Unisex Names

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These names are either so old and out of date or have become so strongly associated with one gender over time that it's best to leave them alone as a unisex name:

  • Afton: This Old English name was once used for men and women, but it became a trendy girls' name when it was used for a character on the TV show Dallas.
  • Carey: Spelled this way or as Kerry, like my childhood friend did, this once-popular name is dated at this point. It doesn't feel like it's going to come back as a retro fashion for either gender, either.
  • Dabney: This French name was once pretty popular for both sexes, but it's really fallen out of style. What pet names can you get from this name? Dab? Ney? Dibbles? Definitely one to put out to pasture.
  • Evelyn: This old German name is rarely used for either gender, although it began as a boys' name.
  • Hilary: This name, which is Greek for “cheerful” or “happy,” was a boys' name first, but that was a very long time ago.
  • Hunter: Although this name has an upper-crust feel to it, it really just describes what certain people did for a living in jolly old England. Right now, it's not too popular.
  • Kevin: This name is a perennial favorite for boys with Irish families. Because of its strong use for boys, it remains a rare choice for girls.
  • Loren: Better known by its feminine spelling—Lauren—this was one of the names that defined the 1980s. It's still popular, but so overused that it's losing momentum.
  • Randy: As a diminutive form of such boys' names as Randall or Randolph and girls' names like Miranda, this was a very popular name about 30 or 40 years ago. It is dated because of how it ends—if it were spelled Randey it might gain in popularity, at least for girls, but I'm dubious.
  • Terry: Whether it's a diminutive of Terence or Teresa, it's out of date.
  • Toby: Never strongly popular for either sex, although it tends to bubble up in popularity every few years or so.


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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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