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Baby Name Trends: Gender Benders

jcrew

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.

Girls

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pinkblue

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:

Adi
Aidynn
Amadi

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A Boy Named Chelsea

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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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Unisex Names: Yes? No? Boy? Girl?

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Unisex names have been around forever, back to the era when Alice, Anne, Emma and Esmé were boys’ names that morphed over to the girls’ side, and Douglas and Clarence were female names.  In the sixties there were Jodys and Jamies of both genders, and now we have a whole new set of names popular for both boys and girls.

Some of  the unisex names on both current lists include:

The Question of the Week is:  Are any of these names among your faves, and if so, would they be used for a girl or a boy?

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1910boy

Do you love vintage names but want to move beyond the usual classics and Biblical choices?  We looked at the popularity lists of 1910 to uncover hundreds of vintage boys’ names that are no longer in use — but could be revived.

It’s odd that there seem to be more terminally-antiquated boys’ names from 1910 than girls’ names.  After all, girls’ names change more quickly and dramatically than do boys’, which tend to hinge more on tradition and less on fashion.

Yet beyond the Johns and Williams that have always predominated for boys (and still do today), there are dozens, even  hundreds of names that filled the Top 1000 list a hundred years ago and now are lost to time.

They include hero names, surname-names, nickname-names, androgynous names, and even regular old first names that few people seem to use any more.

Sure, some parents who love vintage names might revive Chester or Homer or Julius or Oswald.  But many of these popular names for boys in 1910 are rarely heard today

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