Unisex Baby Names: Emerson, Everly and more

Unisex Baby Names: Emerson, Everly and more

For the Nameberry 9 newsiest names of this week, Abby Sandel of Appellation Mountain  highlights some unisex baby names, interesting surname names and other novel choices.

By now, you’ve almost certainly heard about Blaer Bjarkardottir.

She’s just won the legal right to use her name.  Fifteen years ago, Blaer’s mom unknowingly gave her daughter a name that does not appear on the official list of 1,853 names permitted for baby girls in Iceland.  The mistake was discovered only after Blaer’s baptism.

A Nobel Prize-winning novelist had used the name for a female character.  Plus, Blaer’s mom knew another woman with the name – it’s where she got the idea in the first place.

It turns out that even in a country with official lists, things can be a little bit fuzzy.

There are no official lists in the U.S., but plenty of us might like to impose them.

Trouble is, even if there were rules at a given moment, they’re always subject to change.  What was true in 1960 – or 1860 – won’t hold in 2013.

This brings us to a great quote from Swistle: “Names, like colors and toys, are given to male/female babies according to fashion, not according to stone tablets.”

The baby name news this week is a mix of gender neutral choices and a few that are more clearly meant for a son or a daughter.

The nine most newsworthy baby names are:

Blaer – Blair is the name of fictional rich girls from The Facts of Life to Gossip Girl.  In Icelandic, Blaer doesn’t exactly rhyme with Claire.  And “ae” is actually one letter: æ. But after all these headlines, will the name Blaer appeal to English-speaking parents?  Spellings like Kaelyn have seen some use in recent years.

Tempany – Did you see Baby Name Pondering’s post on this name?  It’s new to me, but apparently steadily used in Australia.  Tempany likely started out as a surname, but she’s been boosted by soap opera star Tempany Deckert.  My first thought was timpani – the drum.  It’s an interesting sound.

Robley – While we’re on surnames with interesting sounds, Nancy wrote about Robley.  With a famous admiral and a pioneering doctor having worn the name, Robley has history aplenty.  He also shortens to Rob or even Bob if you’re inclined, or maybe offers a great way to update Robert.

Greyson James Carroll – Kara DioGuardi, the former American Idol judge, and her husband Mike have welcomed a son.  Greyson is a popular choice these days, though Grayson is actually the more popular spelling.  Add them both up, and he’s a popular pick.  Maybe the best part of his name is that second middle, Carroll, after Kara’s mom, Carol.

Gretel – I’ve yet to see Hansel & Gretel, but it has made a splash at the box office.  It’s no gentle fairy tale.  Instead, the children who escaped from a candy-coat gingerbread house grew up to be lethal witch hunters.  Will their names catch on?  Margaret has been the decline, and short forms like Gretchen and Greta haven’t seen much use, either.  Still, Gretel seems more likely to be considered than her brother, Hansel, who still reminds me of the outlandish male model character from Zoolander.

Constance – While we’re at the movies, Brad Pitt’s zombie apocalypse flick World War Z won’t debut until June.  The trailers are out now, though.  Pitt plays a U.N. staffer trying to avert global meltdown.  Young actress Sterling Jerins plays his daughter Constance.  Could Constance be an alternative to the elegant, but overused,Charlotte?

Boden – Since this past weekend was Groundhog Day, it seems like a good moment for prognostications.  Kelli took a crack at names that might enter US Top 1000 when we see the new numbers in May.  Boden is on her list for boys – I think she’s nailed this one.

Everly – Kelli’s list for likely risers for girls includes Everly.  Doesn’t it seem incredible that Everly isn’t a Top 1000 choice?  It feels like she’s been everywhere in the past year or three.  She’s part-Eve/Evelyn/Evangeline, part-Kennedy/Delaney.  Anthony Kiedis gave the name to a son, the stylishly named Everly Bear.

Emerson –Swistle counseled parents worried about giving this name to a daughter.  They didn’t make international headlines, but their choice caused controversy amongst friends and family.  Ultimately, the parents stuck with their instinct and went with the name they loved – though they spelled it Emmerson.  Along with Ellis, Ellison, and a few other names, Emerson is part of the next wave of surname names for girls.  Though, happily, it remains well-used for boys, too.  Could it be that we’re finally learning to share?

Do you think we should have official name lists for boys and girls?  Maybe rules about gender and spelling?  If there were rules, would you be tempted to break them?