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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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Unisex Names: Yes? No? Boy? Girl?

name-finlay

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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macho

Boy names have undergone a radical shift over the past few decades, with the old stalwart names like James and Robert making room for a whole army of new choices that break the traditional masculine mold.

The trendiest boy names are not exactly feminine, or even androgynous, but are decidedly male names that nevertheless don’t hail from conventional masculine roots. We mean the two-syllable, surname-sounding names like Caden and Brody, Logan and Landon.

Many parents seem more willing than they might have been before to bestow upon their sons unisex names also well-used for girls: Peyton, Jordan, Taylor, Sasha.

Then there are the more traditional names, but with softer sounds — vowel endings, the sibilant s or sh — usually associated with girls’ names. The most popular of these include Joshua and Noah, Asher and Isaiah.

Another branch of the new baby boy names are macho names that also break ranks with traditional masculinity: Breaker and Ryker, Harley and Ace.

What we’re interested in is your view of masculinity as evidenced by these changing boys’ names.

Do you think the change in names is evidence of a deeper change in the way we think of boys, of masculinity, of what we want for our sons growing up?

How did your own views of masculinity play into the name you chose for your son, or a name you might pick in the future?

Would you give your son a name that was also used for girls — why or why not? Would you want a traditional boys’ name or look for one that broke the masculine mold — again, why and why not?

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boyflowers

For a long time, as girls marched in masculine naming territory, appropriating such boys’ names as Blair and Blake, Avery and Riley, Peyton and Parker, the boys retreated to firmly male turf, reviving such classics as William and Henry, forging into new macho terrain with names like Hunter and Stone.

It was okay, the thinking went with names as with clothing, toys, and career aspirations, for girls to adopt masculine attributes, but not for boys to take up girlish things.

Now, though, something surprising has happened. Boys’ names are getting decidedly softer, with traditional choices that include sibilant sounds and vowel endings gaining in popularity, and parents reclaiming unisex names for their sons.

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