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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.

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    See also judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/5734. – msh210 Jan 2 '12 at 23:37
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    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
  • I think rabbi Kanievsky is against it, in most situations but with names he is a dass Yachid in what he says like his opposition to the Name Shira – simchastorah Jan 2 '12 at 23:46
  • One of the more common male (nick)names in Israel, "Avi", is actually only used in Tanach in reference to somebody's mother. – avi Jan 3 '12 at 14:41
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    @simchashatorah, Yeah, do you know what R' Kanievsky has agaisnt the name Shira? – jake Jan 3 '12 at 16:52
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In "What's in a Name", the English translation of Zusha Wilhelm's sefer "Ziv HaShemot", the following is stated (Hebrew version with footnotes here):

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 (Hebrew version with footnotes here):

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.

  • The chasam sofer called his daughter simcha which is common to both @Menachem and perhaps more common to males called bunem or binyamin (because of ben oni) see names in SA. – newcomer May 18 '16 at 5:43
  • I'm not sure how this answers the question. It discusses changing names, but although it discusses giving a man's name to women, or neutral names to either, it doesn't discuss giving a woman's name to men. – DonielF Apr 6 '17 at 2:27
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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.

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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.

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    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
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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.

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

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