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Category: names used for both sexes

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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