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Category: androgynous boy names

rainbowhat

Unisex names and the question of whether a child’s gender should be evident via his or her name is one that comes up frequently on Nameberry.  It’s an issue that’s changed a lot over the years we’ve been writing about baby names and that varies substantially in different cultures.

Starting with the baby boomlet of the 1980s, the first wave of feminist parents gave girls androgynous names like Morgan and Parker to make them more competitive with boys…..while parents of boys abandoned unisex names in favor of more traditional masculine choices.   Next came names that broke away from traditional boy or girl choices — Logan and Lake, Bellamy and Finn — but still somehow held onto a gendered identity.

Despite vast changes in naming practices around the world, some ancient cultures accommodate names that work for either sex — Japan is a notable example — while other countries such as Norway require that names carry gender identity.  Germany changed its naming laws in 2008 to allow the use of unisex names.

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abby-blur

This week, Appellation Mountain’s Abby Sandel ventures into the blurry grey area of  newly discovered gender-neutral names.

It’s official! America’s favorite names are Charlotte and James. The top names for 2011 in Sweden? Alice and William. They’re classic appellations, at home across the centuries and in many languages.

They’re also clearly gendered. With apologies to Mr. Cooper, it is difficult to imagine a boy named Alice, and while actor James Marsden has a daughter called Mary James, it is tough to imagine picking James for a daughter’s first name.

Or is it? At first, it is easy to draw clear lines. Evan is a boy’s name, but Evelyn is meant for a girl. Nicola is feminine, of course, while Jordan was shamelessly stolen from our sons.

While we all have our own impressions, it often turns out that the line is blurry, or even non-existent, for many a name. This week’s top nine illustrate that uncertainty.

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