These 31 Unisex Names Are Going to the Boys
Unisex names for boys don’t get a lot of press these days.
We’re living in an era when an increasing number of parents are choosing not just unisex, but even traditionally male, names for their daughters. Famous examples include Jessica Simpson and Eric Johnson’s Maxwell, Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutscher’s Wyatt, and Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds’ James.
But on the boys’ side? Zero. Not one of the Top 50, or 100, or even 200 boys’ names in the US started life on the girls’ side. You have to scroll all the way down to #222 Kyrie to find a predominantly male name that did.
We’ve talked before about the subconscious bias of unisex name trends, but here’s some better news for you!
We’ve analyzed the US baby name data from the past two decades to uncover 31 unisex options which are going against the grain and moving further toward the boys’ side. Some of these male-trending names are rising much more steeply for boys than girls, some are falling much less steeply for boys than girls, and some are rising for boys while falling for girls.
We’ve limited the field to those which saw at least a 5% shift towards the boys’ side. They are shown in order of biggest gender shift, with figures rounded to the nearest whole number.
Unisex Names Trending Male in the US
Gale — Given a new lease of life by The Hunger Games
0% male in 1998; 100% male in 2018 (+100%)
Hero — Tragic heroine turned modern hero name
unranked in 1998; 81% male in 2018 (+81%)
38% male in 1998; 92% male in 2018 (+54%)
Honor — Vintage girl name turned modern virtue
0% male in 1998; 48% male in 2018 (+48%)
Dominique — Falling for both sexes, but far faster for girls
17% male in 1998; 61% male in 2018 (+44%)
52% male in 1998; 95% male in 2018 (+43%)
Yael — Staged a dramatic gender switch in the early noughties
27% male in 1998; 68% male in 2018 (+41%)
Brecken — Fits the fashionable two-syllable, n-ending mold
54% male in 1998; 94% male in 2018 (+40%)
37% male in 1998; 76% male in 2018 (+39%)
Onyx — That cool X ending makes it a winner for boys
39% male in 1998; 77% male in 2018 (+38%)
4% male in 1998; 42% male in 2018 (+38%)
32% male in 1998; 68% male in 2018 (+35%)
58% male in 1998; 93% male in 2018 (+35%)
34% male in 1998; 69% male in 2018 (+35%)
Kerry — Jaunty Irish choice falling more slowly for boys
43% male in 1998; 76% male in 2018 (+33%)
34% male in 1998; 62% male in 2018 (+28%)
23% male in 1998; 51% male in 2018 (+28%)
Rowan — Solid nature name that’s really taken off for boys
41% male in 1998; 68% male in 2018 (+27%)
Zephyr — That Z initial and -er ending sound are red hot right now
53% male in 1998; 79% male in 2018 (+26%)
47% male in 1998; 71% male in 2018 (+24%)
17% male in 1998; 40% male in 2018 (+23%)
70% male in 1998; 91% male in 2018 (+21%)
Milan — Italian place name with a super-stylish sound and shape
45% male in 1998; 64% male in 2018 (+19%)
Robin — Sweet old-fashioned choice now making its way back
24% male in 1998; 43% male in 2018 (+19%)
Echo — Boosted for boys by that fashionable -o ending
0% male in 1998; 18% male in 2018 (+18%)
Eden — Cool shape and bonus Biblical connection
11% male in 1998; 24% male in 2018 (+13%)
Joan — Old lady name turned stylish Catalan pick
88% male in 1998; 100% male in 2018 (+12%)
54% male in 1998; 62% male in 2018 (+8%)
Kamari — Lively choice with Swahili origins
61% male in 1998; 69% male in 2018 (+8%)
88% male in 1998; 95% male in 2018 (+7%)
85% male in 1998; 90% male in 2018 (+5%)
Girl – Boy Crossover Candidates We’re Watching
As well as the 31 names above which are already showing a marked shift towards the boys’ side, we’ve picked out 18 more unisex baby names we think could be heading that way.
Some of these choices, like Cadence and Cassidy, are dropping off sharply for girls while continuing to rise steadily for boys. Others, like Indy and Remy, have alternative spellings which are much more popular for girls. And a third group, including names like Charlie and Valentine, have been generating a lot of buzz lately – inspired by stylish celebrity parents who have chosen them for their sons.
Here, the next wave of unisex names we predict will swing further toward the boys.
Would you consider any of these for a son? What girl-leaning unisex, or even traditionally male, names would you love to see firmly back in the boys’ camp? Tell us below!
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on June 7th, 2020 at 2:06 pm
Tomboyish names have a kind of vibe, you know? I had a friend named Leonor who went by Leo. Cecil kinda hits different on a girl, not gonna lie.
on June 7th, 2020 at 11:44 pm
I’m surprised by Yael – this is a female biblical name. It always confuses me when biblical names of one gender are used for another. Biblically, Elisha was always male, and it bothers me when I see it used for a female!
on June 8th, 2020 at 11:30 am
I like Tatum, Cadence, Ashton, and Camden for boys! 💚💙💚
on June 8th, 2020 at 5:01 pm
Joan is the Catalan version of John.
on June 8th, 2020 at 6:00 pm
I remember I started this thread in the forum about a year ago. I’m so happy this is now a bigger conversation. Really, names are just names. We add meaning to them. I think hero, honor and yael are cute for boys!
on June 9th, 2020 at 1:46 am
I’m nonbinary and my name now is Morgan because it trends gender-neutral to slightly masculine for me, because the first Morgan I knew growing up was a boy in my grade. People who know me as Morgan, but who don’t know me specifically as trans/nonbinary, sometimes comment that I’m the first male (heh) Morgan they’ve met.
Emma Waterhouse Said
on June 9th, 2020 at 2:12 pm
I was surprised by Yael, too! Elisha less so, since it looks and sounds so close to Alicia and its variants. I wonder if it’s because Yael looks so similar to Gael (and maybe Yale)… or perhaps I’m missing a famous male Yael? If anyone knows, I’d love to hear from you!
I’ve just changed “Spanish” to the lore accurate “Catalan” — thank you! I love this one for a boy because of Joan Miró.
Yes, this was such a fun and refreshing blog to write and research. I love these names too — both son 1 and (imaginary) son 2’s names are on here!
Morgan sounds like a great choice for you, from what you describe. It’s gender-neutral leaning slightly masculine for me, too, having always been more popular for boys here in the UK.
on June 10th, 2020 at 7:41 am
I like feminine names with masculine nicknames (like Max for Maxine) and masculine names with feminine nicknames (like Izzy for Isaac)
But, Everett or James for a girl… definitely not.
on June 10th, 2020 at 11:30 pm
Gentry definitely feels like a boy name. I hope it catches on for the boys! Glad to see the boys side getting some name gains. It’s hard to name a boy when all the boy names have become girl names.
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