Category: unisex names for girls
On a recent trip through the South, I met two young sisters charmingly named Mason and Ellis. Surname-names for girls are characteristic of the traditional South, where family last names have long been passed down as firsts to girls as well as boys.
Little girls might well have a conventional first name like Mary or Elizabeth, but their full name is Mary Ellis (say) and they’re known as Ellis. The Mary or the Elizabeth might be mom and/or grandmother’s name; it’s the Ellis part that makes the name distinct.
Of course, surname-names are used for girls in many places beyond the American South these days, though not everyone likes the practice. Boys’ names should be left to the boys, some feel, and girls’ names should be decidedly feminine, and unisex names are all-around unappealing.
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.
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:
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?