I’ve written before about name sex-changes — the process by which male names become female. What happens is that parents of girls begin to adopt a male name, attracted to the strength or intelligence it conveys. For a short time, the name is androgynous, but then, at a certain tipping point, parents of boys cede the name entirely. God forbid Daddy’s Little Boy be mistaken for a girl, right?
A graphing tool called the Baby Name Voyager shows us exactly how this process takes place. Check out the stats on my own name. Blue is for boys, and magenta is for girls, obviously. The gender on top in the graph is actually the one for whom the name is less common.
Sure enough, "Dana" reached its apogee during the 1980s, the decade of my own birth, when it was among the top 100 names for girls. And as you can see, the name was male-dominated until the 1940s, when it flipped. Dana Carvey‘s parents were behind the times when they chose the name for the future comedian in 1955.
You can do a lot of cool things with the Baby Name Voyager such as comparing the number of Bens to Benjamins, for example, or seeing the most common names that begin with any letter. Check it out.
(And thanks to Mark for showing me the site!)