Where the Wild Things Are graffiti in Saskatoon; Image via Wikipedia

On a girl, this choice is as dated as Mrs. Brady’s bellbottoms, but how about on a boy?

Thanks to Charlotte for suggesting Carol as our Baby Name of the Day.

Karl started out as a Germanic name meaning man.

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. Carol coming back to the boys feels about as likely as Beverly, Meredith, and Vivian making their way back. Something with more contemporary sounds like Kelly or Robin seems a little more likely to me. Has there ever been a completely gone-to-girls name made its way back to the boys? I can’t think of any.

    1. Jean —
      For girls, it was a top 50 name from 1914-1952, but today doesn’t rank at all.
      While this spelling has never been very popular for boys, it’s never left the top 1000 and is currently ranked #791.

      1. I don’t think Jean counts, I treat the male and female Jean as different names even though they’re spelt the same way. Both have different origins, one is english and female, the other is french and male. A bit like Joan.
        I think Jessie might be one that started out more female leaning and now is more masculine. Dominique too, although this one is a legitimate french unisex name.

        On the article, I personally think Carol is male and Carole female. I don’t think either is ready for a comeback, both sound really dated. Cary on the other hand I can picture it on a little boy, I think it’s usable.

    2. Don’t forget Meredith was used recently on a celebrity baby. I think it’s all down to the parents and how comfortable they feel using these kind of names on boys. If you really like them, then I say go for it.

  2. This is one of my husband’s favorites. After the Pope died, my husband mentioned that we could name a son Karol/Carroll [his preferred spellings] and call him Cary. While I do have Polish family, I thought it would be strange for us to use since neither of us is Catholic [my mom is], and the name is so tied to the Pope in my mind.

    Also, to me, the girls’ name should be spelled Carole.

  3. I’d never considered Carolus and I must say I quite like the sound of it. I think Carol could work quite well on an adult man, but I could see it being difficult for a young boy to wear, even in in today’s more accepting playgrounds.

    Thanks as always for the excellent article, Abby!

  4. My Grandmama is a Carole, and thus should I ever feel the need to name a daughter after her, I would use the ‘e’ spelling, and for a son it’d be Carolus, since using the Carol spelling doesn’t ‘feel’ right for me. Of course, using Carroll would quite neatly reference to the author of Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll (even though it was a pseudonym for Charles Dodgson).

  5. My mom and I were just discussing the name Carroll/Carol (there was an obit in the paper of a Carroll, who’s widow was Carol.) To me… Carol feels feminine, while Carroll is completely masculine, in the vein of Sidney/Sydney and Francis/Frances. Carroll sounds very debonaire, especially with an Irish surname.

    Karl keeps coming up during baby name discussions, so if we ever have a boy, it’s a real possibility.

    1. My thoughts exactly. Carol feels feminine but Carroll is masculine. Ditto the other names you mentioned.

      I love Karl by the way! Karl and Klaus are two of the few names where I really prefer the K spelling over C.

  6. I have a young cousin named Emma Carol, after her great grandmother. We also have a Karl in our Germanic family, so we’re more likely to go the Karl/Carleton route for boys and leave Carol/Caroline to the girls. Cara and Carly are other options for the girls. I love Cary as a boy’s name, though.

  7. Carol feels boyish to me! I do like it but get flack for it being girly and “not a family name” so I’ll never be able to use it. Maybe Karol, to honor my Mom’s Polish heritage. In the middle. He might let me then… Must work on this. Karol’s cool! 🙂

    1. Carole seems more solidly feminine to me. The tricky thing about Carol that I didn’t get into here – though I probably should have – is that carol, the song, actually has a separate origin, related to chorus and choral. So you could argue that Carol – and Carole, an older spelling in use along the way – is actually a musical term, in step with Harmony and Cadence.

      I used to work with a retired reporter named Charlie Carroll – great guy, and I always loved his name.

  8. I do like Carol or even – dare I say it? – Carolus on a boy. I also like Karen and Lindsay, Ashley and Dana on boys. Variants of Charles are great, though.

    1. I wonder if you could put Carol/Carroll on the birth certificate and use Cary as a short form? I don’t know – I’m bothered by our inability to take names BACK from the girls. (Though I’m not convinced that insisting that using a boyish name for a daughter is criminal.) Then again, Cary Grant aside, I suppose Cary is almost more solidly feminine today.

      1. I grew up with a boy named Cary and I’m also a huge Cary Grant fan so I could see using Cary for a boy today…Carol however I’m not so sure about. I’m not sure if it is “firmly rooted in the girls” but to me carols (as in christmas carols) and singing leads too much of a feminine air to the name. However, I’m all for using Carroll in the middle name spot.

      2. I grew up with brothers Casey and Cary. After the initial ‘oh, they’re boy’s names!’ they both are firmly masculine to me.

  9. Hmmm, it’s a thought isn’t it? I fear that in the English-speaking world, Carol is probably so firmly fixed in people’s minds as a girl’s name that most simply can’t entertain the idea of it used as a boy’s name. A shame — it’s a great name for boys or girls; a true “vintage” name for the latter. You’re right though, give it another couple of decades, and Carol will be back — though it will almost certainly be for girls.

    1. You might be right about that, Nook. My husband’s family is from Poland; I don’t have any cousins-in-law named Karol, but perhaps that’s why it still sounds masculine to me. I’ll have to ask if it is currently in vogue.