Top Unisex Names 2011

This year for the first time we’ve calculated a list of top unisex names 2011: names listed on Nameberry for both genders that are winning the highest number of page views.

Unisex name popularity is always tricky: Aren‘t most parents searching for top names Harper and Quinn interested in those names for girls?  We believe they are, and if those two names were counted in the girls’ tally, they’d rank among the Top 20.

But in fact, some parents are interested in Harper and Quinn as boys’ names, and many of the other names on this list — Sawyer, Rory, and Riley, say — may be considered equally for both genders, while choices such as Parker or River may be used more often for boys.

Here are the top unisex names 2011 on Nameberry.

Nameberry’s Top 25 Unisex Names, 2011

moving up quickly

1. Harper
2. Quinn
3. Rowan
4. Avery
5. Sawyer
6. Rory
7. Riley
8. Emerson
9. Finley
10. Dylan
11. Luca
12. Micah
13. Sasha
14. Emery
15. Nico
16. Peyton
17. Remy
18. Blake
19. Aubrey
20. Sage
21. Parker
22. Carter
23. River
24. Teagan
25. Cameron

Don‘t forget to guess #101 on the boys’ and girls’ popularity lists in the Comments section of the past two days’ blogs on Nameberry for a chance to win a signed copy of our book Beyond Ava & Aiden!

*UPDATE!  Unfortunately no one guessed our #101 for girls, which is Isadora.  Two people guessed the boys’ #101, Griffin.  Congratulations!

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32 Responses to “Top Unisex Names 2011”

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Nyx Says:

December 29th, 2011 at 3:08 am

Skyler / Skylar or Jaden / Jayden would be my top guesses for #26. Does this list include only those names that are popular for either gender reguardless
of spelling? Or does it just include the most popular spelling of a name?

UniqueNameLover Says:

December 29th, 2011 at 4:41 am

I don’t particularly care for unisex names. Most of the names are really boys names that don’t work all that well on boys. Ex: Dylan, Rowan, Sawyer, and even Emerson.

emilymaryjane Says:

December 29th, 2011 at 5:50 am

I’m in love with skyler and avery 4 grls

emilymaryjane Says:

December 29th, 2011 at 5:51 am

I forgot 2 say Sasha is my fave on the list 4 grls don’t care 4 the others

emilymaryjane Says:

December 29th, 2011 at 5:52 am

Also forgot 2 say a friend has the middle name Quinn

Lola Says:

December 29th, 2011 at 9:44 am

Remy’s gone unisex? Horrors! He’s our #2 boy name. I’d feel sorry for a girl “oarsman” too. To the point, I’d probably say something: “Oh, too bad you’ve got a boy name”. Yep.
Otherwise, I’m no big fan of unisex names. Life’s confusing enough, why make people guess?

agirlinred Says:

December 29th, 2011 at 9:53 am

I had no idea Remy was a boy’s name until a few years ago. I’ve grown up with a girl named Remy. These all feel more like boys’ names to me.

pam Says:

December 29th, 2011 at 10:02 am

You make a good point, a agirlinred (and others too): So much of the gender identity of these names depends on people you actually know who have them. I know a lovely little girl named Remi and so that name feels feminine to me, and my daughter’s name is Rory so again, feminine. But I know boys named Emerson, Dylan, and Cameron and so those names might feel more boyish to me than to some others.

kyemsma Says:

December 29th, 2011 at 10:44 am

Phew! I was happy that my son’s name, Kyle, was not on the list! I know there are some girls named Kyle, but the name is all boy to me!

atlaskatarzyna Says:

December 29th, 2011 at 11:46 am

These are not unisex names, they are BOYS names.

pixiewoo Says:

December 29th, 2011 at 1:13 pm

I am a fan of unisex names. I like about half of the names listed. Luca being one of my top names for either gender. Im torn though on if its going to be viewed in mainstream as a boy or girl name. I know most nameberries will say its all boy for the point of keeping the name on the boys side, but the big question is how will society view it, boy or girl? Would love Pam’s thoughts. At this point Im guessing its neutral since its not popular, it just sounds italian.

pixiewoo Says:

December 29th, 2011 at 1:15 pm

Forgot to add, that I guess my big question is can a girl pull off having Luca as a name?

pam Says:

December 29th, 2011 at 1:38 pm

Hi Pixiewoo — Luca is a strange case, as it’s all boy in Europe — right, Euroberries? — but in the U.S., where it’s relatively unknown, people relate to it based on its sound and feel which are quite female, with the vowel ending and the Lucy-like beginning. I definitely think an American girl could get away with being called Luca without anyone batting an eyelash, but if she moves to Germany, people may look at her as if she’s named Matthew or Frederick.

It really is hard to parse these names. I was tempted to classify Harper and Quinn with the girls and they are certainly much more popular among berries for girls than for boys. But they are used for and searched for both sexes, and the way our database is set up, a search for Harper shows up in the final tally without a gender attached.

Nyx Says:

December 29th, 2011 at 2:52 pm

I’m on the west coast (USA), and if I saw/heard the name Luca, I would assume it belonged to a male. While it’s true that Luca ends with the more feminine “ah” sound, that doesn’t make it sound feminine to me (any more then names like Micah or Joshua). Just another opinion 🙂

miloowen Says:

December 29th, 2011 at 4:54 pm

I have to say that I really hate unisex names, probably because I’ve been saddled with one all my life. My own kids have traditionally gendered names for that very reason. I always identified with boys as a child because nobody ever acknowledged that it was okay for girls to climb trees, run around like a crazy person, be adventurous and smart and good at sports. Now that’s no big deal, but I just assumed that since I had a boy’s name, I should have been a boy. It took me a long time to get my gender straightened out that suited me and am now comfortable in my own skin at 54.

Luca is the Italian version of Luke. Luke was an apostle. When a name exists because the historical personage was male, how can you say it’s unisex? Micah, Luca, Noah, Ezra — these are historical personages. Just because a name ends in the “ah” or “y” sound doesn’t make it female.

I think some of the tradesman/guild names can be considered genuinely neutral because even though historically they may have started out as “male” occupations, anyone can perform them today, so Sawyer, Chandler, Smith, Wheeler, etc. could go either way. But the son of names are a little silly on a girl.

Of course, it will turn around that my first grandchild will have a unisex name! (Although currently my son favours Alexander and Beatrice. My daughter doesn’t discuss it because “you’re too opinionated, Mom.”)

pam Says:

December 29th, 2011 at 4:57 pm

Milo Owen, I think you should write a guest blog for us on your experiences with this! Opinionated might not be a good thing where daughters are concerned, but it’s very good for bloggers!

R_J Says:

December 29th, 2011 at 6:50 pm

It’s a shame that unisex names are essentially boys’ names given to girls. It should go the other way as well (and more often). If not, we are sending clear gender messages to our children about which gender is valued more.

Stepping off my soapbox, I love the name Sage. 🙂

Nyx Says:

December 29th, 2011 at 8:44 pm

@R_J – Here here! I completely agree with you. Maybe that is part of the reason that I love the idea of Chelsea being used as a masculine name… It goes the opposite direction taking a feminine name and using it as a masculine name.

ferntailwp Says:

December 29th, 2011 at 8:58 pm

I love unisex names, but a lot of them on this list don’t feel so unisex to me. Sasha is a girl’s name, imo. I always associate it with an extremely foxy lady, in fact. Rowan is very masculine to me too, I couldn’t imagine it on a girl! Maybe if it were Roan (which I don’t even like), maybe, but definitely not Rowan. Luca is decidedly masculine to me, and I’m from the Midwest US. Nico is masculine, Neko is feminine. Sigh. Really I do love unisex names, whether it sounds like it or not. I have a female OC named Spencer, but at the same time I have a male named Rowan and would be astonished at it on a girl.

On another note, I find that a lot of unisex names have much different feels on a guy vs a girl. Quinn is a bit geeky on a girl while on a guy its edgier and the opposite is true for Spencer. Dylan seems average, but not in a bad way, on a guy and a bit spunkier on a girl. River for a boy seem harsh with the tough ‘Rrr’ coming out at the beginning and end, but on a girl it feels more like a nature or ‘hippy’ name. It would be interesting to read a whole blog on this sort of thing, I think.

Nyx Says:

December 30th, 2011 at 1:50 am

@ferntail – I find it funny that you regulate Sasha to the all girls list and Rowan to the all boys list, as the latest Sasha I met was a little boy and my son has a female Rowan in his second grade class. As Pam pointed out earlier, it really does change you’re perspective when you’ve know somebody with the name in a certain gender.

When I was a kid, I babysat for a family that had a boy named Kelly. Now my sister’s name is Kelly, and I never really cared too much for it. However, seeing it as a boy’s name, and all of a sudden I was swooning over it.

zara-b Says:

December 30th, 2011 at 4:28 am

I found viewing this list thoroughly depressing, as my two son’s names are included here – Luca and Remy – which are all boy to me. When I hear of parents giving these names to a daughter, I assume they’re culturally ignorant, as both Luca and Remy are considered very masculine names in Italy and France respectively, and I just can’t take either name seriously on a girl. I have a nephew named Micah and can’t imagine that name on a girl either… My sister’s name is Sascha, and that would be the only name on this list that I’d consider truly unisex, though I prefer the Sasha spelling for a male and Sascha for a female. I would love to know where each of these names sits on the boy/girl lists as well – would it be possible to see these numbers in brackets next to the list above?

Sassy Says:

December 30th, 2011 at 3:43 pm

Most of these names scream boy to me but as was said before it depends on whether you know someone with that name. I know a little Avery so that name is very girl to me but for the most part I would use these names for boys and not girls.

Chelspa Says:

December 31st, 2011 at 1:14 am

@Nyx – It would be great to see more male Chelsea’s, if only to show that a little used (male) name that became popular for girls could go back to the boys. But I don’t see it really becoming used much for boys until at least another 1-2 generations as there would be too many mom and Aunt’s out there named chelsea now.

I agree with the comment about how your perception of a name can be changed by people too. Despite the River Phoenix connection, I have a stronger association of the name River to River Song in Doctor Who and so that feels more feminine to me now.

Overall I think this is a good list that is fairly well balanced for definite could be unisex names. To zara-b I looked up the rankings for boy and girl in the US for the list and have posted them below.

1. Harper b=689 / g=119
2. Quinn b=276 / g=253
3. Rowan b=326 / g=493
4. Avery b=210 / g=23
5. Sawyer b=173 / g=781
6. Rory b=750 / g=not ranked in top 1000
7. Riley b=105 / g=40
8. Emerson b=432 / g=315
9. Finley b=597 / g=408
10. Dylan b=31 / g=751
11. Luca b=272 / g=not ranked in top 1000
12. Micah b=108 / g=842
13. Sasha b=not ranked in top 1000 / g=344
14. Emery b=738 / g=312
15. Nico b=591 / g=not ranked in top 1000
16. Peyton b=149 / g=51
17. Remy b=871 / g=not ranked in top 1000
18. Blake b=87 / g=not ranked in top 1000
19. Aubrey b=not ranked in top 1000 / g=44
20. Sage b 810 / g=471
21. Parker b=86 / g=465
22. Carter b=48 / g=not ranked in top 1000
23. River b=436 / g=969
24. Teagan b=688 / g=242
25. Cameron b=60 / g=415

The only one for boys that I think is verging on less usable is Avery. A combination of a high ranking for girls makes it more likely a boy would know girls with the same name and then the ratio of more than 4-1 girls to boys makes it that more of a “girl’s” name.

pam Says:

January 1st, 2012 at 3:06 am

Chelspa, thanks so much for doing that. Very illuminating. I actually went looking for some numbers of babies born with two names in particular, Luca and Remy/Remi, and discovered that while Luca is pretty heavily boys in the US, Remy/Remi is actually fairly even though tilting slightly toward the boys. There are more y-ending boys and more i-ending girls but there are significant numbers of children of both genders with both spellings. Some of the above are surprising too: Aubrey so high for girls and not een top 100 for boys, Cameron SO much higher for boys than for girls, Sasha so much higher for girls. The rank can be slightly misleading: there are pretty much equal numbers of boys and girls named Rory, for instance, even though the rank shows up much higher for boys.

Scrambledmegs Says:

January 2nd, 2012 at 5:37 pm

I’m surprised to hear so many people feel that Rory is feminine. It was my father’s name, and I’ve known more adult male Rorys than anything else. I would assume a lot of Rory’s feminine qualities were inspired by the television show Gilmore Girls. I think I like it equally for both. I’m interest in what the new male Glee character will due for the name’s popularity.

I love that Parker made the list! It’s one of my favorites for a girl. And no Sloane? I still like it, I thought it was due for a comeback.

AussieSteph Says:

January 3rd, 2012 at 1:50 am

i love sasha for a girl but think that, traditionally, it has been a nickname in Russia for Alexander…so i have been surprised to read the many posts that ‘feel’ it is more girl than boy. however, in writing this, it occurs to me that it may also be used as a nickname for Alexandra!?!?

SarahInGa Says:

January 3rd, 2012 at 10:16 pm

I actually like unisex names. No reason in particular, but I just tend to like the way they sound.

DD’s name is Reese and this little one (a girl) will most likely be Ellis. Probably not as gender neutral as Reese, but I like it and with all the Ellies, Ellas and Elles, I think it’s a nice alternative.

CKA Says:

January 3rd, 2012 at 11:10 pm

As a given name Sasha in the US seems to be more exclusive as a girl’s name, but I noticed in pulling up the stats that in France it is more or less equal for boys and girls as a given name used 446 times for boys in 2009 and 436 for girls.

cmarie3687 Says:

March 22nd, 2012 at 11:55 pm

i love a lot of these names for girls. Harper, Rowan, Avery, Emerson, Parker, and Sage are my favorites. I like unisex names, Ive just never been attracted to super frilly girl names.

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May 1st, 2012 at 2:57 pm

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It’s time to find out what the hottest baby names of 2012 are…. Says:

July 13th, 2012 at 6:26 pm

[…] gender identity, containing elements of names for the opposite gender if not crossing over to unisex […]

phanny3282 Says:

December 7th, 2012 at 12:02 pm

Sawyer and Carter are awful on a girl. Way too harsh and masculine.

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