Take the 2-minute tour ×
Mi Yodeya is a question and answer site for those who base their lives on Jewish law and tradition and anyone interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Is a person allowed to name a boy with a girl's name and vice versa?

I remember seeing that one musn't, although in Nach one finds these things a lot. I understand it is not best practice for shidduchim, but I would still like to know the sources on this.

share|improve this question
See also judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/5734. –  msh210 Jan 2 '12 at 23:37
FWIW, I know a female N'sanya (although of course in Tanach it's a man's name). –  msh210 Jan 2 '12 at 23:38
What, you never heard of the boy named Zlateh? –  HodofHod Jan 3 '12 at 2:06
@simchashatorah, Yeah, do you know what R' Kanievsky has agaisnt the name Shira? –  jake Jan 3 '12 at 16:52
@HodofHod, Haha, of course! But look what trouble it caused. His father left him, he grew up ridiculed, and then beat up his own father the next time he saw him. ;) –  jake Jan 3 '12 at 16:54

4 Answers 4

up vote 9 down vote accepted

In "What's in a Name", the English translation of Zusha Wilhelm's sefer "Ziv HaShemot", the following is stated:

1) Some say that one may name a male child after a female. (See Bris Avos 8:37; See also Koreis HaBris, Posach Eliyahu, note 8; See Kuntres HaShemos (revised edition), Vol 7, p. 10; See Sefer HaBris, p. 313; See the Midrash on Pinchas (13:12) ) Others maintain that it is better not to convert a feminine name to a masculine one. (See Sefer HaMetzaref chapter 3; Responsa Tzitz Eliezer, Vol. 11, ch. 56, and references to Vol 7, 49:13)

2) It is not proper to name a female after a male. (See Bris Avos 8:37) Some authorities disagree, and do have a custom of giving a man’s names to a female. (See Responsa HaMaor, Vol 1, p. 134, and in Responsa Mevaser Tov, stating that this is the custom in America. See Noam, Vol. 8, p, 192; See Devash , p. 299)

In the next chapter, the following is stated:

Some say that one should not give his child a name that is common to both males and females. (See Responsa Divrei Malkiel 3:75; See also Responsa of R. Shmuel di Medina, Even HaEzer 65)

I got a hold of the printed book and added the sources to this answer. The book itself not only brings the sources, but quotes most of them.

As @ba pointed out in the footnotes, the Tzitz Eliezer 21:4:4 brings opinions that permit it, as well as opinions that are against it.

share|improve this answer
Ziv Hashemot was recently posted online at hebrewbooks.org - hebrewbooks.org/53094 -- If I have a chance I'll find the page inside and link to it. If anyone wants to beat me to it, you're more than welcome –  Menachem Feb 4 at 3:09

Short answer from Rabbi Shlomo Aviner:

Naming a Daughter after a Male Relative

Q: I saw that Ha-Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach said that there is absolutely no reason to name a daughter after a male relative (Ve-Alehu Lo Yibul Volume 2, p. 142). And it is written in Shut Tzitz Eliezer (7:49 #13) that a strict person will refrain from doing so. What is Ha-Rav's opinion? Is it permissible to name a daughter after a male relative if he had a name used for both males and females, such as Simchah orYonah, or a name that can be feminized, such as Nachum-Nechama, Yosef-Yosefa or Tzion-Tziona?

A: It is a stricture not to do so, but according to the basic Halachah, it is permissible.

share|improve this answer

The Rivivos Efraim 1:109 mentions in the name of the Tzitz Eliezer 7:49:13 that it is not proper to name a male after a female or vice versa.

share|improve this answer
The Tzitz Eliezer 21:4:4 quoted in my answer mentions this Tzitz Eliezer (7:49:13) and then says he later saw the Shu"T Divrei Malchiel who brings several reason why one should not do this. –  Menachem Sep 16 '12 at 0:59

It is preferable to name a baby boy after a man and a baby girl after a woman and to use the original name be it Hebrew, Yiddish or Ladino. If you are naming your son after a woman, the Jewish name needs to be transposed to a male name/equivalent (and similarly if you're naming your daughter after a man.)

Quoted from: http://www.emohel.com/naming.php

It appears therefore that while a boy and be named after a woman the name must be changed, not left as a girl's name and visa versa.

share|improve this answer
That Web page doesn't cite any source, though, AFAICT. –  msh210 Jan 3 '12 at 16:18
why the downvote? –  Menachem Jun 28 '12 at 4:07

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

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