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Unisex Names

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

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:

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:

Losing Their Identity

Name Dropping

When it comes to naming little boys, choosing a unisex name that is in fairly equal use for both genders, like Cody or Taylor, is often a safer choice than names like Kim or Kerry that have run their course as unisex names and are in stronger use for girls than boys.

These names, while once fairly strong in the unisex category, have become so widely used for one sex that they've lost their unisex identity. Think carefully about using them unless you're giving them to the gender that they've become most identified with:

Better Left in the Dust

Name Dropping

Unisex names are often unique enough on their own. Resist the temptation to embellish them further with unusual spellings, especially when it comes to using them for boys. Kelly is a much better choice than Kelleigh.

These names are either so old and out of date or have become so strongly associated with one gender over time that it's best to leave them alone as a unisex name:

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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