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What are Some Unisex Names?

By Jennifer Fenn
Updated May 23, 2024
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Unisex names are ones that can be used for either males or females. Classic examples include Pat, Chris, Robin, Terry, Lee and Jamie. Names such as Reese, Jordan, Alexis, Angel, Hayden, Dylan, Taylor, Cameron, Jayden or Jaden, Avery, Peyton or Payton and Riley were popular for both genders in 2005. Certain non-traditional names, such as those that have their origins in place names, like London, Austin and Dakota, are also considered gender-neutral. Some names have different meanings depending on whether they are used to name a boy or a girl.

Unisex names do occur in other cultures. For example, nearly all Sikh first names are gender-neutral. Sex is indicated by the baby’s last name, with Kaur signaling a female and Singh a male. Such names can also be found in Japanese and Nigerian cultures, among others.

Social awkwardness is a concern when choosing a unisex name for a child. Some parents choose such names so that they can keep the same name regardless of what gender the baby turns out to be. Unisex names may, however, lead to a child being teased or insulted when presumed to be the wrong gender.

This can be particularly troublesome during early childhood, when children emphasize gender differences as part of their psychological development. Studies have also shown that men with unisex names don’t have as much success in the business world as their clearly named competitors. This confusion can sometimes be avoided by choosing a middle name that clearly indicates gender.

Unisex names declined in popularity between 1995 and 2005. One reason for this change is that some names that began as appropriate for both boys and girls became associated primarily with one gender or another over time. While Erin, Lynn, Carroll, Meredith, Leslie and Madison were once considered unisex names, they are now mostly used to name baby girls. Likewise, Adrian, Blake and Carson have generally ceased to be considered unisex names and are now mostly applied to males. Names that begin as gender neutral are more likely to end up being considered female than male.

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Discussion Comments

By anon226295 — On Oct 31, 2011

When guys have feminine sounding unisex names, I automatically think they are sissies?

By ZsaZsa56 — On Jul 21, 2011

I recently met a man named Valerie. he went by Val but he admitted to me that Valerie was his real name. I have never heard this before and probably for good reason. Some names work in unisex format and others do not. I think Valerie is too firmly feminine to be considered a boys name. He had learned to live with it but he seemed a little bitter at his parents.

By jonrss — On Jul 20, 2011

A good friend of mine named his new son Ari which means lion in Hebrew. I don't think this is a traditional unisex name, it is no Chris, but I think it could work as one. In fact my friend planned it that way. He liked the name so much and realized that it had so few cultural references that he could name his child Ari whether it was a boy or a girl. It probably works better for boys, but why not for girls as well. Somewhere out there I am sure there is a girl named Ari.

By JessiC — On Jul 20, 2011

I personally am not a big fan of unisex names, and perhaps that is because I have one of those names that can be for a girl or a boy. Spelling usually differentiates which one you are.

So naturally, everyone (including my own father) has a hard time remembering how to spell my name. Also, with a name like Jessi and being a girl, everyone assumes that my name is Jessica.

It is so ridiculous having to explain over and over again that I am really just Jessi. No ca's around here anyplace. I’ve even had people ask me if I was sure about that.

To top that off, I have a unisex middle name as well, also with the different spelling. I guess I’m just a really confusing sort of gal.

By geekish — On Jul 19, 2011

@wavy 58 - I love the idea of using state names for unique names. I know someone who just named their child Carolina, and I have a friend named Texas, whom we all call Tex.

There is an upside to unique names, it's hard to forget someone named "Tex" don't you think?!

The state names are obviously very American, and not quite unisex, but I know some great unisex Irish names: Casey, Flynn, and Flannery.

I think choosing a child's name must be one of the most difficult things to choose!

By amysamp — On Jul 19, 2011

@oasis 11 - There is a great chapter about names in a book I just read. It talks about where names come from but because the book is by researchers they give stories and data on people given bad names such as one child who was named Winner while his sibling was named Loser.

You can guess the moral of the story... the child named Winner has a criminal record and the child named Loser is called 'Lou' by his friends. The conclusion from all the data that they collected was that one's name did not have an effect on the individual's success.

By OeKc05 — On Jul 18, 2011

I think that if you are going to choose a unisex baby name, you should make up one that hasn’t been used. That way, you lower the chances that someone will mistake your child for the opposite gender.

My friend came up with the name Masrin for her baby girl. She had considered several other names, including Starron, Neshlee, and Amnell. Other names she thought of but then scratched off the list were Sparmon, Curblin, and Lutro.

One semi-common name she thought about was Quinn. It really could go either way, but she didn’t really like the letter Q, so she developed a list of her own.

By kylee07drg — On Jul 17, 2011

I have a female friend named Jo. Her name isn’t short for Josephine or Joanna. Her parents simply put “Jo” as her first name on her birth certificate.

I asked her if she had ever wanted to legally change her name once she came of age, but she said she likes the simplicity of a one-syllable name. She told me that she actually pities people with three-syllable names, because it takes longer for someone to call out their name and get their attention in emergency situations. Jo always has been one to look on the bright side of things, and her name is no exception.

By Mae82 — On Jul 16, 2011

I have always loved unisex names but I agree that people should give some hints to others when they are talking about their child or whomever. Nothing is more embarrassing than making comments about someone's daughter only to realize it is a son and you have offended the mother.

I think the use of pronouns such as he and she, are good to toss in at the beginning of a conversation. I have a friend who has children will all unisex names and it has become a habit of hers to clearly identify which sex they are in conversation. I believe this just helps others to feel more comfortable and to not feel foolish if they make a mistake.

By wavy58 — On Jul 15, 2011

I think if you just cannot resist doling out unisex names, you should save your urges for unisex puppy names. Pets don't care if someone mistakes them for another gender. Humans often do, so save your kids some grief and name them obviously male or female names.

Some common unisex pet names are Spot, Brownie, and Pookie. However, if you'd like to be more unique, name them after cities or states like some people do their kids. Georgia, Dallas, and Nevada are all pretty names.

Your pet will never get teased for its name. Your animal will never have awkward moments with clients because of its name. You cannot cause future embarrassment to your pet, so reserve the unisex names for Pookie.

By letshearit — On Jul 15, 2011

@anon89774 - I think that advising people if you are either male or female is something that should be taken care of in advance and should be done in a subtle manner. For my friend he always tacked on his middle name because it was clearly masculine and prevented confusion. Signing an e-mail formally with a Mr. or Ms. can also prevent any issues from arising.

If you have already made the mistake of not giving someone a clear idea whether you are male or female and they are now confused it is a good idea to add a note when you next write to them and let them know what has happened. A little good humor can go a long way.

By Oceana — On Jul 14, 2011

The name Erin for a female and Aaron for a boy sound just alike. However, if a girl tells you her name is Erin, you automatically picture the feminine spelling in your head, and you do the same with Aaron for a male.

I have known both males and females named Lee, but often, the female will spell her name "Leigh." The same goes for the masculine "Micky" and the feminine "Mickie."

The name Hayden I have only seen spelled one way, but the sound of it conjures up neither male nor female to me. This would be a good unisex name, because I don't think a kid would get teased for it regardless of gender.

By cafe41 — On Jul 13, 2011

@Sunny27 - I agree but some unique names are really pretty. For example, I love the name Paris as well as Brooklyn. I think that these names are beautiful.

I think that sometimes a girl or boy’s name might turn into a unisex name when it is shortened. For example, if the girl is named Patricia you might call her Patty, but you also might call her Pat which is a unisex name.

The same thing could be said for a girl named Christina which is a traditional girl’s name, but when it is shortened it becomes a unisex name like Chris. I think that when you name your child even if you have selected a traditional name, the shortened version of the name might become a typical name on a unisex names list.

By Sunny27 — On Jul 13, 2011

@Oasis11 -I agree with you and prefer names for girls that are more traditional like Elizabeth or Sophia, but I can understand the need to look at unusual unisex names because a lot of the parents have traditional names and they think that their names are a little on the boring side so they select something unique that one else would probably have.

Some people for example, will take a girls or boys name and change the spelling to make the name more unique. If the parents like the name Emily, they might spell it as Emeli which I don’t like. I feel like the name is misspelled. Another popular one is Ginnifer instead of Jennifer. These are probably parents that want a unique name but don't want to too far out and name their kid after a fruit.

By oasis11 — On Jul 12, 2011

@Anon89774- That is a really good question. I would say that you can ask the person if you can refer to them by their first name. I think that is the safest bet, so that you don’t have to approach them with a question that asks about their gender.

I think that some unisex names for girls like Madison are really pretty for a girl, but I don’t like this name for a boy. I like traditional names for boys because for me, I do want by son to have a masculine identity and be confident in his business dealings.

People don’t realize the affect that a name can have in someone’s life. This is why I like traditional names. I really don’t like when Hollywood stars name their kids Apple or Phinnaeus. These kids have to live with these names their whole lives and I can only think about the teasing that they will get when they get to school.

By anon89774 — On Jun 12, 2010

How does one with a unisex name advise business associates dealt with solely on computer, advise people that they are male, not female, without offending the business associate?

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