Category: girls’ names for boys

Girls’ Name? Boys’ Name? Who Cares?

unisex baby names

by Pamela Redmond Satran

When we named Post-Gender Baby Names as our Number 1 trend for 2016, we were mostly just guessing. Oh sure, the guess was backed up by some strong cultural trends, from marriage equality to trans recognition, as well as a raft of celebrity baby names.

But when The New York Times asked us whether we could back up the trend with, you know, actual statistics, we weren’t entirely positive what we’d find. Baby name prognosticating is as tricky as any other kind of forecasting, relying as much on instinct as on science. Our gut told us that baby names that defied gender categories were on the rise for both girls and boys. But would the numbers bear that out?

Our discovery, as reported in today’s New York Times by Alex Williams: The number of babies with truly unisex names — those most evenly split between the sexes  —  has exploded in the past ten years.  And boys are getting these post-gender names as often as girls, with 60 percent more babies getting gender-neutral names in 2015 than in 2005.

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unisex names equality

By Kasey Edwards

This article first appeared on Daily Life and is reprinted with the author’s kind permission.

It used to just be one of those quirks reserved for the parents of future celebrities such as Cameron Diaz, Reese Witherspoon, Drew Barrymore, Taylor Swift, Hayden Panettiere and Blake Lively, but now giving baby girls a traditional boy name is on trend.

There are even websites such as 100+ Traditionally Boy Names Perfect For a Baby Girl to help new parents with their choice.

Evelyn, Mackenzie, Billie, Frankie, Addison, Tyler, Dylan, Jordan, Luca, Alex and Charlie now pepper the most popular girls’ names lists for last year in Australia.

While some of these are now accepted as girls’ names, they all started out as male names.

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family names

Let’s say right up front that we don’t advise naming your daughter Davette to honor Grandpa Dave, or any of the other similarly awkward cross-gender namesake names.

So how do you, did you, can you best choose a name for your baby that honors a relative or friend or hero of the opposite gender?

Some parents simply use the name, as Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard did when they named their daughter Lincoln or several celebrities recently have in giving their daughters the middle name James.  But this cross-gender appropriation happens most often when giving male names to girls, which may be inherently sexist — though even the most feminist parent may stop short of naming a son Mary or Patricia, even in the middle place.

So what do you do then, use the name Patrick?  Or choose a name that’s more conventionally gender-identified that starts with the same first letter?  Or maybe appropriate Grandma Mary‘s maiden name as a first?

There are all kinds of ways of approaches and beliefs on this subject, and we’d like to hear yours.

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unisex baby names

by Pamela Redmond Satran

Some unisex baby names start as female choices and shift over time to become more boyish, but many more begin as all-boy names and over the decades cross to the girls’ side.

The baby names here are extreme cases.  Most started life, back when the US government began recording babies’ names, as 100% male choices, and now have become mostly girls’ names.

While we were tempted to narrow the field to only those dozen names that went from 100% male to 100% female, the entire list proved just too interesting to cut.

The baby names that have morphed from blue to pink – and when they made their big switch – include:

Addison

100% male in 1880, 98% female in 2012

Jumped to 55% female in 1996

Alexis

100% male in 1882, 77% female in 2012

In 1942, Alexis leaped to 69% female from 42%

Allison

100% male in 1880, 100% female in 2012

From 1942-1948 it jumped from 52% to 80% female

Ashley

100% male in 1880, 100% female in 2012

Crossed the line in 1965 to become 64% female

Aubrey

100% male in 1880, 98% female in 2012

In 1974, tipped to 52% female

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unisex names

Unisex names most popular among Nameberry’s visitors include those that lean girlward and those more favored for boys.  To qualify as a unisex name for this list, a name needs to be given to at least 10 percent of the minority gender.

Check out the graphic on our new Unisex Names home page to get more specific statistics on how these names divide along gender lines.  Our Number 1 unisex name Quinn, for instance, is now 68 percent female, a dramatic swing toward the girls’ side thanks to its starring role on television’s Glee.  Number 2 Rowan, meanwhile, is 63 percent male.

Names such as Sawyer and Kai are predominantly male, edging toward our 90% cutoff, while choices such as Avery and Emery are more than 80% female.

This is a fascinating list, including names such as Charlie and Elliot that were long traditional male names and other choices such as Reese (Witherspoon) and Peyton (Manning) that are heavily identified with celebrities of one gender but are still used for babies of the other.

If you’re interested in these or other unisex names for your baby, be sure to check the gender progression over time on the chart on our Unisex Names page.

The Top 20 Unisex Names so far this year on Nameberry are:

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