Category: girls’ names for boys

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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Top Unisex Names 2011

This year for the first time we’ve calculated a list of top unisex names 2011: names listed on Nameberry for both genders that are winning the highest number of page views.

Unisex name popularity is always tricky: Aren‘t most parents searching for top names Harper and Quinn interested in those names for girls?  We believe they are, and if those two names were counted in the girls’ tally, they’d rank among the Top 20.

But in fact, some parents are interested in Harper and Quinn as boys’ names, and many of the other names on this list — Sawyer, Rory, and Riley, say — may be considered equally for both genders, while choices such as Parker or River may be used more often for boys.

Here are the top unisex names 2011 on Nameberry.

Nameberry’s Top 25 Unisex Names, 2011

moving up quickly

1. Harper
2. Quinn
3. Rowan
4. Avery
5. Sawyer

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Baby Name Trends: Gender Benders

Kids who defy gender stereotypes – and how best to parent them – is a hot topic these days.  The New York Times recently featured a story on boys in tutus and girls with Mohawks on its front page.  And when the J. Crew catalog carried a photo spread of its fashion director painting her 4-year-old son’s toenails pink, it sparked an outpouring of both criticism and support.

Whatever your feeling about pedicures for boys, names that push the gender envelope are among the hottest baby name trends.  The most recent statistics on names making the biggest leaps up the popularity ladder show names that break with both feminine and masculine conventions leading the lists.

For both sexes, these include truly unisex names such as Quinn and Karter and names long favored for one sex jumping gender lines (Charlie going to the girls’ side and Terry to the boys’).   There are also girlish spins on boys’ names and vice versa, such as Danna and Jayleen for girls and Rhys and Emmett for boys.

And then there are the names that are used almost exclusively for one gender but carry qualities usually associated with the other: I’m thinking of the hard-edged Kinley or Kenzie for girls and the soft-sounding Greyson and Jasper for boys.

Here, 20 gender-bending names that crowd the tops of the fastest-rising lists for both girls and boys, in order of how many places they’ve moved up the ladder.


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Unisex baby names, meaning those that are used for both boys and girls, are not always that equal. Some of the most popular are heavily weighted toward one gender or the other: Emerson is 61 percent girls and 39 percent boys, for instance, while Rowan is the other way around. Other names are skewed depending on spelling: Jadin is 66% boys, while Jadyn is 71% girls.

Still other unisex baby names may veer in a new direction because of a pop culture influence. Quinn, while 68% boys right now, we expect to rise dramatically for girls thanks to the attractive female character on Glee.

But there are some baby names that are truly unisex, given to half boys and half girls. Many of these are somewhat obscure names, or unusual spelling variations of more popular names. We’ve left off the less usable examples (Dacoda, Oluwadamilola) but if your main aim is absolute parity, here are some unisex baby names split 50-50 between boys and girls:


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A Boy Named Chelsea

This guest blog by a guy named Chelsea lets us in on his gender-bender life experiences.

There’s nothing that unusual about being named after a place, except when that place name becomes one of the more popular names for girls during the 1990’s and you are a boy. That’s what happened to me. My name is Chelsea and I am a guy.

I was named after the area in London, England, for sentimental reasons.  My family was about to leave the country just after I was born and weren’t sure if they would ever return. While other names like Bradley, Gary and Kieran were considered, Chelsea, a section of London for which my mother had a particular fondness, won the day. She knew it was a girl’s name, since that was what it was listed under in her book of names, but Chelsea was rarely used back then, particularly in England, and didn’t rank in the top 100 names for girls in the year I was born. She didn’t tell my father about it being listed as a girl’s name though and instead sold it to him on the basis of a link to the famous football/soccer club which seemed masculine enough.

People often ask me what it was like growing up with a girl’s name, but I didn’t even know that I had one until I was seven, so the impact until then was minimal. We were living in France, where Chelsea was even less heard of, and to everyone there I was just a guy with an unusual and hard to pronounce name, as they stumbled over whether it should be a hard or soft “ch” sound and whether the –sea at the end was like the ocean or “see-ah.” Most people called me Chels or Shels, which was a nickname that generally stuck. As for finding out about my having a girl’s name, that happened on a school trip where an American teacher there, but not from our school, assigned me to an all-girl’s group. At that age, this was a rude awakening and led to a fair amount of teasing after the trip too.

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