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Boy Names for Girls & New Names for Boys

October 5, 2014 Abby Sandel

By Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain

Once again, a famous couple has chosen a favorite boy’s name for their newborn daughter.  Last Thursday, Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher welcomed Wyatt Isabelle.

Some parents of baby boy Wyatts are nervous.  Will Wyatt go girl?  Others who had shortlisted Wyatt for a possible child someday might be rethinking.  No one wants to introduce their child and have another mom respond, “Oh, like Ashton and Mila’s baby?”

The kerfuffle reminds me of singer Michelle Branch.  In 2005, at the height of her success, she married her bass player and had a daughter called Owen Isabelle.  Owen remained a Top 100 choice for boys in the US – gaining more than 20 places since – and is barely a blip for girls.

Jessica Simpson’s Maxwell arrived in 2012 – one of 8 baby girl Maxwells, compared to 3,211 boys.  In 2013, there were more than three times as many girls called Maxwell – but that’s still just 26 arrivals.  Meanwhile, 3,607 boys received the name.

The good news?  It takes a lot more than a celebrity baby to change our perceptions of a name’s gender.

At the peak of popularity, many a masculine favorite – think Logan, Ryan, Dylan – ends up on some girls’ birth certificates.  But once a name is solidly established for our sons, it’s just that – a boy’s name given to a girl.

Dig a little deeper, and there’s good news in this week’s high profile baby names.  Three new arrivals have names that are both masculine and original.

While a musical couple went the same route as Mila and Ashton, other families took a more conventional approach to naming a girl.  One choice is vintage, the other modern – but both feel like the right choices for 2014.

The nine most interesting baby names in the news this week are:

Sienna May – Actress Ellen Pompeo is best known as Meredith Grey on long-running medical drama Grey’s Anatomy.  Now she and husband Chris Ivery have welcomed a second daughter.  Big sister Stella Luna is joined by Sienna May.  Stella is a vintage pick, a nineteenth and early twentieth century name returned to favor in the last decade.  Sienna is a newcomer, seldom heard before the 1990s.  Despite this difference, together they sound like sisters.

Stella June – Speaking of Stella, it’s the name chosen by Holly Williams and Chris Coleman for their firstborn.  Country singer Holly is the daughter of Hank Williams, Jr., and husband Chris is also a musician.  The couple stuck with names from their family tree – and yet Stella June is so on-trend, you can imagine many families choosing it for style alone.

Wyatt Isabelle – No word on why Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis went with Wyatt for their daughter’s first name.  It’s a Top 100 choice since 2004, a rugged, all-boy favorite, thanks to legendary lawman of the American West, Wyatt Earp.  The classic Isabelle anchors Wyatt nicely, making it clear(ish) that it is Miss Kutcher, thankyouverymuch.  Wyatt joins dozens of Hollywood babes with gender-bending names, like Kelsey Grammer’s Mason Olivia and Jason Lee’s Casper Alice.

Devon Olivia – The Kunis-Kutcher family wasn’t the only one to borrow from the boys this week.  Rascal Flatts’ guitarist Joe Don Rooney – yes, that’s his real name – and wife Tiffany Fallon are now the parents of three: son Jagger Donovan, daughter Raquel Blue, and newest addition, daughter Devon Olivia.  File Devon with Ryan and Logan – names that have always been more popular for boys, even though a sizeable number of girls have worn the name.

Lennon – Here’s the next Devon.  My Name is Pabst featured a musician’s kid called Lennon.  Just like most bearers of the name, this Lennon is a boy.  But the number of girls named Lennon is growing, possibly thanks to the musical Lennon Stella, a young actress currently appearing as Maddie Conrad on Nashville.

Chester William – Looking for names that are all-boy and not likely to be heard on a girl?  Take the approach used by UK television presenter Holly Willoughby.  Holly and husband Dan Baldwin are parents of three: Belle, Harry, and newborn Chester William.  It’s a clunky-cool name, one that Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson gave to their son way back in 1990.  Jazzy nickname Chet makes this one even more wearable.

Fletcher – Thanks to Waltzing More than Matilda for sharing this piece of Aussie celebrity name news.  Cricket player Ricky Ponting and wife Rianna also welcomed their third child recently.  Big sisters Emmy and Matisse are joined by Fletcher.  Like Archer and Arrow, Fletcher is another name borrowed from archery, from the Old French word fleche – arrow.  This one feels preppy and buttoned-down, but new and unexpected, too.

Fordham Rhys – Along the same lines, there’s surname name Fordham.  Bachelorette alum Ashley Hebert and husband J.P. Rosenbaum met on the reality matchmaking show, and have now welcomed their first child, Fordham Rhys.  New York’s Fordham University lends this choice a certain collegiate style. Chances are the name will be shortened to Ford – another all-boy choice.

Beckham Ellis James – Speaking of surname names, Beckham Ellis James appeared on the September Babyberry Report.  Liam, Fordham, Beckham, Graham, Adam, Abraham, and Abram – is ‘am’ the new ‘en’?  Maybe not, but seeing these two names together is a good reminder that there are fresh and interesting possibilities for our sons – we just have to find them.

What do you think of the tendency to use boys’ names for girls?  And do you think it is pushing parents to find newer, different names for boys?  

About the author

Abby

Abby Sandel is nameberry's Senior Editor and resident Name Sage. Look for her baby name news round-ups every Monday, and her Name Sage columns on Wednesdays. Abby is the creator of the baby name blog Appellation Mountain and mom to Alex and Clio. For a chance to have your questions answered, contact Abby at namesage@nameberry.com.

View all of Abby's articles

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