – Since 1983, this name has jumped from 954 to 79. That’s some serious ground gained!
- Bentley – This extremely popular boy name is just starting to make an appearance for girls too.
- Berkley – Another name that is just starting to gain popularity. I love this name.
- Casey – it can also be spelled “Kasey” or “Casee.”
- Courtney – This name has lost ground in the last decade (I can’t think of the last baby I heard of named Courtney).
- Emery – means “brave.”
- Gale – Usually the male version is spelled “Gale,” while the feminine version is “Gail.”
- Lacy – This name seems so undeniably feminine in my mind, that I was shocked to see it was a popular boy’s name until the late 1960s (when it abruptly disappeared from the top 1000 boy names)
- Lindsay – This name hit its peak in 1984 and has been falling since then, currently down at 708 on the Social Security Baby Name list.
- Kelsey – A decade after “Lindsay,” this name peaked in the early nineties, but is still holding its own in the 200s.
- Kendall – a Celtic name meaning “from the bright valley.”
- Kennedy – Whether you’re thinking of JFK or Jackie O, this is a name with a lot of glamour attached.
- Macy – If you’re looking for a name that’s neither too popular or too obscure, Macy is a great choice. It’s been holding steady in the high 200s and low 300s since the mid-nineties.
- Madison – Another presidential name on this list!
- Malory – means “the unlucky one” but that’s no reason to ignore this lovely name.
- McKenzie – This name has been very stable, currently hanging at #152
- McKinley – McKinley might not be the most well-known president, but his name is living on and getting increasingly popular!
- Morgan – This name’s been in the top 100 for girls since 1987 and still going strong.
- Payton – alternatively, you can spell it “Peyton.”
- Reagan – This name is climbing fast and shows no signs of slowing down.
- Riley – This hugely popular name goes for both girls and boys.
- Shelby – although it is slowly losing popularity, it’s a name that has a lot of staying power.
- Tatum – This name made the jump straight from a last name to a girl’s name without making a stop as a boy’s name.
- Taylor – First a profession, then a surname, then a boy’s name, it now is equally at home as a girl’s name.
- Tracy – After its heyday in the 60s, this one was never quite regained its luster, currently barely squeezing onto the top 1000 list at 951
- Whitney – This name peaked in the nineties and now is clocking in around the 500s.
- Aubrey – Climbing fast, this name is currently #15.
- Hillary – means “cheerful”
- Mallory – consistently popular since the early eighties, this one doesn’t look like its going anywhere.
- Kelly – means “warrior.”
- Kerry – this one has a lot of alternate spellings, including “Keri” and “Cari.”