Boy Names for Girls Reach New Heights
Then there are the newer names crossing the gender divide toward the girls’ side. These may still be more widely used for boys but have now moved into the Top 1000 for girls: Parker, Sawyer, Logan, Carter, Cameron, Ryan, Lennox and Ezra, to name but a few.
More obscure than these – but far more newsworthy – are the boy names below the Top 1000 that are being used for sizeable numbers of girls.
We don’t mean word names like Rebel and Timber that are not intrinsically gendered, or unisex nicknames such as Billie and Andie that have long been used for girls, or established nonbinary names such as Rowan or Robin.
We’re talking about traditional boy names that are being used, in some cases, for literally hundreds of baby girls.
Traditional Boy Names for Girls
Most fascinating are those gender-shifting names that have been predominantly – or sometimes exclusively – used for boys since Biblical or Roman times… or at least since 1880, when detailed US baby name records began.
In a few cases, there are powerful celebrity influences nudging these boys’ names girlward, such as Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds naming their first daughter James or Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher naming their little girl Wyatt.
Others are moving along the gender spectrum due to their on-trend sound or style, like Gianni, which has been boosted by the recent popularity of Gianna and related names, or Wesley, with its fashionable -ley ending.
Names are given together with the number of girls registered in 2021, the latest year on record.
Modern Boy Names for Girls
The next group are names that have only become widely used for either sex in recent decades. You might correctly argue that these newer names are less tied to any one gender, but until very recently they have been given mostly to boys.
This list includes surname names, since it's difficult to know whether to define choices like Ashton and Grayson as surnames or names. It also includes mythological names that are technically ancient, but only widely used for babies in recent years.
One particularly striking example is Jupiter: the king of the gods in Roman mythology, but now more than twice as popular for baby girls than for boys, thanks to its similarity to the fashionable Juniper. We expect it to rise still further for girls when the 2021 data is released, since actor Ashley Tisdale chose Jupiter for her daughter in March last year.
Unique Boy Names for Girls
If you go below 20 births, you'll find plenty of boy names given to a handful of baby girls. There were reportedly 15 American girls named Henry in 2021, along with ten each named David or Graham, eight named Theodore and five named Lucas.
But to give you an idea of how rare that is, there were roughly the same number of baby girls called Luxury and Tsunami... or boys called Amelia and Penelope.
Plus, due to administrative errors, at least some of the female Henrys and male Penelopes are likely to really be boys or girls whose births were miscoded in the records.
So what does this mean, in the larger sense? We don’t foresee Gianni and Atlas becoming the Addison and Madison of the future, or even advocate that parents of girls rush over to the boys’ list to find fresh and edgy names for their daughters.
But the growing numbers behind this phenomenon demonstrate that gender is becoming as fluid a concept with names as it is in other areas of life. However, it will take hundreds of parents naming their sons Sarah and Serena for us to achieve true gender parity.