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Boys’ Names: A Walk on the Softer Side

July 8, 2009 Pamela Redmond

For a long time, as girls marched in masculine naming territory, appropriating such boys’ names as Blair and Blake, Avery and Riley, Peyton and Parker, the boys retreated to firmly male turf, reviving such classics as William and Henry, forging into new macho terrain with names like Hunter and Stone.

It was okay, the thinking went with names as with clothing, toys, and career aspirations, for girls to adopt masculine attributes, but not for boys to take up girlish things.

Now, though, something surprising has happened. Boys’ names are getting decidedly softer, with traditional choices that include sibilant sounds and vowel endings gaining in popularity, and parents reclaiming unisex names for their sons.

Why the switch? As a society, we’re becoming more comfortable with the blurring of gender roles and identity. The rise of gay marriage, full-time daddyhood, girl power and the metrosexual has made it more acceptable not only for girls to be a little bit butch, but for boys to be sweet, kind, sensitive, even pretty.

And to have pretty names to go along with their gentle new image. Some of the long-established boys’ names on the rise that incorporate a softer sound:

ADRIAN
ASA
ASHER
ATTICUS
AUGUST
AUSTIN
CHRISTIAN
DARIUS
DASHIELL
ELIAS
ELIJAH
ELLIOT
ETHAN
EVAN
EZRA
GABRIEL
ISAIAH
JASPER
JONAH
JOSHUA
JOSIAH
JUDAH
JULIAN
JUSTIN
LUCA
LUCAS
MICAH
NOAH
SEAN
TRAVIS
TRISTAN

More parents today are telling us they’re fine with choosing a name for their sons that’s also well-used for girls. Among the unisex names that parents are refusing to cede to the feminine side are:

ALEXIS
ARIEL
AVERY
BAILEY
BLAKE
BRETT
CAMERON
CARTER
CASEY
DAKOTA
DREW
DYLAN
EDEN
EMERSON
FINLEY
HARPER
HAYDEN
JALEN
JAMESON
JESSE
JORDAN
KAI
KENNEDY
KYLE
LANE
LONDON
MARLEY
PARKER
PEYTON
QUINN
RILEY
ROWAN
SKYLER
TAYLOR
ZION

What do you think of these softer boys’ names? Would you use one for your son? Let us know.

About the author

Pamela Redmond

Pamela Redmond is the cocreator and CEO of Nameberry. The coauthor of ten bestselling baby name books, Redmond is an internationally-recognized name expert, quoted and published widely in such media outlets as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The Today Show,, CNN, and the BBC. Redmond is also a New York Times bestselling novelist whose books include Younger, the basis for the hit television show, and its new sequel, Older.

View all of Pamela Redmond's articles

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