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Unisex Baby Names: Five new entries

posted by: bluejuniper View all posts by this author
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By Brooke Cussans, aka bluejuniper, of baby name pondering

Every year names move up and down, on and off the US Social Security Administration (SSA) charts of popular names. A name will appear on the charts if it has been given to more than four babies of one gender in that year. Usually when a name enters the lists, it enters for one gender first and takes some time to chart for the other one (if it ever does).

Take the now unisex name Cameo for example. Cameo first entered the girls chart in 1957. But it wasn’t until 1979 – more than 20 years later – that it started to chart for boys too. It also charts more irregularly for boys than it does for girls.

So it’s fair to say that it takes quite a special name to simultaneously enter both the boys and the girls charts for the first time in the same year. There is something about it that has captured the imagination of parents, who think it has a sound and feel that could work for either gender.

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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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