Unisex Baby Names: How To Achieve Baby Name Equality
Unisex baby names, meaning those that are used for both boys and girls, are not always that equal. Some of the most popular are heavily weighted toward one gender or the other: Emerson is 61 percent girls and 39 percent boys, for instance, while Rowan is the other way around. Other names are skewed depending on spelling: Jadin is 66% boys, while Jadyn is 71% girls.
Still other unisex baby names may veer in a new direction because of a pop culture influence. Quinn, while 68% boys right now, we expect to rise dramatically for girls thanks to the attractive female character on Glee.
But there are some baby names that are truly unisex, given to half boys and half girls. Many of these are somewhat obscure names, or unusual spelling variations of more popular names. We’ve left off the less usable examples (Dacoda, Oluwadamilola) but if your main aim is absolute parity, here are some unisex baby names split 50-50 between boys and girls:
Money (equal pay….)
More popular unisex baby names that are close to 50-50 include the following, ordered by popularity within each proportion breakdown. Coincidentally, the most widely used name that comes closest to gender equality is my own daughter’s name Rory, given to 581 babies in 2009, 51% of them boys and 49% girls. There are some great names here and some surprises: I would never have guessed, for instance, that Winslow and Timber would tip girlish, or that Dominique, Marion, and Britt would lean toward the boys’ side.
Slightly more girls than boys:
Jaedyn – 51-49
Kamdyn – 51-49
Lakota – 51 – 49
Ellington – 52 – 48
Devyn – 53 – 47
Camdyn – 53 – 47
Kylin – 53 – 47
Winslow – 53 – 47
Garnet – 53 – 47
Laken – 54 – 46
Kodi – 54 – 46
Tennessee – 54 – 46
Landry – 55 – 45
Timber – 55 – 45
Mercury – 55 – 45
Wisdom – 55 – 45
Seneca – 55 – 45
Slightly more boys than girls:
Rory – 51 – 49
Dominique – 51 – 49
Reilly and Ryley – 51 – 49
Tenzin – 51 – 49
Yuki – 51 – 49
Marion – 52 -48
Rio – 52 -48
Dakotah – 52 -48
Gentry – 52 -48
True – 52 -48
Merritt – 52 -48
Joss – 52 -48
Britt – 52 -48
Jessie – 53 – 47
Payden – 53 – 47
Valentine – 53 – 47
Jazz – 53 – 47
Dakota – 54 – 46
Jaylin – 54 – 46
Jael – 54 – 46
Austyn – 54 – 46
Jules – 54 – 46
Jaziah – 54 – 46
Justice – 55 – 45
Tristyn – 55 – 45
Kaidyn – 55 – 45
Corin – 55 – 45
Zeal – 55 – 45
Be sure to check out our full list of unisex baby names.
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Bella (spotlightstarlit) Said
on April 14th, 2011 at 2:17 am
I’m going to forget I ever saw the Marion statistics because when I see my second favorite name, the legend-inspired, Mother Mary-honoring moniker, Marion, all I see is a little girl with brown ringlets, highlighted in auburn and blue eyes.
on April 14th, 2011 at 6:09 am
I really don’t mind some unisex names, but I strongly dislike the new trend of seeing so many couples using boyish names for their daughters. Elliot, Dakota, etc used to be such great boy names, that are now being “taken” by girls. There are soo many beautiful girl names, but parents still take the boys names. Does this bother anyone else?
on April 14th, 2011 at 6:43 am
Some of these really threw me off. Clarke for a girl? Mattia and Britt for a boy?
I suppose Clarke is fresh off the Claire trend. And maybe Mattia is following Matteo and Britt is following Brett.
on April 14th, 2011 at 7:35 am
Poor little Stellar will hopefully live up to their name. Wow. Great post, though the info on Emerson breaks my heart.
on April 14th, 2011 at 8:44 am
I have to say that I am the opposite of Natalie, I absolutely love the trend of boy’s names on girls. I am not really sure why but I’ve loved it since I was a young girl. The first one I remember reading about was the model/actress Jamie King – when she was first becoming popular she went by James King and I just thought that was fantastic!
To each his/her own of course 🙂
on April 14th, 2011 at 9:42 am
Winslow on a girl? eeeech!
Marion feels boyish to me, as does Valentine. The girls can have Marian & Valentina!
All I can say about boys names on girls is: Thanks! Makes *my* girl stand out in that sea! 😀
Oh, am I’m thrilled our #2 boy name wasn’t on this list! (Remy still skews very masculine to me).
on April 14th, 2011 at 9:46 am
I’m , no *am* before it. sheesh!
And my “Cool Names for babies” is on it’s way to me!
on April 14th, 2011 at 9:49 am
I must say I wonder about the spellings. Apparently these names are sponsored by the letter ‘y.’ Dakotah is in interesting spelling as well. I quite like the spelling Grae, but I would use that as a nickname not as a real one. As a previous poster stated, to each their own, I suppose.
on April 14th, 2011 at 10:47 am
I personally think even names like Harper look ghastly on girls. I see nothing pretty or even slightly feminine in it.
I do, however, quite like Rory on a girl, which I surprised my self with. Aurora with the nickname Rory would cute.
on April 14th, 2011 at 11:01 am
Boys names on girls (if not too masculine), seemed to be a cute trend, but recently I received an invitation to a wedding where both people had unisex names, and it just looked awkward – this was not something I had previously thought of when baby naming has entered my mind, just one more thing to consider.
on April 14th, 2011 at 11:32 am
I’m okay with boyish nicknames on girls, but I like the name itself to be feminine. That way the child can choose which way to go later (Ex. Charlotte nickname Charlie).
Hannah Katsman Said
on April 14th, 2011 at 2:54 pm
KAshley–that’s nothing! Wait until the bride and groom have identical names. Already not unusual here in Israel.
on April 14th, 2011 at 2:55 pm
I find it amusing when people start to talk about unisex names and then put the caveat for a girl, or boy, e.g. I am looking for unisex names for a girl. I think people do this precisely because it is acknowledged that there is still a big divide. I looked into this recently and was surprised to see that there is not one name common to both the top 100 boys and top 100 girls list despite the popularity of some so-called Unisex names which shows that once they shift more to a girl for instance they become less used for boys. Comments on the forums indicate this with comments made along the lines of I can’t use Sawyer for a boy now because it’s becoming too popular for girls (when in fact it doesn’t rank in the top 1000 as I recall for girls). So there are a lot of perceptions there that drive the divide even for people who say they are interested in unisex names.
The names for boys on the list that surprise me are Marion and Britt. Ellington for girls is a surprise.
I am surprised Jordan is not on any of the list as along with Taylor and maybe a few others that don’t come to mind right now these are what I considered more unisex.
on April 14th, 2011 at 4:16 pm
Some people don’t just choose a boyish name for their girl out of thin air. Often times it honors a family member.
on April 14th, 2011 at 4:44 pm
Chelsea, really interesting point about no name overlap on the Top 100. Jordan was for both genders a decade ago, but while it’s still there for boys (at number 45), it’s sunk much further for girls — I think because of the Michael Jordan factor.
And Angelika (and others), fascinating way this conversation has veered, toward WHY people pick unisex names. We didn’t explore that in this blog but as the mother of a daughter with a unisex name, Rory, I know I chose it deliberately because I wanted that ambiguous quality when it came to gender. And it’s true that like many people I find that less desirable for boys’ names — and think that’s sexist.
on April 14th, 2011 at 4:56 pm
In my country, the law says something like “the name can’t bring any doubt about the children gender”. And a girl can have a boy’s name, but only as a second name (and vice-versa).
Pam, if you don’t mind my asking, why did you want “that ambiguous quality”?
on April 14th, 2011 at 4:57 pm
I find unisex names so interesting. In particular, because it’s usually not a unisex name, but a typically male name that has started to be used for girls. You would never see it the other way round, which I think really exemplifies the deep misogyny within our culture – that it’s okay to be masculine but never okay to be feminine. If we lived in an equal society all names would be unisex.
I also think peoples reactions to these discussions are really interesting. KAshley – why is it awkward for a couple to have names that are unisex – because you cannot gender them right away? Because it might be a same-sex couple? Your statement is very problematic to say the least. It points to the constant need in our society to always be able to gender people, to label them male or female, man or woman – but why is this necessary? Probably best for another discussion another day.
I do think these are interesting points that you should think about if you are striving to choose a “unisex” name for your child.. or daughter more than likely. What does your daughter gain from having a unisex name? What does that say to others, or about our society as a whole that we give typical male names to our girls? How does this reflect on broader discussions of gender relations?
on April 14th, 2011 at 7:20 pm
I’m with Kashley with regards to unisex names being awkward when coupled. My sister and her husband are just such a couple and they find it annoying explaining which is which all the time. I see nothing wrong with needing to “gender people”. But Elizabeth is right, that is a discussion for another day.
What about Corey/Cori. Seems like they’d fit in this grouping. Though the spelling is probably significant.
Another is Casey.
on April 14th, 2011 at 8:23 pm
As someone that grew up with a unisex name and I am a female I definitely wish I would have been given a more feminine name. Kids can be so cruel and I was teased because there were boys at my school with my name. Even now my husband has a name that is kind of similar to mine and people accidentally call him by my name all the time. Why should we not want to have names that define our gender?
Chelsea (cka) Said
on April 14th, 2011 at 8:34 pm
@Elizabeth. It is true that it’s more common for boys names to be used on girls than the other way around, but there are exceptions (just rarer). I am one example, but I wrote a guest blog last month on this and there were quite a few comments where people posted other examples of so-called girlier names being used on guys too. I agree that it’s less common and there is an implicit sexism associated with this which was raised in the comments and there has been a lot of discussion recently in the forums/community here at Nameberry too.
@Corsue – I agree with Casey too, and less common in the US but more unisex in the UK is Kerry. The other interesting one to me is Ashley – very female dominated in the US and more male dominated in the UK.
on April 14th, 2011 at 11:24 pm
Foodie, Mattia is an Italian boy name.
Pretty much all unisex names start out as male, so I’m okay with them on boys but I have a very hard time accepting them on girls.
Also I think blogs should stop flogging Quinn as the new “it” name for girls, who knows, it might stay on the boys side. But it seems like you’re almost wishing it turns pink and wanting parents to name their girls Quinn. Let’s give it a rest, shall we?
on April 14th, 2011 at 11:54 pm
Also the problem I most have with these names is the feminization process that occurs.
I sometimes read yahoo questions regarding baby names, and one user asked “what’s wrong with giving girls a boys name?”. Answers were mixed from “nothing wrong” to “everything is wrong about it, since it’s a boy name not a girl”. But one answer stuck out to me immediately. A female user replied saying she was against this trend completely, and added “would you name your son Whitney, Jade or Lauren? No!”. This is exactly why I’m against this trend – Whitney, Jade and Lauren started out as male names, and have become so feminized that they’re no longer seen as unisex names, let alone male. It’s pratically like losing hundreds of names to the girls, reducing the range of names you could give to your son.
Chelsea (cka) Said
on April 15th, 2011 at 12:53 am
@Macy. I would suggest though that there is a certain irrationality to those parents who wouldn’t choose some names for boys just because A girls has had that name. Comments on this site related to Sawyer illustrate this. Some people have said no you can’t use Sawyer for boys because it’s going to the girls. It’s not even in the top 1000 for girl and is in the top 200s for boys. So there is this real fear/paranoia related to this. I don’t think girls are taking the names from boys, I think parents are conceding the names to girls.
on April 15th, 2011 at 8:16 am
@Natalie – YES! I am not a fan of boys’ names for girls (although Pam picked a nice one :). I have a boy Wesley, and have since heard of girls with the same name.
Naming boys is hard enough already.
on April 15th, 2011 at 11:22 am
About some of the names Chelsea mentioned:
Kerry – This and its homophone Cary have actually crept more back towards the boys since the Carrie craze in the ’70s, although the numbers are now very small overall. Kelly and Shannon, unisex favorites from that era as well, although still more popular for girls now have their closest gender ratio since the names’ heyday. (These stats I noticed thanks to the SSA now publishing their extended list down to names used at least five times each year for each gender.) This may be a good way to “reclaim” names like these for boys: Wait for them to get dated and fall for girls and let the boys win them back by default. Another example of a good candidate is Robin.
Casey – In the U.S. this name is a perfect example of how unisex names tend to be more common for boys in the “redder” parts of the country. On the national list it has averaged slightly more popular for boys since the ’80s or so, but in many “bluer” areas it’s more common for girls – for example for the years NYC has published its statistics (since 2002) Casey has averaged around a 2:1 girl:boy ratio (remember how I mentioned amont the regions of the US the Northeast typically has the lowest usage of unisex names for boys). In addition, this name has followed the opposite path of Ashley and Riley internationally – for example in the UK Casey is more common for girls.
I think the reason you see more worries about names only occassionally used for girls like Elliot or Sawyer as compared to names already established as unisex like Avery or Jordan is because those looking at names like the latter group are probably already aware of their unisex factor and are more likely to not mind androgyny with their sons’ names, while those looking at names like the former group are more likely to be looking for something that is clearly masculine and have just recently learned about them being used for girls.
Tara Beth Said
on April 15th, 2011 at 11:44 am
The spelling of many of the names on this list make me cringe! Yikes.
on April 15th, 2011 at 1:23 pm
I agree with Chelsea about the fear/paranoia factor related to unisex naming and parents ‘conceding the names to girls.’ Doesn’t that perpetuate the whole idea that girls are ‘stealing’ boys names? If people didn’t focus so much on the much on the masculinity/femininity of a name, would it be as much an issue? Sort of how race becomes an issue in instances where people introduce it as a problem.
The lines are becoming more blurred (as they once already were many, many years ago) in certain areas of masculinity/femininity. Maybe one day people won’t react so harshly upon seeing a teenage boy with painted nails or a girl named Clarke.
Names are so much more than an indication of gender.
on April 16th, 2011 at 1:46 am
If people feel strongly and I know alot on nameberry do, that boys should keep using the gender neutral names, then these same people should name their boys these names and not abandon ship. Yet….I see many on nameberry complain about the whole thing, yet the boys names they are asking about and considering are rarely gender neutral. It just seems a bit contradictory to me, as if they want “other” moms to use these names…why cant these people who complain be brave enough to use the names themselves? Just an observation. As far as my personal feeling on it, I dont have an issue with a boy having a gender neutral name. Would I personally do it to my son? No. Would I give my daughter a gender neutral name? It would depend on a lot of factors and it would have to be tipping to the girls side, but yes there are alot of appealing unisex names out their fitting for a girl.
on April 19th, 2011 at 8:03 pm
Honestly, I tend to prefer unisex names on boys.
I’ve noticed a lot of comments on this post saying that parents seem to find it more acceptable to use unisex names on girls, and while I agree that such a statement is true with MOST parents, it’s not true for all of them.
Most of the names on my boys list are considered unisex and even though some of them are starting to seem more popular for girls, it certainly wouldn’t turn me off using them.
And for those who think that a child with a unisex name is more open to teasing possibilities than a girl named Isabella or a boy named Matthew, that’s not always the case. Two of my nephews have unisex names that seem more “girlish” – Cassidy who’s 10 and Addison who’s 8 – and they never get teased for their names. They even use somewhat girly nicknames, Cass and Addy, and they’ve never been teased.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I won’t let the girls take my boys names away from me and I don’t see why you should let them either 🙂 No matter how popular Glee gets in the next few years, that won’t stop me from naming my son Quinn!
Brynn Hanna Said
on April 20th, 2011 at 1:08 am
I really like what Leah has just said.
I don’t think that we should let the girls have those names. Why should it stop us naming our son Quinn or Sawyer?
I personally love those softer or unisex or boys-names-turned-girls-names on a boy. Teasing could be a problem but really, name teasing is something that people will get past.
My name is Brynn. I’ve known one girl and one boy with this name but both spelt Bryn and it didn’t bother me or either of them in the slightest. When people try to make fun of me for having a guy’s name I don’t really care. I used to dislike my name not because it was masculine but because I just didn’t like it. Now I love it on me but also on a boy. I would be delighted to see a little male Bryn(n).
I personally think that everyone should get rid of these gender boundaries for the most part. Though it would seem odd for a girls name to go to the boys I don’t see any problem with the boys taking their names back. I like girls named Cameron, Spencer, Elliot, Sawyer etc… and boys named Whitney, Casey, Taylor, Quinn. I think girls with stronger names or more traditionally boys names just shows that it’s fine for girls to be masculine. And I think it makes boy/man even more charming if they can pull off a softer name.
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One of these days the names that look strange to us, for boy or girl, will swing out of favor and some oldies-but-goodies will swing back in, just as the old turn of the century names have now – Sarah, Olivia, Emma, Abigail, etc. (The old standby boy names don’t change as much.) In the meantime, people just like to be different, and the last-name-sound for first names has caught on and spread, most especially for girls. Such namings (boys and girls) have always been around, just not nearly as dominant as they are now. It doesn’t take too many years for some names to sound too trendy or too common.
on July 16th, 2011 at 8:00 am
Ultimately, if you’re choosing a unisex name for your boy or girl, at least do them the favor of having a gender-identifying middle name. Case solved! I am considering naming my firstborn Tenzin or Tenzyn, which has the fantastic meaning of “upholder of teaching or dharma.” If I am blessed with a boy, his name will be Tenzin Paul or Tenzin Stone. If I am blessed with a girl, her name will be Tenzyn Rose. Rose and Paul are both family names. I don’t think there would be any confusion if parents would consider such a radical idea! It’s okay to be creative or different with names, it is in all fairness – an identity.
on July 19th, 2011 at 12:16 am
Elizabeth — I wholeheartedly agree with you… I find Sociology very interesting and ponder many of the same things. I’m intrigued about the gender dichotomic nature of our world, and by the ways in which our culture continues to be misogynist, valuing what’s considered masculine more than what’s considered feminine.
For example, people wouldn’t say that a woman is “less of a woman” if she takes on a traditionally male occupation — people wouldn’t really take notice… but a man taking on a traditionally feminine occupation? (i.e. secretary/ receptionist; dental assistant; early childhood education).
Back to the topic at hand, it’s very true that it’s much more likely for a couple or a parent to name their new daughter a somewhat masculine name than the other way around.
As for names, my real name is in striking contrast to the gender I present as. I’m on this site looking around because I’m thinking about changing my name so that it’s more “in line” with my gender, so that I don’t have to worry about confusion with things like resumes… but maybe I should keep my “opposite gender” name, to make a point? Start a trend?
on July 24th, 2011 at 8:14 am
My niece has gender neutral names for both her first and middle names. When she was born many people thought she was a boy w/ the names and they did receive a few gifts/cards for their new baby boy. When i saw the announcement on FB, I called out to my husband, “We finally have a nephew!” (there had been 3 nieces born in a row). Alas, we had another gorgeous little niece. I now think that her names really suits her but i agree w/ the point someone made about giving a more feminine or masculine second name to avoid confusion. Her sister also has a gender neutral first name but the MN is one that is one only given to girls (as far as i have ever seen, heard, read). As a teacher, it is getting harder and harder to tell from the class lists at the start of the year how many girls and how many boys are going to turn up on the first day of school…but, does it really matter?
on August 8th, 2011 at 12:54 am
Interesting conversation. I disagree with the premise that boys are hard to name. Its just that men are hard to deal with when naming their boys. Really I do believe that naming is sexist, along with giving last names (patriarchal rather then hyphenated or equally distributed). Though I do believe every body has a right to name their child what they want. They also should take that child’s future into consideration. I don’t believe there is a battle with names, I think its us making names a bit more then they are, and not seeing that once a person grows up with a name, it becomes theirs. I’ve seen a girl named Cody, and I’ve also known a boy by the same name for example. I don’t really care either way. Though I don’t think its hard to name boys, there are thousands of boys names. Some sound stupid to me, but hey Ebenezer is up for grabs, if you want unique. Elliot for a girl? Well its different. But what are you going to do? Become a kid and start teasing them about their name? Maybe you should actually act like an adult.
And like Steph states; does it really matter? All unisex and girls names started out like boys names? I don’t think so, there probably are some names that where girls names to begin with. Like I think Jade in China, would probably fit a girl rather then a boy. There are many cultural differences and preferences. And who says Lauren is off the rack for a boy? Just because its not in the top 100 for boys or girls doesn’t mean it can’t be used. As a girl with the name Sarah, I wouldn’t have mind being called something else. Pretty name, just way too common. Become original. And if that means naming your boy something that sounds a bit girly? So? If you like it, and your husband likes it, then go ahead. I’m kind of fond of the name Storm for a boy sometimes.
on September 26th, 2011 at 9:49 pm
Personally I would never make my son or daughter q name that brought into question their gender. I am a female Whitney that grew up with two other Whitney’s that where boys. I wanted nothing more than to have a female name.
To each their own, but I will be happy when someone reads my child’s name and knows to look for a girl it a boy. No Jordan Riley here.
on January 28th, 2012 at 6:28 pm
A close friend has loved Emma but my sister used it so named her daughter Emmasyn because she thought Emerson sounded like a boys name so she made it girly.
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