Unisex Names

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The Up-and-Comers

What's in a Name

In Germany, a civil code that dates back to the beginning of the twentieth century prohibits parents from choosing names for their babies that don't indicate their genders. German parents are also banned from using last names as first names.

Name Dropping

Unisex names are growing in use, but many people still feel the best boys' names are those that are strongly masculine—like David, James, and John—that are virtually never used for girls.

Keep an eye out for these unisex names. They may not be popular yet, but they should be in a year or two:

  • Adair: This Scottish last name has the androgynous feel that parents look for in a unisex name.
  • Ashton: Instead of Ashley. It's another English place name, and it has much of the same feel, minus the feminine ending.
  • Brett: More popular for boys now, but this name has the feel of a unisex winner.
  • Corey: Currently more popular for boys, it has been used as a unisex name, and I don't think it's ready to go away just yet.
  • Dana: It's been around a long time as a boys' name and it's been used occasionally for girls, but it's fresh-sounding and should gain in appeal.
  • Devin: It has two syllables, which today's parents like, and the fashionable -in ending. It may end up being stronger for boys, but both genders have an equal shot at it right now.
  • Frazer: I'm not sure why, but this name just feels poised to become a contender in the unisex arena, maybe with different spellings like Fraser or Frazier.
  • Harley: If it makes you think of the motorcycle, that's the idea. Close enough to Hayley and Kayleigh to make it popular for girls, it's rough-and-tough enough for boys, too.
  • Hollis: It's derived from an English place name and has a solid old-money feel to it that should strike a note with parents searching for names for either sex.
  • Kyle: There's a female newscaster in Denver with this name, and the more I hear it, the more I like it. Very fresh and unusual sounding for both sexes, although it has a history as a boys' name.
  • Lane: Not in common use for either sex, but it's a good name that never seems to quite go away. For girls, it's a nice alternative to Elaine.
  • Lyle: Like Kyle, it's a place name, but this one comes from France. Never a name in wide use, which makes it poised to become a unisex name now.
  • Norris: It's French for “northerner,” and, like Hollis, has a solid feel to it. This one may be difficult when it comes to pet names, however. Norry? Risky? Rizzie?
  • Raleigh: It's a great English name with a good feel for both sexes. Not in broad use now, but it could come on.
  • Tully: This name, which means “mighty people,” has an interesting, androgynous sound to it. It's also very uncommon, which makes it ripe for the unisex arena.
  • Whitney: Maybe a little stronger now for girls, thanks to Whitney Houston, but it has an old-school East Coast feel that may make it more popular for boys.
  • Wynn: This name is variously translated as Welsh for “fair” or “white,” or Old English, meaning “friend.” It's often considered a girls' name, but it's another one with good crossover potential thanks to developer/entrepreneur Steve Wynn.



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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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