The new celebrity parenting trend these days is to steal a boy name to use for a daughter. It's something that caused fans to raise their eyebrows with interest more than once when stars like Jessica Simpson, Kristen Bell and Mila Kunis have a baby and the name announcement breaks the internet.
The truth is that parents have been stealing boy names for baby girls for decades. Did anyone even know that Shannon and Stacey used to be boy names? The same is true for Leslie and Lindsay, which have been considered for the girl column for more than 40 years now. These days, though, sometimes it feels like no name is safe. Parents are considering names that were always considered masculine and macho like Wyatt, and they are even taking some names that date back to biblical times for boys. Many times, the names first end up in the unisex category before making their way out of the boy category entirely, and some of the names on our list are well on their way to that. Others still stand out for a girl, and that is something that a lot of parents want these days. Considering research that shows that resumes with male names on them get more attention than those with female ones, it's not a bad trend to latch onto.
Here are 25 names that aren't just for boys anymore.
The name James has been used for boys since biblical times. It was the name of one of Jesus's apostles in the New Testament, and it has remained very popular throughout the history of the United States. In fact, one of the first colonies in America was known as Jamestown. According to the Social Security Administration, James has been the most popular pick for boys for the past 100 years, with nearly 4.8 million bearing the name over that time period. Obviously, it's a great name choice, and we guess that's why all of a sudden it's now going to the girls.
A few decades ago, people feminized the name by making it Jamie. But now a days, parents just stick with James, even for their little girls.
The trend really took off when Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds named their daughter James in 2014. Some moms choose to keep that in the middle spot, but Jaime King used to be known as James, and Blake and Ryan taught us that it definitely could work for the first name. We're not sure if this name will flip in popularity like Shannon and Stacey did, but it might trend more toward a unisex name that just a boy's name in a few years.
This name used to be a clearly for the boys — a shortened version of Andrew that somehow we figured out works great for the girls. It doesn't seem strange at all, even though there are still so many boys named Andrew — Drew Barrymore's name may have seemed out there decades ago when she starred in "E.T." But now that we've known her for more than 30 years, no one would bat an eye at a baby girl Drew.
We all seemed a little shocked when Jessica Simpson named her girl Maxwell Drew, thinking it was strange for both names to be boy names. But then we realized the Drew Barrymore reality and we forgave the middle name really quickly. The name does mean "strong and manly," according to Nameberry, but moms can just leave the manly part out when they tell their daughters.
We all want our little girls to grow into strong, confident women, and this name definitely evokes that image.
The name Drew is less popular for boys these days than it was a few decades ago, but we think it's going to surge a little more for girls and that might mean that it actually surpasses the boy popularity. It's a short-but-sweet one-syllable name, and it's got the down-home tone that we love.
If there was ever a name we thought would never make this list, Wyatt might be it. The name evokes such an image of a masculine cowboy — we can practically smell the pheromones and the sweat when we think of it.
But a few years ago, Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis taught us that it's a name that could work well on a darling little daughter. They named their little girl Wyatt Isabelle, and the combination of the super masculine and the super feminine just somehow seems so right.
Wyatt is a name that started a major resurgence in the 21st century. The name, which means "brave in war," was made known by the cowboy lawman Wyatt Earp, but it remained outside of the top 500 pretty much all of the 20th century until the 1990s when it jumped up nearly to the 10p 100. In the most recent data, the name was 25th in popularity — but that was for boys. We think that the popularity will remain high for a while there. There are only a few girls with the moniker, and we like how the name stands out, but we don't think it's going to take over. We think that most bosses will assume that a resume from a Wyatt is from a man, but they won't be too surprised in a decade or two if it turns out that it is from a woman.
Lincoln is another very strong name that we thought worked best for boys — that is, until people started trying it out on their daughters and we couldn't be more impressed.
Lincoln is technically a place name, according to Nameberry, as it means "town by the pool." But we all know what it is really about in the United States. For us, it stands out as the name of the 16th president, the one who freed the slaves and keep us united by winning the Civil War. Lincoln is often named as people's favorite president, so it isn't a surprise that people want to use it for their children. We all would love for our child to be president one day, so this name carries some weight.
For boys, the name has had its ups and downs, but in the 21st century, it rose from somwhere around the 900 mark into the top 100 popular names for boys at No. 41 last year, according to Nameberry. A few years ago, actors Kristen Bell and Dax Shepherd chose the name for their daughter, and it made us all go hmmm for a moment. We haven't had a female president yet, but we all believe our daughters could make it, so a presidential name is certainly just as appropriate for the girls as the boys.
One of the coolest names of the last decade or so has been Phoenix.
We're not sure why it has been on the rise so much, but it seems like most of us know at least three or four kids under 10 with that name these days — and some of them may even be girls. The first time we heard that name was as a last name for River and Joaquin Phoenix, and their parents were definitely hippies. But the name has really caught on as a first name now, and it might be because of hipsters, but it seems like parents who don't fit that mold are also latching onto the name.
This moniker has the added benefit of being both a place name — as the city in Arizona — and an amazing legend. The mythological bird would rise out of its own ashes, and that's definitely the kind of inspiration that we want for our kids. Harry Potter books reminded us of this story, and that might be what sparked the rise in popularity that has brought it to No. 268 among boys. There are a number of celebrities who have chosen it for their daughters, including Mel B, also known as Scary Spice, actor A.J. Buckley and Real Housewife Dorit Kemsley. Nameberry places Phoenix at No. 363 for girls, so it's nearly as popular for girls as it is for boys these days.
Girls have a lot of color names that are used for baby names — Scarlett, Ruby, Amber, Coral, even Blue. The boys had fewer that were set aside for them, but Gray was a good one.
It had a kind of panache and coolness about it, and while it has stood apart for a long time, it also got a fresh look in recent years as an alternative to the once uber-popular Grayson. But now, this one isn't just for the boys anymore, it's also becoming a choice for parents of daughters.
Grayson is still the more popular choice, just inside the top 100 baby names list, and it is being used for both boys and girls. But Gray is definitely becoming more common. It's the name of a former California governor and one of the boys from "Jurassic World." But for girls, it's also the name of Jennifer Garner's character in the movie "Catch and Release" and one of the female characters on "Jane by Design." Harry Hamlin and Lisa Rinna, the actors who are on one of the Real Housewives series, gave their daughter Amelia the middle name Gray, and Jenny Van Oy, who we used to watch on "Blossom," named her daughter Gray Audrey. It definitely works for both genders, even though we once thought it was just for the boys.
How many Ryans do you know? I can think of five off the top of my head, and they are all male — and they range in age from 50s to 5. But there is a growing spate of little girl Ryans, and we have to note that this name could end up being considered unisex pretty soon.
It's an Irish name that means "little king," but we don't see why it couldn't belong to a little princess as well.
For the first half of the 20th century, the name was used but not very common. Then it took a meteoric rise over a few decade, possibly thanks to the popularity of Ryan O'Neill, to become one of the most popular names of the '70s and ever since. The name has started to dip a bit to No. 43 in 2017, according to Nameberry. But it's also been used by the girls since the 1980s, going up to around No. 350 and back down again to its current spot at No. 410. Rodney and Holly Robinson Peete gave it to their daughter, and we've seen a couple of girl Ryans on competition shows such as American Idol and Master Chef Junior. Most notably, actress Haylie Duff recently named her daughter Ryan, as did Steph and Ayesha Curry.
Elliot is a name that is just about as popular for girls as it did for boys. We're not sure how that happened because it doesn't have a very feminine kind of sound with the hard t at the end. The name is an anglicization of the name Elijah, which we can see becoming a girl name even more, but instead, it's Elliot that has really latched on in recent years. It's still more popular for boys at No. 161 compared to No. 609 for girls. Yet, we seem to meet more little girl Elliots than boys, so it seems to be fairly unisex at this point.
One positive for the name is that it can make one of the most awesome nicknames that a little girl can have — "Ellie."
The name may have switched over to the girl side because of the character Elliot on "Scrubs." It's also a surname that can turn into a good first name to honor family members. George Stephanopoulos and his wife Ali Wentworth named their daughter Elliot, and we can see the appeal. It somehow seems traditional but not. We imagine it's a serious little lady who is so smart but also knows how to make everyone laugh.
The name August is a great name that is starting to hit a surge from parents who love vintage names. That's especially true for boys, but girl moms are also giving the name a try. That's because it has this great austere edge to it. It's a word name that is a good summer choice. It means "majestic and venerable," and this is one of the names that sounds just like means. We definitely hold them in high regard because they must be smart and nice because of their name, whether they are a boy or a girl.
There are girl options for the name August, such as Augusta and Augustina, but going with the masculine version for a girl is more popular than either of those feminized versions.
There are about 100 baby girl Augusts born each year, compared to 600 boys, but that is still a very high percent. There are a number of celebrities who have chosen the name for their daughters, including Garth Brooks and Charlize Theron. Probably one of the most well-known is Mark Zuckerberg's second daughter. We are certain that they are sweet and serene. They have an elegance and confidence that make them successful at everything they try. We love this choice, no matter the baby's gender.
The thing about Noah is that it has always been for a boy or a girl. In fact, while everyone knows the story of Noah and his ark from the Bible, there is also a female character with the same name in the Good Book. In recent years, Noah has become an extremely popular baby name, especially since the turn of the new century. In fact, it's the No. 2 name in the nation for boys right now, but it's not just the boys who are getting the name.
While Noah is the most popular spelling for boys, the more popular version for girls is to leave off the h and make it Noa.
That name is No. 728 in terms of popularity for girls, and it's actually the No. 1 name for baby girls in Israel right now. The name has a beautiful lilt, and it means "movement or motion," which reminds us of the ark after the storms have calmed. Miley Cyrus has a sister named Noah, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu named his daughter Noa. It's a beautiful name, and so we definitely get why parents have embraced it for their children no matter their gender.
Max is a name with a lot of history — and it wasn't too long ago that it would conjure the image of a blue-collar man with a mustache who works hard to support his family and be kind to his friends.
But now, the name isn't just for the boys, so you're just as likely to meet a girl who has all the sugar and spice on top of all the elements that we have mentioned, minus the moustache.
It's a nickname that just denotes a true friend, whether a boy or a girl.
There have been female versions of the names Max for a long time, including Maxima and Maxine, but those haven't been used much in the United State until now. On top of that, some people are choosing to just skip the long version and going for the nickname, even for girls. And we can't forget Jessica Simpson, who gave her daughter the male version of Maxwell. That means that they are all starting to sound unisex. Mark Zuckerberg has a little princess Max and there are a ton on TV. We think that the name continues to have the connotation of hard-working and loyal and just a good person.
We can thank Mark Twain for the name Sawyer. It may have been occasionally used in the past, but good ol' Samuel Clemens created a character in Tom Sawyer that we all loved. The boy was all about frogs and overalls and making some mischief, but we knew underneath that he had a good heart and he was a good friend. It's no wonder that the name has surged to become a part of the American lexicon and a very popular baby boy name. The name had a meteoric rise from outside of the top 1000 before the 1990s to No. 95 in 2017 for boys.
But parents have also found favor in the name for little girls.
While some little girls might squirm at putting a worm on a hook to fish, there are thousands who love it. So why not use the great name for them too?
Actors like Kyle Chandler and Sara Gilbert have used it for their daughters, and it's been used on television as well. In fact, Sawyer isn't all that far down the popularity list for girls. It's at No. 224, as of 2017, according to Nameberry. That image of a young Tom Sawyer is changing, and we think that the spirit works for anyone.
Any name that ends in the word "son" has a meaning that really applies to the boys. That is true for Carson, which mean "son of the marsh dwellers," but that doesn't stop a number of moms from going with the name that has big tomboy appeal. Even with the ending, we think it's close enough to call it unisex, even though there are still a lot more boys who get the name than girls. We think it works great no matter the gender.
Probably the most famous female Carson is Carson McCullers, an American writer who was one of the leaders of the Southern Gothic style. She wrote "The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter," and that novel was enough to make her a legend in literary circles. There are a lot more men with the name, including Carson Daly, which reminds us of our MTV days, and Carson Palmer, a pro football player. The name is pretty traditional, but it still feels very new — it started to rise in the 1990s and plateaued around the top 100 mark for the past decade. It crosses over well, and we think that this one is now firmly a name that is no longer just for the boys.
This may be one of the only names on our list where the number of girls with the name has outpaced the boys.
There are a lot of names where that has happened, but most were from half a century ago — Leslie, Sandy, Shannon and the like. Sydney is a much more recent trend, and parents did kind of flip it, mostly choosing to go with the spelling with a y on a girl instead of the i that used to be for the boys.
Now, instead of feeling like a boy name that girls are stealing, it feels like a trendy location name, as Sydney is a major city in Australia. Sydneys are really cool pre-teen girls, but a boy Sidney still somehow seems like he wears glasses and a pocket protector. Maybe it'll become cool again, since Jason Biggs named his son Sid, but we think that the girls have this one. In fact, the name had actually risen into the top 25 for a few years at the beginning of the 21st century, although it's lost its momentum and is now just outside of the top 100. This name has totally become the Shannon of this generation — it doesn't even sound like a boy's name anymore.
There may be some people who forgot that Bailey was once a boy's name. It's come a long way since the days when it's most famous iteration was the ol' Bailey Building and Loan, where it was the last name of the lovable George Bailey in "It's a Wonderful Life." The name has the same spirit it did for ol' Georgie, who was a leader in the community with a heart of gold and a loyalty like no other. The name really jumped to the top when we all got a big crush on Bailey Salinger on "Party of Five." The name spiked big time, heading up the charts more than 800 points in one or two years alone.
While the name became a favorite for little guys for a short period, it quickly turned to a major option for the girls, remaining around the 100 mark since the turn of the century and now at No. 125, according to Nameberry. In his role as Bailey, Scott Wolf was just as lovable and sweet as the Jimmy Stewart was, and that wholesome, good-intentioned heart can still apply to girls who bear the name.
They are very special, whether they are boys or girls. We love Bailey, no matter what.
We always think of Dylan as a guy with swagger. Between Bob Dylan and our favorite '90s crush Dylan Walsh, it's a name that elicits an image of cool and confidence. We're not sure why those traits can't apply to girls, and that's why many parents have decided that the name isn't just for boys anymore.
It's a favorite for anyone who likes the Welsh name that instantly registers casual cool wit a spunk and honest nature.
Boy or girl, soccer player or poet, it's a name that demands respect, and that's why it has become so popular in recent years.
Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas named their son Dylan, but Robin Wright and Sean Penn chose the name for their daughter. The name means "son of the sea," but it still has this poetic quality that makes is appealing beyond the gender stereotype. For boys, the name has been among the top 50 for a couple of decades. It's not as popular for girls, but it's risen for around the 900 mark of baby names to 353 in 20 years. Despite the meaning, it's a name that could work well for either sex, since there are cool kids of any gender.
This name is pretty similar to Sydney in our minds. It was a tried and true boy name that became a favorite for the more educated and a little high-brow bunch. The name, which can be spelled Emory or Emery, was fairly popular from the 1800s through the 1940s, but it dropped down the popularity list from there and was out of the top 1,000 for a few decades. That was true for both spelling variations.
But in the vein of vintage names it seems to be making a comeback — this time, though, it's coming back quicker on the girls side.
According to Nameberry, Emery surged from the 800 mark to No. 115 for the girls. Emory has risen too, and it is somewhere around 6o0. We think that part of the appeal for daughters is that it is a way to get to the Emme or Emma sound without going with the uber popular Emma and Emily. While we know some boy Emerys still, they are in the minority now. The name means "industrious," and while that might not seem so special, it is definitely a trait that we want our daughters to hold these days. We think the name is great for a little guy or girl, and it's the next big unisex thing.
The name Peyton is very masculine — it means "fighting-man's estate." And it is the name of one of the most legendary quarterbacks in football history, Peyton Manning, who has been named to the Pro Bowl four times and twice won the Super Bowl. But even though he has been synonymous with being a giant among men, his name is one that isn't just for the boys. The name — which could be spelled with an e or an a — has been used a lot for girls as well in recent years.
The name has been out there a long time, although we think that it was more frequently a last name. It surged in the 1990s, probably around the time that Peyton started getting national attention as a college player. But while the surge started for boys, it's continued for girls, charting up to No. 89 in 2017, according to Nameberry. Spelled Payton, the name had a rise that almost went into the top 100 for boys in 2000, but it's arced back down to 794th in 2017, compared to 189th on the girls list that year. The girl on "One Tree Hill" may have accounted for the popularity leap among girls, although there have been characters of either gender with either spelling all over TV the past few decades. We think that this name is now truly in the unisex category, and moms and dads have it on their lists no matter what the baby will be.
Sailor is another name that switched from pretty much solely male to the point now where there are more girls being given the name than boys. It's an occupational name, and historically, this is a occupation where ships — especially military ones — were filled with men. There were not many female sailors, so it made sense that there were very few girls with that name. Little boys were the ones who had anchors and sailboats on the walls of their nursery, but that's not the case anymore.
These days, the occupation remains dominated by men, but there is a growing occupation of girls on ships.
The name could be spelled Sailor or Saylor, and there are about as many baby boys with each version, totalling about 100 each year.
But the number of baby girls has grown to about 1000 each year, according to Nameberry. Actress Liv Tyler gave it to her son, but around the same time Bristol Palin and Kristin Cavallari gave it to their daughters. The name reminds us of being on the ocean, so we immediately conjure up the image of a child on a boat with the breeze in his or her hair and a smile on their face. The name definitely works for both, and no longer just belongs to the boys.
One of the most popular baby boy names ever is Michael, but a lot of people love the alternative Micah, which is also a Biblical name that means "who is like the Lord." This one is actually more historically male, as there was a female Michael in the Bible as well as a male one, but Micah is the version that is no longer just for boys these days. It's a pretty name that definitely has been making a comeback, and we think it's great for just about any kid.
Micah has had peaks of usage — it was really popular among 17th century Pilgrims to America, although it wasn't used much in the first half of the 20th century. The name rose quickly in popularity in the 1960s and '70s among boys, and it sits just outside the top 100 now. But it all started being used for the girls in the '70s, peaking around 2000 around the top 600 mark. These days, the name is just in the top 1000 for girls, so it's definitely still more often used for boys, but it's not solely for them. We like the -ah ending, although sometimes people leave off the h. That gives it a great soft ending that can work for either gender.
Nature names are a big trend these days, and most of the time, the girls have the biggest advantage in this category. That's thanks to flower names — Rose, Daisy, Lily, Violet — almost all of which are for girls. There aren't that many options for boys, but River was one that was once considered pretty masculine.
Now, though, it's a name that isn't just for boys, as a lot of moms enjoy going for a nature name for their daughter that isn't so, well, flowery.
The name sounded a bit like it was from hippy parents back in the '80s when we were introduced to River Phoenix. But we began to fall in love with it, and it's risen for the past few decades to reach No. 201 in 2017 for boys. There still are less girls who get the moniker, but the tide is rising even faster for them. Just since 2010, it's risen more than 500 slots to No. 274 for girls. Kelly Clarkson did a lot for the trend when she named her little girl River Rose in 2014, and there are also female characters in popular shows "Firefly" and "Doctor Who" with the name. We think this name is fully on the way to being unisex, and that's because it's a great nature name with a beautiful image.
When it first started to rise on the charts a couple of decades ago, Logan seemed all male to us. That might be because one of the most prominent uses of it was during the X-Men franchise. It's the name of Wolverine, which means when we hear it we think of the rippling muscles, mutton-chop and cigar puffing of Hugh Jackman. We can practically smell the pheromones when we think of him, and that's probably a big part as to why the name has jumped in popularity so much since the movie franchise has come out and Hugh became one of the biggest actors around.
But someone brilliant thought, "this name isn't just for the boys," and our vision of Wolverine has instantly disappeared. The name still has a lot of appeal as rustic and genuine, good-hearted and hard-working, but those traits can apply to both boys and girls. The name sky-rocketed during the '80s and is now at No. 5 for boys, but Nameberry also has it at No. 292 for girls. David Straitharn's wife is named Logan, and so is Jason and Jordan Mewes' daughter.
It's a strong name, but that doesn't mean it's just for the boys. Girls can be strong too, after all.
Jaden was one of the most popular names of the 2000s. That's thanks in large part to Will and Jada Pinkett Smith naming their son Jaden. The two actors were huge, and then Will put Jaden in several of his movies, and the little guy was so cute and sweet and just everything we wanted in our son. But most people don't realize that the name goes way back, even to Biblical times. It means "God has heard," and a few years ago there was at least one Jaden in every class in elementary school. Everyone from Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf to avid Boreanaz and Brandi Chastain have used the name for their sons.
But the name has also become more popular for girls as well. There is a beauty queen and a pop princess who have the name, and it even had a female characters in "The Starter Wife," Nikita" and "Material Girls."
Of course, there are a bunch of ways to spell Jaden, and even more for the female version — Jadon, Jadin, Jadyn, Jaiden, Jaydyn and so on.
Those multiple spellings makes it truly hard to track how popular the name is. It looked like the name peaked for girls in the last decade and has been used less frequently since 2010, but it's definitely considered a unisex name these days.
First there was Taylor — it was a great surname that became a first name that denoted a pretty cool boy who had an easy smile and a sweet personality. But then parents started naming their daughters that as well, and pretty sure it was no longer considered a boy name. Parents turned to Tyler, the cousin name that seemed fresh and even more interesting. It raced up to No. 9 on the popularity chart in the '90s, but it didn't take long. Now that name isn't just for boys anymore; it could also be the name of a little girl.
The name, which is another presidential surname like Lincoln, doesn't really have a meaning other than the occupation of putting down tiles. But it is a cool guy name that belongs to a lot of rockstars and actors and cyclists and football players. Of course, girls can be all those things as well, so it's no wonder that they are getting the name too. The popularity for girls also peaked in the '90s, but people might be surprised that it went all the way up into the 200s before it started going down. There are a lot of Tylers around, and a whole lot of them are girls.
The best way for a name to go from obscurity to the top of everyone's minds and hearts is for a celebrity to use it for their child. Even better, make it a Kardashian. Case in point is the birth of the very first of the next generation of the reality show family. When Kourtney and her boyfriend Scott Disick had their first child, they found a name that was familiar but not at all popular and they catapulted it to the top 10. Their little boy Mason started a big trend — and it isn't just boys who have benefitted from it.
Mason is also an occupational name that never really applied to women. There are very few women even today to work with stone and bricks, but the word name still calls to mothers who want their children to be a part of the trend. The name is definitely still more popular for boys, still ranking at No. 7 in the United States in 2017, but there are a number of girls who get the moniker, including Kelsey and Camille Grammer's daughter. The truth about many of the Kardashian baby's names has been an appeal to both sexes, with few exceptions. It might not seem as obvious for Mason, but it definitely rings true.
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