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25 Surprising Names That Switched From Boys to Girls

As your delivery date nears, the pressure to find a name is on. Baby name selection is exciting, yet difficult. In fact, the decision can be downright agonizing. But why is naming your offspring such tricky business?

The name you choose will be a driving force for your child’s identity. Not only do you have to find a name that you and your partner agree on, but this is the name your child will have forever. It’s the name your child will sign, the name your child will hear repeatedly, and the name that will follow your son or daughter everywhere they go. Ultimately, the name you choose will play a role in their destiny.

It’s vital to dig deep into the meaning and origin of names because you wouldn't want to uncover shocking facts later in life. One surprise aspect of baby names are the amount that seem like obvious girl names but, surprisingly, started out as names for boys. Technically, all of these names are unisex but at some point in time, they crossed the gender barrier in terms of popularity and never went back.

Before signing the birth certificate, you should know that certain feminine names were once traditionally masculine. Check out these 25 names that completely switched from blue to pink.

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25 Hilary

This Latin name can be spelled many ways, including Hillarie, Hilarie, Hillery, and Hillory. Historically, the name was mostly male. Men used the spelling Hilary, while women used Hillary. Today, the name is virtually all female.

The meaning of the name is cheerful and merry. Even though Hilary is one of those names that originated as a boy’s name, it has transitioned into a pretty girl’s name. Although it is much more common for females, its popularity on the girls chart has taken a hit, too. Hilary ranks #2499 for girls and #7285 for boys.

Hopefully, you like names with spin-offs because Hilary has a bunch of cutesy nicknames, including Hill, Hills, Hilly, Hillsy, Ri, and Riri. Celebrity namesakes include Sen. Hillary Clinton, singer Hilary Duff, and actress Hilary Swank. You may also remember the actress Karyn Parsons who played Hilary Banks on the TV sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

24 Kimberly

In the ‘80s, Kimberly was in its prime, sitting comfortably in the top 20. Originally a surname, its roots go back to England. It’s also a diamond mine city center in South Africa. Some say the name formed from the kimberlite rock in the mine.

This is another surprising name that was traditionally for boys. Today, it’s #5025 on the boy’s name chart. For the girls, however, the name sits just outside of the top 100 at #107.

Although it’s trending downward, many parents still realize its feminine appeal. Famous namesakes include hip-hop artist Kimberly Jones a.k.a. Lil' Kim, and socialite Kim Kardashian. Kim is also the sister of the late musician Kurt Cobain. And, you may remember the popular animated series for kids, Kim Possible.

23 Stacey

Stacey is not just a cute girl’s name, it’s also a traditional Greek name. It’s a short form of Anastasia. The long form of the name saw a sharp decline in the 1980s. Today, it ranks #3678 on the girl's name chart. It’s even lower on the boy’s name chart, ranking #8900. But, in the late ‘60s and ‘70s, Stacey rose all the way to #219 for boys.

Actor Stacey Keach made it a household name for males. For women, fans of the 1995 hit film Clueless will associate the name with actress Stacey Dash and her character Dionne who played Cher’s best friend. Also, Stacey Q was a one-hit wonder in the ‘80s with her song Two of Hearts.

There’s another famous Stacey but you probably don't recognize her by her full name, Stacey Ferguson. She is the singer who is better known as Fergie.

22 Lauren

People may find it odd that the name Lauren was once considered unisex. In fact, it had a long history as both a masculine and a feminine name. It makes sense when you think of a shortened version of the name Laurence, or the name Lorne. The male name disappeared from the charts in the 1980s but the female name grew.

Although Lauren was more popular in the 80s, it’s a name that never goes out of style. With the association with actress Lauren (née Betty) Bacall and fashion designer Ralph Lauren, the name feels classic yet contemporary.

Other popular namesakes include Lauren Conrad from the reality show The Hills, and model Lauren Hutton, née Mary Laurence Hutton.

21 Alexis

From Greek descent, Alexis means to defend or to help. Although it’s Alexis seems undeniably feminine, it was once thought of as a boy’s name. Today, it’s exclusively female.

Although Alexis currently ranks #86 on the name charts, this name was mega popular in the 80s, rising all the way to #46. TV’s primetime soap opera Dynasty may have played a part. Joan Collins played the dazzling character, Alexis Colby Carrington. There was another famous Alexis on the small screen. Alexis Bledel is an American actress who played Rory on the hit TV series The Gilmore Girls.

Alexis is a cool name that rolls off the tongue. You don’t need to repeat it, and others will understand the name immediately. And yet, you don’t hear it every day. A child with this name will stand out for the right reason.

20 Meredith

The name Meredith is a Welsh name that means great ruler. Although the meaning is strong, the connotation has a happy tone. Merry is a delightful nickname.

Meredith jumped in popularity for girls in the U.S. in the late '70s and the ‘80s. At that time, it ranked as high as #140 on the girl’s name chart. But you may not realize that it was once a popular name for males.

Famous people with the name include TV personality Meredith Vieira, and actress Meredith Baxter. It’s also the name of Taylor Swift’s kitten!

Alternate spellings include Meredyth, Merridith, and Meridath. Whether you use the spin-off Merry, Edith or Reddy, Meredith still works for girls today.

19 Aubrey

Aubrey is not your grandparent’s name anymore. Though it has an old-world, classic-sounding vibe to it, a time-honored name like Aubrey will never sound trendy. At the same time, it will never feel outdated. It's the best of both worlds.

The name, meaning elf ruler, is a German variant of Alberic. In America, it ranks high in position #21 on the girl’s name chart. It ranks way behind at #1632 on the boy’s chart but that was not always the case. Surprisingly, Aubrey used to be more popular as a name for males.

Hip-hop fans may recognize the name Aubrey Drake Graham as the artist better known as Drake. Perhaps his fame will bring back the popularity of the name for boys.

Parents may also like the name because they like the name Audrey but dislike how familiar it is. Aubrey is an elegant alternative, and a name any daughter would be proud to bear.

18 Michele

Michele is the French, feminine form of Michael, which means who is like God. For males, it is the Italian variation of Michael. At #192 on name chart, this moniker remains pretty popular with girls. However, the name for boys is used little in the United States.

While Michele is #10,750 for American males, the name is more popular abroad. Throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s, the name was everywhere. The Beatles probably had something to do with that, as their song Michelle had mothers swooning.

Although First Lady Michelle Obama has once again given the name visibility, the name has fallen out of the top 100. But with fabulous nicknames such as Mimi, Misha, and Shelly, it’s just waiting for a comeback.

17 Stevie

Stevie is the short form of the name Stephanie. This Greek name translates to garland or crown. Aside from the meaning, there is another royal association. It’s the name of Princess Stéphanie, the youngest child of Rainier III—the Prince of Monaco, and Grace Kelly.

Naturally, Stevie was strictly a boy’s first name but today, girls run the show. Although Stephanie ranks #208 on the girl’s name chart, Stevie ranks way down at #988 for the ladies. What’s interesting, though, is that the once male name Stevie ranks way lower than that for boys, coming in at #6360.

One undeniable reason for the popularity of the name is singer-songwriter Stevie Nicks who was born Stephanie Lynn Nicks. Although there are not many other famous females named Stevie, there are many celebrity associations with the name Stephanie.

16 Marley

Finding a name that is familiar yet uncommon is not an easy feat. Yet, there are so many names on this list that fit the bill. Marley is another one of these names.

Historically, the English name Marley was a location in England. Nature-loving parents will appreciate the meaning of this surname: pleasant seaside meadow. With a name inspired by Mother Nature, you can give your child a connection to the Earth and an appreciation of the beauty that surrounds us.

Although Marley was once more popular with boys, it’s a beautiful name for either gender. It currently ranks #218 for girls and #863 for boys. The bestselling book and subsequent movie “Marley and Me” may have given the name a lift.

But, the biggest influence has to be the singer/songwriter Bob Marley. He achieved international fame spreading his words of love and unity through reggae music. Perhaps with a name like Marley, you are destined to have a musical genius in the family.

15 Lindsay

Lindsay is another boy’s name turned girl’s name. From English origins, the name means island of linden trees.

In the 1890s, Lindsay ranked as high as #397 on the boy’s name chart. Today, it’s way outside of the top 1000. In fact, it almost doesn’t even make the top 6,000, sitting at #5993. But for girls, it’s a different story. Lindsay is well within the top 1000 for girls, sitting at #846.

You can’t deny the impact of the name Lindsay through pop culture references, although these days, the connotation isn't the most positive. Parents may be hesitant to bestow this name upon their daughters as long as the troubled actress Lindsay Lohan remains in headline entertainment news.

14 Quinn

With its distinctive Irish lilt, Quinn is a smart name in more ways than one. The name means wise, derived from the Gaelic surname O’Cuinn. Quincy and Quinton are other variations of the name. Although it was once reserved for men, Quinn is predominantly a girl’s name.

The name’s popularity rose for girls in the mid-1990s, partly due to the TV series Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. Quinn has also been a character in countless TV shows, from Zoey 101 to Glee. Aside from television, the name Quinn has found its way into mainstream titles. The Mighty Quinn is a 1968 folk-rock song written by Bob Dylan, and it’s also a 1989 movie starring Denzel Washington.

Namesakes with the surname include actors Aidan Quinn and Anthony Quinn. As a first name, many famous parents have chosen this name for their sons, including actresses Sean Young and Sharon Stone.

Although it’s a unisex name, Quinn is a pretty moniker for girls. You don’t need to repeat it, and others will understand the name immediately. And yet, it’s not your everyday name. A child named Quinn will stand out for the right reason.

13 Sydney

Sydney is a French name that comes from the name Saint Denis, which means wide meadow. About 20 years ago, the name changed genders. The nerdy boy’s name Sidney became the cool female name Sydney, and it hasn’t looked back. For boys, the name ranks #2607 but for girls, it’s flying high at #122.

As a famous namesake, it’s associated with actor Sidney Poitier. He has a daughter who is also named Sydney. The name also calls to mind the major city in Australia.

One great thing about the name Sidney is that it spans cultures and continents. Also, the elegant sound of the girl’s name is one reason for its name-fame. This adorable name also has many spellings, including Cidney, Sidnee, and Sidneigh.

12 Kennedy

Using Irish surnames as first names continue to trend, and Kennedy is a perfect example. The obvious association is with the Kennedy family, namely the assassinated statesmen Senator Robert F. Kennedy, and President John F. Kennedy. Long after their deaths, the name started to grow in popularity, especially with girls. Today, it’s #57 on the girl’s name chart and #879 for boys.

The great aspect of the name Kennedy is that it’s both trendy and classic. Names like these are historically rich and are always in fashion. A century from now, they will still be popular. Perhaps that’s why timeless names are re-emerging on birth certificates everywhere because they never go out of style.

Digging a little deeper into the meaning of names can help you narrow down the favorites on your list. Unfortunately, Kennedy means misshapen head. Although it’s a lovely-sounding name, its meaning may put a damper on your selection. If an obscure meaning is not a deal-breaker, Kennedy is a surname that works nicely as a first.

11 Paris

Paris, the cosmopolitan capital city of France, has a rich history and a romantic language. The city has played an important role in literature, film, cuisine, art, and fashion. It’s historic, yet modern; iconic and beautiful. The chic city has lots to offer, including inspiration for a baby name.

Not only is Paris a place on the map in France, it’s also a popular town and city name in the United States—23 locations to be exact. The residents of Texas, New York, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and several other states can visit Paris without leaving the U.S.

Technically, all city names are unisex. The universe is fair game. But as far as genders go, girls named Paris run the world. Pop culture has given the name a big boost. Famous bearers include socialite Paris Hilton, and daughter of the late King of Pop, Paris-Michael Jackson.

Yes, Sydney and London are classic, yet contemporary, too, but we really love the name Paris. Plus, it’s a well-known name, yet it’s virtually one-of-a-kind. How many monikers have that special combination?

10 Kelsey

Kelsey was originally an English surname that means island. The name ranks #4847 for boys and #344 for girls.

The name found fame in 1997, the year the TV show Cheers premiered. Kelsey Grammer played Dr. Frasier Crane on Cheers, and then successfully starred in the spin-off sitcom Frasier. But aside from Grammer and his son born in 2014, this is virtually a name reserved for girls.

There are a million and one ways to spell Kelsey: Kelcie, Kellsee, Kelsea, Kelseigh . . . take your pick. What’s great about this name is that it’s traditional. That means the name is safe and familiar, which is why so many parents are attracted to it. It’s also a name you don’t hear every day so it’s memorable. In this respect, Kelsey is the best of both worlds.

9 Peyton/Payton

The unisex surname Peyton is from English origins. Thanks to former football player Peyton Manning, the name’s popularity has grown in recent years for boys. Still, the name ranks higher for females. Peyton is #77 for girls, #260 for boys, and the alternative spelling Payton is #153 for girls. As a female name, you can also spell it Paityn or Paiton.

In Old English, the name means farm of Paega or royal. It’s a place name in Suffolk, England. It’s also an English variant of the name Patton, and an Irish variant of the name Patrick. We think Peyton has a southern-sounding flair such as Beau--another name rooted in the deep south. Say Peyton with a charming southern drawl and you’ll see what we mean.

The name is no stranger to pop culture. Peyton Place was a 1956 best-selling novel, a 1957 film starring Lana Turner, and a 1960s TV series starring Mia Farrow, which was also America’s first primetime soap opera.

8 Beverly

It’s no surprise that Beverly is a girl’s name but did you know it was once commonly a boy’s name? In the late 1800s, Beverly was a popular name for males in the South.

Beverly is an English name which means dweller near the beaver stream. It also bears a striking resemblance to the name Everly. With a sound as beautiful as its meaning, it makes sense that Beverly is still in the top #1000 for girls. The name for boys, however, is currently not ranked.

The most popular association is with the ritzy area in California, Beverly Hills. The name also has a pop culture connection. Beverly Johnson was a supermodel in the ‘70s and ‘80s. It is also the name of actress Beverly D’Angelo.

Although the name has a classic vibe to it, it’s far from dated. The more Beverly is used today, the more it adopts a retro, vintage charm.

7 Ashley

The sweet name Ashley is a long-established last name from English origins. The name meaning dweller near the ash tree meadow. So, it’s not only a surname, it’s also a "place" name.

People may find it odd that the name Ashley began exclusively as a boy’s name—at least, that’s how it was in the 1880s. Although it’s had a position on the girl’s name chart for decades, it’s had a long history as both a masculine and a feminine name.

In the ‘80s and ‘90s, Ashley soared to the height of popularity for girls. The luxurious brand Laura Ashley has given the name a lift, imparting an element of class in the name. In the last decade, though, parents have turned to the similar-sounding name Ashlyn. For boys, the name has evolved into Asher, Ashton, and Ash.

Famous namesakes include country singer and actress Ashley Judd, actress Ashley-Olsen—the twin sister to Mary-Kate, and from High School Musical fame actress Ashley Tisdale.

6 Madison

The origin of Madison comes from the English word meaning son of Maud. Over time, the name became Maudelyn and continued to transform into many other variations around the world including Marilyn and Madison.

Although it was once considered a boy’s name, it trends significantly higher for girls today. In fact, the name climbed as high as #2 for girls. Still, the name can cross over. Parents who choose Madison for their daughters tend to adopt alternative spellings such as Madisyn and Madysen.

Because of its feminine quality, Madison is a fantastic name. It has an element that imparts class, as in Madison Avenue, the ritzy shopping district of New York City. And with the great nickname Maddie, your little girl will thank you.

5 Dana

Ironically, Dana is an English name that currently ranks #851 for girls and #2790 for boys. These days, you don’t hear the name Dana often, especially for males. Traditionally, though, it was a masculine name.

There are many famous associations with the name Dana. There’s the female hip-hop artist Queen Latifah, whose real name is Dana Owens. There’s also the comic actor and Saturday Night Live alum, Dana Carvey. Dana was the middle name of the late singer Aaliyah. And the actress Dana Plato played Kimberly Drummond on the ‘80s TV sitcom Diff’rent Strokes.

Digging a little deeper into the meaning of names can help you narrow down the favorites on your list. Unfortunately, Dana means from Denmark. If you’re Danish, the name could pay homage to your family. If you’re not Danish, the meaning may put a damper on your selection. If an obscure meaning is not a deal-breaker, Dana is a short but sweet option.

4 Harper

There is a current trend to bestow names for girls that are surnames and names typically used for boys. Harper is a perfect example of this trend. It's a unisex name, yet its popularity reigns as a girl’s name. The name was originally used for boys until it almost disappeared from the charts in 1906. It reappeared on the girl’s list in the mid-2000s and has soared ever since. Currently, it ranks #10 for girls.

The name means—you guessed it—harp player. The origin of the name varies; some say it’s English, others say it’s French.

Much of its name-fame has to do with its Hollywood connections. Among the celebs who have chosen Harper for their daughters are actor Neil Patrick Harris, actress Jenna Fischer, Victoria and David Beckham, and Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl. It’s also the name of Harper Lee, author of “To Kill a Mockingbird”.

Although it’s more popular for girls, singer Paul Simon chose this name for his son. So, if you like the name, don’t hesitate to bestow Harper on a boy.

3 Mackenzie

At first, this name seems strictly for girls but this Scottish name means son of Kenneth. Mackenzie used to be a boy’s name. In fact, in Scotland and Ireland, the prefix Mac or Mc signifies son of. In the late ‘70s, Mackenzie began it’s climb as a popular girl’s name.

A major plus is the nickname Mac. Perhaps the adorable nickname is what wins parents over. Author J.K. Rowling must have agreed as she named her daughter Mackenzie.

There’s something marvelous about water. Flowing streams have a peaceful quality, and bodies of water are breathtaking sights. That’s probably why other river names such as Nile, River, and Jordan have taken off, too. Like the waterways, these names just flow. Pardon the puns but names inspired by water are current and slowly becoming more mainstream.

2 Camille

When it rolls off the tongue, Camille sounds as soft as cashmere and silk. It’s delightfully feminine, and yet North Americans may find it odd that Camille is considered a unisex name in France, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland. In France, the double L is pronounced with a Y sound; both women and men pronounce it kah-MEEY. In English-speaking countries, however, the name is pronounced kah-MEEL.

From Latin, the name translates to young ceremonial student. Despite the obscure meaning, the name became wildly popular in 1936. This was due to the film of the same name starring Greta Garbo, based on a novel by Alexandre Dumas.

This underused name is the middle name of socialite Nicole Richie and Will Smith’s daughter, Willow. Other famous namesakes include sculptor Camille Claudel, and male painter Camille Pissarro.

Though it has a classic vibe to it, Camille is far from dated. It’s just waiting for a comeback.

1 Shannon

The River Shannon is the longest river in Ireland, which is why the Irish surname used to be a popular first name for boys. Shannon means old and wise.

Shannon's boom for the girl’s began in the 1930s. Between the 1970s and the 1990s, the name was huge. It has since taken a dive in popularity. It currently ranks #1421 for girls and #2859 for boys.

You may associate the name with former 90210 actress Shannen Doherty, or American Pie actress Shannon Elizabeth. It’s also a namesake of the world of sports thanks to football player Shannon Sharpe, baseball player Shannon Stewart, and gymnast Shannon Miller.

Sources: Nameberry, BabyNameWizard, BehindTheName, Babble, Biography, IMDB

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