The New Generation of Boys’ Names

Gender identity takes a turn for the middle

By Pamela Redmond

Many of today’s most fashionable boys’ names carry a gender identity that’s decidedly masculine but not conventionally so, softer than macho but stronger than unisex. These boys’ names fall right in the middle on the gender scale, in contrast to their stylish female counterparts, which tend to be ultra-feminine (Arabella, Ophelia) or frankly boyish (Hayden, Frankie).

Many of these hot new boys’ names carry sounds that are soft and/or traditionally connected to girls’ names, such as vowel endings, and so depart from the classic male names once dominant. These stylish boys’ names with a fresh gender identity include:

Ronan, Roman, and Rowen

Don’t try to say these three names together fast unless you’re in the mood for a tongue twister. They all start with “Ro,” have two syllables and end in “N,” so they’re easily confused with one another. Yet they each have their own special cast. The resemblance to ronin, a kind of Japanese warrior, gives Ronan a slightly military feel. Roman -- the only one to crack the Top 100 -- is artsy but solid. And Rowen, meaning redhead, is dreamy, Celtic, and the only real unisex name – usually spelled as Rowan – of the three.

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