Unisex names: Lindsay

Lindsay

This weekend’s unisex name is Lindsay.

For the last 30 or so years, this name has been almost exclusively feminine thanks to Lindsay Wagner, which you will find out why below.

With regards to when the name became feminine, Behind the Name says this (before the update that took place):

As a given name it was usually masculine until the 1970s, when it became popular for girls, probably due to its similarity to Linda and because of American actress Lindsay Wagner (1949-).

This is, in general, what happened to Lindsay, but the tables show this isn’t always the case everywhere.

For instance, take a look at how many babies (male and female) were born with the name Lindsay in 1966.

E&W USA BC ONTARIO SA
MALE 36 56 <4 9 10
FEMALE 289 61 <4 5 0
Ratio 88.9% fem. 52.1% fem. // 64.3% mal. 100% mal.

E&W – England & Wales, BC – British Columbia and SA – South Australia

Before I get to the E&W side, I want to bring up something about the USA side of the data. In years before 1966, Lindsay would be on the masculine side for most of the time, though from 1948 through to 1952, Lindsay would briefly be on the girl’s side for the first time, even though the peak feminine ratio is 56.5% in 1949 and 56.2% in 1952, which made it an evenly unisex name at that time.
Now, about the E&W side of the data, some of you may be surprised that it was already a mainly feminine name in England and Wales by the mid 1960s. Since I couldn’t be able to find a factor for this change, I would assume that it was Lindsay’s non-etymological similarity with Linda that caused this.

Speaking about that, let’s take a look at the data gathered from outward passenger lists for Brits (as a whole) leaving to other places.

1920-4 1925-9 1930-4 1935-9 1940-4 1945-9 1950-4
MALE 42 28 23 5 8 27 16
FEMALE 6 7 2 7 5 39 28
Ratio 87.5% M 80% M 92% M 71.4% F 61.5% M 59.1% F 63.6% F
US Ratio 94.7% M 91.8% M 95% M 85.1% M 74.8% M 53.3% M UNISEX

Ignoring the sudden blip from masculine to feminine from 1935-9, Lindsay began to turn into the girl’s side in England and Wales after the Second World War with the ratio reaching 63.6% on the girl’s side by the period between 1950 and 1954.

Using the birth and marriage indexes from 1916-2005 and paying attention to the period between 1945 and 1956 brings us these results (on a sum of 50 people from 1946-56) and supports what I’ve said above:
1945 – 54.8% masculine
1946 – 60% feminine
1948 – 70% feminine
1950 – 74% feminine
1952 – 78% feminine
1954 – 68% feminine
1956 – 76% feminine

So, clearly, England & Wales was the first part of the English-speaking world to turn Lindsay into a feminine name. However, when we separate England & Wales, it results in the majority of Lindsays (male and female) being born in England. For Wales, looking at the results there, it took a while longer to become a feminine-majority name (it turned mainly feminine by the mid 1950s).

So, with all of this in mind, many of you would think that Lindsay was a masculine back in the ‘good ol’ days.’ Well, let’s take a look at that.

E&W USA BC ONTARIO SA
MALE 32 377-393 2 207 6
FEMALE 3 <144 0 6 1
Ratio 91.4% M 84.2% M // 97.2% M //

E&W – 1837-1915, USA – 1880-1915, BC – 1854-1903, ON 1869-1912 & SA – 1792-1915

Well, we got it right all along…no big deal…
Now, let’s check out the tables for other years (1973, 1980, 1996 & 2013).

1973

E&W USA BC ONTARIO SA
MALE 25 22 <4 5 1
FEMALE 294 115 14 14 0
Ratio 92.2% F 83.9% F 87.5% F 73.7% F //

1980

E&W USA BC ONTARIO SA
MALE 21 52 <4 7 4
FEMALE 651 4354 136 449 2
Ratio 96.9% F 98.8% F 98.5% F 98.5% F 66.7% M

Notice how the number of the number of female Lindsays jumped (in the US, it jumped from 115 to 4354 in 7 years). It was all thanks to, as mentioned earlier, Lindsay Wagner. She starred in the Bionic Woman (1976-1978) as Jaime Sommers. It proved to be a big hit worldwide and that is why Lindsay (and Jaime) rose high up.

1996

E&W USA BC ONTARIO SA
MALE 2 21 <4 <4 3
FEMALE 52 2397 49 188 2
Ratio 96.3% F 99.1% F 96.1% F 98.9% F 60% M

2013

E&W USA BC ONTARIO (2010) SA
MALE <2 <4 <4 <4 1
FEMALE 3 409 <4 14 0
Ratio 75% F 99.5% F // 87.5% F //

Well, I wish I could cover Lindsay’s variants but all in all, it’s a bit much for one post, so I will do a follow-up post on those in ‘Name Spotlights’ over the next few days and the key focus will be on Lynsey, so stick around.

So, what do you think? Did anything astound you in some way? Leave your thoughts in the comments section as always.

Sources:

For Lindsay’s meaning and history: Behind the Name
Available at ancestry.co.uk: Outward Passenger Lists (1890-1960), England & Wales FreeBMD Birth Index (1837-1915) and England & Wales Birth Index (1916-2005)
Available at familysearch.com: British Columbia Birth Registrations (1854-1903), Ontario Births (1869-1912) and Australia Births & Baptisms (1792-1981)
For USA: Social Security Administration
For England & Wales (1996 onwards): Office for National Statistics
For British Columbia (1915 onwards): Government of British Columbia
For Ontario (1917-2010): ontario.ca Male & Female
For South Australia (1944 onwards): South Australian Government Data Directory

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