When it comes to naming a child - there are clearly no hard and fast rules. Apparently all is fair in love and war...and naming babies. Face it - it’s 2017 and boundaries are blurring and that includes with baby names. What works for a girl may possibly fit for a boy - and a typical boy name can definitely be repurposed for a future daughter.
Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively didn’t let society dictate any name rules to them in 2014 when they called their daughter James. The same goes for Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis who during the same year opted to name their daughter Wyatt. So whether it’s a family name or something a future parent has their heart set on - don’t let an inconsequential detail like gender get in the way.
This list is perfect for the soon-to-be parent looking for some new and creative choices for their future baby’s name. It’s a must-read for anyone scouring for a name with a unique gender-bending twist that the public may not yet be privy to. And it’s absolutely ideal for the efficient parent - the one hoping to make a one-stop choice that will work no matter if they have a girl or boy.
When it comes to naming a child - everything is fair game! So snap up #12 and #5 before they become completely mainstream. Curious readers should continue reading for 20 names that are shockingly unisex.
Historical trends from the past have the name Basil down as exclusively male . . . but present day says otherwise. According to BabyCenter.com, as of 1999, Basil is a perfectly viable girl name that may in fact be gathering steam at this very moment. Almost 20 years ago, it hit the ground running when it first registered as a potential girl name at #6249 on the list. It currently sits at #4716 so while it clearly has a ways to go before being considered trendy, it is up 274 notches from last year.
Derived from the word “basileus” which means “king” or “regal”, the name has both royal as well as religious undertones. It was the name of two Byzantine emperors and St. Basil the Great was a 4th-century bishop who is also credited as one of the founders of the Christian church.
Basil was once considered a name reserved for the British elite thanks to actor Basil Rathbone’s (1892-1967) portrayal of the character Sherlock Holmes. It hit its high at #328 in 1904 and remained consistently popular within the U.S. until the 1970s.
As far as gem names go, Ruby and Jade have the floor but for parents feeling these two may have run their course, consider going back to basics with the understated beauty of Beryl. This definitely vintage name refers to a jewel of varying colors - typically yellowish green. While most are aware of the antiquated Beryl being relegated to a mouldering generation, what may come as a surprise is that this name has credence for either gender.
Hebrew boy name Berel as well as surname turned first name Burrell keep mainly to the male side of things - but somewhere along the way, lines became smudged in terms of Beryl. Many notable males boast the moniker including American basketball player Beryl Drummond (1918-1982) and former U.S. politician Beryl Anthony Jr. (born 1938).
Beryl first came into existence as a name during the 19th century. It is believed to have possible Sanskrit roots and also has biblical associations since beryl is known as “God’s ornament”.
The exclusively boy name Beverley first got its start in life some time during the 19th century. From there, the third and decidedly extraneous “e” was dropped and the girl name Beverly rose from the ashes. Currently, the name has faded somewhat and is probably more recognizable as a posh area of Cali than a name fit for either gender.
Meaning “beaver stream” or “beaver meadow”, Beverley was originally the name of an Old English city. The boy’s version peaked in the 1920s; the girl’s in the 30s. It is believed that it may have first been used as a female name by American novelist George Barr McCutcheon in his 1904 book Beverly of Graustark.
Presently, many expectant parents appear to be passing over Beverly for its trendier little sister - the hip girl name Everly. Although Beverly has paled in popularity - it still manages to make an appearance now and again as proven by Bev, the overbearing matriarch on the current hit sitcom The Goldbergs.
The nice thing about the name Bryce is that it readily flip flops from gender to gender as necessary. Originally a name from France during the Middle Ages, the name was repurposed by the English and Scottish as a surname. It is believed to have Celtic beginnings - possibly derived from elements “bri” (meaning “force” or “strength”) or “brigh” (meaning “valor”). As a boy name Bryce currently ranks on the American charts at #131 but surprisingly didn’t make the cut as a girl name.
Despite this fact, actress Bryce Dallas Howard (daughter of director Ron Howard) may be the most current and notable female bearer of the name. For any 80s movie fans out there, a fresh faced John Cusack portrayed lovable dweeb Bryce in the 1984 movie Sixteen Candles.
Interestingly, Brice as a boy name currently ranks at #891 within the U.S. This name appears to have a slightly different origin story. Derived from the ancient Latin name Bricius, it means “speckled” or “freckled”. In terms of femininity however, the “y” far outnumbers the “i” spelling - ten to one.
Since we’re on the topic of 80s movies - it only makes sense that the name Corey peaked during the 80s. It played a pretty major role in many a mediocre film from that decade thanks to the Hollywood duo known as the “two Coreys” (Corey Feldman and the late Corey Haim).
Where girls are concerned, the name has lost much of its luster alongside Lori and Tori. Jumping back to the 80s (and John Cusack flicks), actress Lili Taylor played Corey Flood in the 1989 movie Say Anything. The 80s appear to be the decade where the name Corey - for either boy or girl - came on strong. Unfortunately, it’s been on a steady decline as of the 90s.
The origin stories behind Corey are many. One has it starting out as a surname arising from the Gaelic term “coire” meaning “seething pool” or “hollow”. Another claims it to be the anglicized version of surnames rooted in the word “corra” which means “spear”. There is also talk of Corey being based on the Old Norse name Kori which has mysterious and unknown meaning.
Actress turned activist Daryl Hannah (born in 1960) may be the first to claim this name as female. Flouting tradition, her parents had grabbed the name while at its most popular - bestowing it upon their unsuspecting daughter. According to various sources, Daryl was picked on as a child due to having a male name. She even received a draft notice from the U.S. army due to the fact that the government got her gender wrong.
Dating back to the 11th century, the name got its start from “d’Airelle” which is how people hailing from the small French town of Airelle were referred to back in the day. At first mainly found as a surname, it didn’t take long for Daryl to make the leap to first name status.
Expectant parents can flaunt their creativity in terms of spelling - Darrell is quite popular as is throwing an inessential apostrophe in there to form D’Aryl.
The name Dexter has endured its share of peaks and valleys from the 1980s onward - but it’s always been around, quietly lurking in the shadows. It was at its most popular in 2012, possibly experiencing revival thanks to Michael C. Hall’s portrayal on Dexter - the serial killer with a heart of gold.
Dexter may have had a tarnished image in the past - once considered straight and studious-sounding (think “poindexter”) then sly and murderous - it appears to have shaken off any negativity and come out all the stronger. It’s a sleek and modern choice for either gender - and just so happens to have an “x” smack dab in the middle - a quality that’s all the rage in names right now. Plus it shortens nicely to Dexie or Dex.
Dexter began life as an occupational surname meaning “one who dyes” in Old English. In Latin, “dexter” refers to being “right-handed” or “skilled” as in “dextrous”. As a boy name, Dexter currently ranks at #411 in the U.S. and #79 in England and Wales.
Singers Diana Krall and Elvis Costello named their son Dexter. On the feminine side, actress Diane Keaton named her daughter (now 21) Dexter.
In 1930, Dolores was the 13th most popular name for a girl in America. But what many don’t realize is that it also happened to be an extremely trendy choice for either girl or boy. While citizens of most Spanish and French-speaking countries were more likely to name their sons Dolor, there were still many little boys named Dolores walking around.
This highly religious name is originally Spanish and means “sorrows” as in the word “dolorous”. In fact, the Spanish title for the Virgin Mary is actually Maria de los Dolores - translating into “Mary of Sorrows”. It made its way into English speaking society as a potential first name some time during the 19th century.
While currently not making any waves on the naming charts, it still crops up here and there. Dolores was the name of the main character in Wally Lamb’s 1992 novel She’s Come Undone and there was also the character of Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter franchise.
Everyone knows a guy named Doug. But does anyone know a gal named Doug? It’s unusual to see a name go from feminine or unisex to exclusively male but that’s what appears to have happened with the name Douglas. The site nameberry.com assures readers that choosing the name Douglas would be a “radical female choice” nowadays - we here at BabyGaga whole-heartedly agree.
The name Douglas has an interesting back story. It started out life as a surname derived from Gaelic name Dubhglas with “dubh” meaning “dark” and “glas” meaning “blue” or “gray”. Dubhglas was a Celtic river name and it is believed that the surname arose from people who lived within the river’s vicinity. It began circulating as a given name some time during the 16th century.
Despite peaking in the 1950s and fading considerably since then, the name has never truly disappeared. As of 2015, Douglas resided at #68 on the U.S. baby naming chart although trendy alternatives such as Dougal are more likely to be snapped up by hipster parents.
It may seem hopelessly old fashioned nowadays, but referring to a woman as “Enid” back in the day was one of the highest compliments due to its romantic associations. It first became popular after the 1859 poem Idylls of the King by Alfred Lord Tennyson. Yet many felt it emitted a more masculine and mysterious vibe - hence the hiccup to occasional male usage. While anyone would be hard-pressed to locate a male Enid in North America, individuals would be more likely to run across one in Europe - especially in Sweden. One such example is Bosnian athlete Enid Tahirovic born in 1972.
Originating in Wales, it is believed Enid is derived from the word “enaid” which means “soul” or “life”. Enid was also the wife of Geraint, one of King Arthur’s knights of the round table. Interestingly enough, Enid is also sometimes considered to be the feminine version of male name Aiden.
A couple of quirky namesakes include Enid of the 1992 Barenaked Ladies song as well as the character name of Thora Birch in the 2001 movie Ghost World.
The name Evelyn started out life as an English surname based on the French name Aveline. It began appearing as a popular first name in the 1600s - but mainly for boys. However, once it made the switch to the fairer sex, it never returned. Currently, the name Evelyn resides at #20 in Canada, #22 in Australia and #34 in Mexico.
Not only is Evelyn a soft and lyrical-sounding name, but it also has an equally beautiful meaning - “wished for child”. During the 1910s, Evelyn was #12 in popularity as a girl name and more than 100 years later, it has only dropped three spots within the U.S. where as of 2015 it resided at #15.
Both actor Bruce Willis and actress Carey Mulligan have daughters by the name. And on an interesting side note, British male writer Evelyn Waugh (1903-1966) married a woman by the name of Evelyn Gardiner. In order to allay confusion, they went by “He-Evelyn” and “She-Evelyn”.
Another gender-bending name that may take readers by surprise is Florence. Derived from the Latin name Florentius (or the feminine Florentia), the name is borne from the word “florens” which translates into “flourishing” or “prosperous”. Florentius or the anglicized Florence christened many early saints - and from there many people began bestowing it upon their sons. In Ireland, the name was commonly found among boys born during the late 1800s. It makes sense as it’s really not all that different from the name Lawrence.
Heading down a different road, the Italian city is sometimes cited as the inspiration behind the name. Case in point is that of Florence Nightingale (1820-1910), often considered to be the founder of modern nursing practices - she was born in Florence.
Currently, the name Florence ranks at #23 in England and Wales and may be making somewhat of a comeback thanks to lead singer Florence Welch of the hip band Florence + The Machine.
The name abbreviates sweetly to Florrie, Flossie and even Flo and is a variant of another one-of-a-kind vintage moniker - Flora.
Another name resulting in a bit of his or her pause is Gena. From a female perspective, the name is considered to have roots in Greek and Old French. Meaning “noble aristocrat” or “juniper tree”, it is sometimes used as short form for names Eugenia or Geneva.
While the name Gene has proven infinitely more popular for boys, Gena is on the radar - especially in Russia. Sometimes used to abbreviate longer boy names like Gennadiy or Genya, it’s also a valid name unto itself. It is believed to be a latinized version of a Greek boy’s name meaning “noble” or “generous”.
For girls, the name Gena offers an alternative spelling to the more popular name Gina. However, in some cases it may be pronounced Jenna - as in the case of American actress Gena Rowlands (born in 1930), although her birth name is actually Virginia.
As a female name, Gena was a somewhat popular choice until the 1800s when it disappeared before returning with a vengeance during the 1960s. Since that time, it has managed to vanish once again.
Glen may hit the mark for expectant parents - it’s short and sweet, simple to spell and has a nature-loving quality to it. Best of all - it’s perfect for boy or girl. Boasting Scottish and English roots, Glen started out as a surname derived from the Gaelic term “gleann” meaning “valley”.
Once upon a time, Glen was thought to be an exclusively male name - that is until 1947 when American actress Glenn Close was born. Less than 10 years later, another actress would unknowingly follow suit - Glenne Headly was born in 1955. Despite the fact that the name still hasn’t managed to catch on as a potential girl name, both these actresses introduced the idea of taking a solely masculine name and repurposing it for a girl.
A few other pluses include the fact that Glen has a sweeter ring to it than either Glenda or Glenna - also it’s practically impossible to abbreviate further. For parents looking to put a more modern spin on it, consider Glyn or Glynne.
Another melodic name on par with Evelyn that began as a distinctly male moniker is Jocelyn. In fact, in France Jocelyn remains an exclusively male name. For girls, the spelling is changed to Jocelyne.
Originally a Germanic name, it had a variety of spellings including Gautselin and Gauzlin. The Normans introduced the name to England as Goscelin or Joscelin and it remained a common boy name until the 14th century.
Six hundred years later, it made a reappearance but suddenly was a girls-only name. It hit its highest point in trendiness in 2007 and has been slipping ever since. Today, Jocelyn ranks at #133 in the U.S. and at #95 in Mexico (for girls). People love it for the lyrical sound and feminine “lyn” ending - similar to more popular names like Carolyn and Evelyn. It is also a prettier version of stalwart classic name Joyce.
Nicknames include Joss or Josie and an interesting variant is Yoselyn.
Lyle is a winner on all counts - it rolls off the tongue, is short and sweet, a quirky alternative to more popular names like Kyle or Tyler and is perfect for either gender.
While generally used as a masculine name, nameberry.com lists Lyle as either male or female. They even go so far to say that it seems to be an out-of-fashion choice of name for a boy, yet a hip-sounding modern alternative for a girl. But we beg to differ - it’s still a fine name for a boy as proven by hot, young, up-and-coming actor Lyle Lettau who plays Tristan on Degrassi: Next Class.
The name Lyle began life as an English surname derived from the French term “l’isle”. Any individual living on an island was christened with Lyle as a surname. Whatever the case, the name reached its high in the 1920s and has definitely dimmed since then.
The name Sasha first came into existence as a unisex nickname for either Alexander or Alexandra. It is no longer only relegated to nickname status - but still works well for either boy or girl.
Meaning “defender” or “helper of mankind”, Sasha has a distinct Russian flavor. It was first introduced to France some time during the 20th century and skyrocketed in popularity from there - reaching its highest peak in 2009. As a girl name, it currently ranks at #542 in the U.S. and at #377 in England and Wales. In France, the gender race is neck and neck - for girls it ranks at #135 and for boys #128.
North American society tends to favor Sasha for girls while the exact opposite tends to be true in most European countries. Some popular examples of the name in action include Jerry Seinfeld’s daughter Sascha born in 2000. Former U.S. President Barack Obama’s youngest daughter is also Sasha - though her full name is Natasha. And comedian/actor Sacha Baron Cohen represents for the boys.
Early usage has Shane as an exclusively male name although in some instances it was used as a female nickname for Hebrew name Shoshannah. First seen as an anglicized version of Irish boy names Seaghan or Sean, Shane is also considered to be a form of Eoin (the Gaelic variant for John). Whatever the case, Shane hit the ceiling on its popularity as of the 1970s.
The name Shane was embraced by the U.S. soon after the release of hit Western flick Shane (1953) starring Alan Ladd. Translating into something along the lines of “God is gracious”, Shane currently ranks at #71 in Ireland, #295 in the U.S. and #451 in the Netherlands.
As a potential girl name, Shane is still under the radar though a few ripples have appeared. There is a female character named Shane on the show Gilmore Girls. As well, comedian/actor Eddie Murphy named his daughter Shayne (born in 1995).
A couple of interesting variants of the name include Shay and Shaylene.
Currently, the name Wallace is listed for both boy or girl on nameberry.com - despite the fact that in the past the female version was typically spelled Wallis. Possessing a definite vintage feel, the boy name Wallace enjoyed some popularity among Hollywood actors as well as regular folk early in the 20th century.
Derived from a Scottish and English surname meaning “Welsh” or “foreigner”, history has the name first being used as a given name in honor of Sir William Wallace - the Scottish hero who led a rebellion against English invaders from Scotland during the 13th century. The 1995 blockbuster movie Braveheart made William Wallace a household name in the 90s and also showcased a much younger and much less controversial Mel Gibson.
In terms of feminine examples of the name in action, Wallis Simpson is probably the most notable bearer. She was the American socialite (who also happened to be a divorcee) who King Edward VIII abdicated the throne for in 1936.
The name Wilma is still probably most associated with the red-headed wife of animated caveman, Fred Flintstone. Meaning “resolute protection”, it is sometimes considered the female alternative to William or as an abbreviated version to longer name Wilhelmina. German settlers first brought Wilma to the U.S. in the 1800s where it hit the ground running. On American soil, it enjoyed top honors by sitting within the top 100 girl names from 1912 until 1940.
What might amaze is the fact that during the 1920s, Wilma was considered a perfectly acceptable boy name option as well. In 1921, it wormed its way onto the chart for popular boy names - albeit quite low on the list at #2032. By today’s standards, the name Wilma - for either boy or girl - holds about as much clout as the name Wilbur or Beulah. So here’s a second shocker: Wilma is currently sitting pretty in modern day Sweden where it ranks at #9 for girls.
A few other variants which may strike a chord include Elma, Minna and Vilma.
Sources: BehindTheName.com, NameBerry.com, IMDB.com, BabyCenter,com, BabyNameWizard.com, Babble.com