Was Florence Originally A Boy's Or A Girl's Name?


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Will Martin answered
This name is now only ever given to girls, but in the Middle Ages was usually a boy's name. There was a historian of that name, for instance, and even in the early 19th century Mary Shelley (author of Frankenstein) gave it to her son Percy for his middle name. It is often thought to be based on the Italian city of Florence, but in fact the English name for this city (Firenze in Italian) and the given name Florence are both derived from the Latin adjective Florens ("blooming or flourishing.") From this came the boy's name Florentius and its feminine form Florentia, which in English by medieval times had become Florence.

Florence became popular for girls due to the fame of Victorian nurse Florence Nightingale (who was actually named after the city.) It is now regarded as old-fashioned. Short forms include Florrie, Flo and Flossie.

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