Unisex Names

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If you're thinking about giving your baby a unisex name, you not only have a broad name pool to choose from, but it's getting bigger by the day! Along with created names, this is one of the fastest-growing name fashions, and it doesn't show signs of letting up yet. You might even end up adding to it with the name you choose.

Giving unisex names is a stronger fashion for girls than for boys—in 1998, nearly one-quarter of the top 100 girls' names were unisex names, while only 16 of the top names given boys were unisex. However, as you can see by the following list, there wasn't much crossover in usage between boys and girls, at least when it comes to names at the top of the charts.

Boys Girls
Dylan Ashley
Kyle Taylor
Jordan Madison
Cameron Haley
Sean Lauren
Hunter Courtney
Cody Sydney
Logan Morgan
Alex Sierra
Devin Jordan
Evan Alexandria
Jesse Mackenzie
Jeremy Bailey
Adrian Kelsey
Dakota Brooke
Blake Shelby
Lindsey
Cheyenne
Paige
Kelly
Adriana
Leslie
Cassidy

What these lists show is that many of the unisex names currently popular are in broad use for just one gender. Some have been in use long enough that they've fallen out of favor for the other gender. Or, as in the case of Leslie and Ashley, they've become strongly identified with one gender over the other and their unisex qualities are fading. But there are still plenty of names, even in this small pool, that could still skip over to the other gender, and there are many more just waiting to be added to the list.

Today's Hit Parade

Name Dropping

A good way to judge the trendiness of a unisex name is to look at the names on the most popular lists for both genders. If the name you're considering appears high on both lists, it's probably a trendy name and it may go out of style quickly.

While there's really no such thing as a classic when it comes to unisex names, there are still many that have become so popular that they have come near that level of achievement:

  • Adrian: You can spell it Adrienne or Adriana for girls.
  • Aubrey: I think this Old French name (which means, of all things, “elf ruler”) is poised for a comeback from being used more for girls. It's relatively uncommon for both sexes these days, but I predict it will become more popular—and especially for boys—in the next few years.
  • Bailey: This French occupational name means “jailer” or “bailiff.” A female character on the TV show WKRP and a male character appearing more recently on Party of Five have helped this name's popularity over the years immensely.
  • Blaine: The rain in Spain stays mainly on the blaine? Blaine is Scottish for “flat area” or “plain.” It's more common with boys, but it has a ring to it that parents like for girls, too.
  • Blair: Similar to Blaine in meaning, and similar to Blaine in appeal.
  • Cameron: A strong boys' name for quite some time. Actress Cameron Diaz's rise to fame is propelling this name to the top of the girls' charts, too.
  • Cassidy: Kathie Lee Gifford, the fashion arbiter of daytime television, placed this name square in the center of the unisex lists when she used it for her baby girl.
  • Chandler: We have the hit TV show Friends to thank for this one. It's definitely on the hit parade for both sexes, but it may end up being fairly trendy.
  • Dylan: Tributes to Bob D. aside, this name has tremendous appeal for both girls and boys.
  • Evan: This Welsh form of John is used more often for boys, but is also used for girls and has been for some time.
  • Jesse: One of those names that never quite breaks the top echelon of the most popular lists, but a good unisex name all the same. Currently more popular for boys.
  • Jordan: Popular for both boys and girls with no particular favoritism being shown for either sex, although it's currently a stronger boys' name.
  • Kelsey: Currently stronger for girls than boys, and it may end up with a stronger feminine identity overall, but there's still actor Kelsey Grammar to balance things out. If his show stays popular, there will probably be more little boy Kelseys running around.
  • Logan: Popular for both sexes, although running a little stronger for boys at this point.
  • Mackenzie: Very, very popular for girls right now. It may become so strongly associated to the girls' list that it will have to come off the unisex list. Still, Mack is a great pet name for a boy.
  • Sean: This one is a little more rare than the others, but it's still used enough to make it onto the hit parade. Probably more popular for boys than for girls.

  • Shelby: I have to think that this name owes its popularity to the character Julia Roberts played in Steel Magnolias, but I know of two men named Shelby who are much older than she is, so this is clearly one of those unisex names with staying power. It really does work equally well for boys and girls. This name will live long and prosper.
  • Taylor: One of my best friends is named Taylor, and he's a grandfather to an adorable little girl also named Taylor. 'Nuff said—this is a great name for both sexes and another unisex classic.



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More on: Choosing a Name

excerpted from:

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Baby Names © 1999 by Sonia Weiss. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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