America's Top Unisex Names of 2020
Want to know the most popular unisex baby names? We’ve crunched the numbers for you.
Our definition of a unisex name is one that’s used for both girls and boys with a split of at least 90-10. (For the most popular names, there are always a few opposites recorded, like the 17 boys called Emma and 13 girls called William in 2020. But it’s not particularly accurate or helpful to call them unisex, when the balance is so overwhelmingly towards one gender.)
These names cover a range of styles: surnames, place names, nicknames, nature and virtuous word names. What unites them is that they are (mostly) modern names that have only seen significant use in the last few decades. There are very few grandparents of any gender named Riley, Justice or Kendall yet. Unlike Emma and William, they don’t have centuries of association with one gender.
Mostly. Some old, established names, like Ryan and Rory, have been used enough for the non-traditional gender that they now count as unisex names. Others have different cultural uses, and even different pronunciations, depending on whether they’re a girl or boy name, such as Ali and Angel.
Read on for our chart of the most popular unisex names in the US in 2020, based on national data. They are listed in order of the total number of children given each name. (With thanks to Sophie Kihm for analyzing the data!)
Top 10 Unisex Names of 2020
The most popular unisex names in the US give examples of some of the biggest trends. Avery, the top name, has several common features of unisex names: it has history as a surname, a gender-neutral “ee” ending, and sounds similar to popular girl and boy names, like Ava and Aiden.
The Top 10 shows us the most common unisex occupational names (Parker and Sawyer), nature names (River and Rowan), and Irish and Scottish names (Ryan and Cameron).
The top two names, Avery and Riley, are used more for girls, and the other eight lean more boy. The most gender-neutral names in the Top 10 are Parker and River, which have a 35-65 girl-boy split.
The line-up is almost exactly the same as in 2019. The only change is that Cameron is now on the list, whereas in 2019 it was not given to quite enough girls to make the 90-10 split criteria. It bumps everything else down, and knocks Charlie out of the Top 10.
Unisex Name Trends
Looking further down the Top 100 unisex names (listed further below), here are a few trends in sound and meaning that you may notice.
R names rule
R is the most common initial in the Top 100, heading up 14 popular unisex names: Reece, Reese, Reign, Remi, Remington, Remy, Riley, River, Rory, Rowan, Rowen, Royal, Ryan, and Rylan.
Y and N endings
Over half the Top 100 names end in either an “ee” sound (like Charlie and Emory), or an N (like Sutton and Reign). These clearly hold sway as gender-neutral endings, whereas the less common end sounds of Monroe and Sterling make them more distinctive.
What parents value
The most popular unisex names give a snapshot into what’s important for the people who chose them.
The most obvious are the English word names, which show we seek connection both with nature (Aspen, Sage, Wren) and with all that is noble, powerful and enduring (Royal, Justice, Legacy). Some parents like the cool association with places (Dakota, Memphis), others with luxury brands (Armani, Dior). There are names with close links to music heroes (Lennon, Santana), and others with a strong dash of the modern Christian trend (Shiloh, Salem).
Top 100 Unisex Names of 2020
In 2020, Bellamy, Kingsley and Santana rose into the unisex Top 100. Cameron, Keegan, Baker and Mckinley also entered the list, because the previous year they were not given to enough girls (for Mckinley, to enough boys) to make the 90-10 split for unisex names.
These names replaced Henley, Jessie, Landyn, Cadence, Sloan, Jaylen and Noa. This year Jaylen and Noa were not gender-balanced enough to count as unisex names.
The fastest-rising names in the Top 100 were hot surname Bellamy, which climbed 22 places (and also had the most even gender split), followed by Gianni, Kingsley and Salem. The biggest drops were from Jamie, Noel and Rowen.
By neat chance, exactly half the names in the Top 100 were used more for girls, and half for boys.
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