When our mothers (probably) and our grandmothers (definitely) were pregnant, knowing the gender came down to guessing games, like how low she carried, what tastes she craved and whether the object held over her tummy would swing. Having a painless, simple ultrasound that resulted in a near-positive gender prediction was unthinkable to her.
Today, you will have to go out of your way not to find out the gender of the baby you are carrying. You will have to tell countless relatives, friends, and even strangers, that no, you don't know the gender and have chosen not to find out.
Expect incredulous stares and the occasional whisper. Me, I couldn't do that. I am curious, some may say nosy, and love, love, love to plan ahead so waiting until delivery would take more self-control than I possess. I couldn't buy clothes. Paint the nursery in a definite gender way. And most of all, being a name-nerd, I couldn't pick out the name and start calling my baby by it unless I discovered the gender in my ultrasound. But there's a trend among newer parents. These daring and restrained folks are willing to wait until D-Day to find out, and many decide to pick a name that will work for either gender. I must admit; I never thought of picking a gender-neutral name at the time.
Blake is a name of contradictions. It comes from the Old English words blæc (meaning black or dark-complexioned) and blāc (meaning pale; bright; shining). So it'd be perfect if you are a couple who looks different from one another and have no idea if you are giving birth to a daughter or son. Can't go wrong with Blake! It will cover all your bases, so talk about playing it safe! Blake first became a popular cultural reference due to the character of Blake Carrington on 1980s hit TV show, Dynasty. He was the silver-haired patriarch portrayed by John Forsythe. Don't remember? Ask your mom! Since then it's become a bit more popular everywhere. There's the singer, Blake Shelton; acting beauty, Blake Lively; basketball star, Blake Griffin, as well as the late director Blake Edwards, of Pink Panther fame. Blake begs no nickname, with its short and sweet self.
Jordan is a gender-neutral name, but in the US it is used more for boys. For males, Jordan ranks #75, and for girls, #441 so far this year. While fairly popular, it reached its height in 1997 when it topped out at #26. It's hard to dispute that at least some of the name's favor came from the immense success of his airness, Michael Jordan who had his reign firmly in place in the 1990s. It comes from the Hebrew word, yarden, which means, "flowing downward." The river Jordan, incidentally, is where Jesus was baptized. Jordan can be shortened to Jordy or Jordi. Jorie or Jory are other options for nicknames. Perhaps today's hottest Jordan is Jordan Peele, the actor, director, writer and comedian who made Oscar history with his win for the film, Get Out.
Sage is another name that is pretty equally used for either gender. For girls, it currently ranks at #329, and for boys at #491. Sage is a herb, touted as a healing and cleansing plant. It also means, "wise." Both Greeks and Romans burned the herb, believing that it imparted wisdom. In the Arab world, around 900 AD, physicians believed that sage gave long healthy lives. It comes from Latin roots. It hit the name charts in 1963 with 2 out of every million babies and started to steadily rise around the 1990s, and in 2016, there were over 500 Sages per every million US babies. It seems to be a name on the rise. Sage Steele is a sportscaster, and movie producer Brian Grazer (frequent Ron Howard co-producer) named his daughter Sage, as has actress Toni Collette. Sylvester Stallone's son Sage, also an actor, tragically died of heart disease at age 36 (not of the rumored drug overdose). Sage needs no nickname.
Dylan is a name that rates higher for baby boys than girls but still is in some pretty gender-neutral territory. Girls come in at #368, where boys are at #47. It is a Welsh name meaning, "son of the sea." Dylan is a sea god in Welsh mythology. Many people have named children in honor of wordsmiths, the poet Dylan Thomas, and singer/songwriter, Bob Dylan. Dylan is a romantic, heroic name but that doesn't mean it can't work for a daughter, however! Dylan McDermott is an American Golden Globe-winning actor who starred in the TV show, The Practice and currently appears in a vastly different type of show, LA to Vegas. Dylan is what Olympic gymnasts Nadia Comaneci and Bart Conner named their son, born in 2006. Dylan could be called Dyl (pronounced Dill) or Dylie.
Aiden is a Gaelic name meaning, "little; fiery." The Celtic god, Aodh, was the god of fire and the sun. A beloved Irish saint was named Aiden of Lindisfarne and was known for being a prolifically traveling monk who was especially kind to animals. So you animal lovers out there, here's a name for you. In 2011, Aiden reached a high point in popularity for boys, at number 9. Today Aiden is ranking at #4736 for girls and #9 (again at high tide) for boys so far in 2018. So for those wanting an unusual boy's name, you may want to opt for Aiden as a middle name. For girls, sometimes an alternative spelling is appealing, such as Ayden or Aidyn, or even Aedyn. Nicknames include Aidy, Aidie or Den or Denni. Aiden Quinn is an American actor, and actress Tracey Gold (Growing Pains) named her son Aiden, as did singer Rod Stewart.
Devin is an Irish name that came from the Gaelic dámh meaning "poet." I must admit that I very nearly named my first daughter a variation of this name, Devon. Devon is actually a place name in England, however. Devin is preferred for boys over girls, with girls ranking it at #2960, and for boys #484. If you trace the name from French roots, as with divin, it means, "divine." Devin seems to have reached its apex back in 1995 (incidentally the year my daughter was born; that's why I decided in the hospital to switch it up. Another girl in the nursery had been given the name.) It reached number 58 then. Devin could be shortened to Dev, Vinnie or Devi. Devin Harris, Devin Booker, and Devin Smith are basketball players, while Devin Thomas plays in the NFL.
Emerson is a truly unisex name, with nearly equal usage today between baby boys and girls. In 2018 in the US, for girls, Emerson ranks at #196, while for boys it's at #196. So there isn't really a gender preference. Emerson is of Old English roots, and means simply, "Emery's son." Emery came from German origins and means, "brave power." There was a French saint dubbed Emerus in the 700s. Writer Ralph Waldo Emerson would be a great inspiration and many of his quotes would make great quotes to adorn the walls of baby Emerson's nursery. Just a decorating tip! Emerson is the name of actress Teri Hatcher's daughter, as well as super TV producer Shonda Rhimes' daughter. Nicknames, depending on gender, could include Emery, Em or Emmie. You could also try Emer or Emerie.
Harper is a high-flying name of late and wasn't a popular US name until the 2000s. Previously it was known as a male name in the very early 1900s. Now it's shot to near the top, with it being placed at #169 for boys so far this year and #8 for girls. Harper is an English occupational name for a harpist. Harper Lee is perhaps the best-known Harper, having written what many consider to be one of the greatest novels in American literary history, To Kill a Mockingbird. Many celebs have chosen Harper for their children including David and Victoria Beckham, Ali Wentworth and George Stephanopoulos, and Lisa Marie Presley, but also Bill Hader, Neal Patrick Harris, and Dave Grohl. Harper was one of the main characters in the TV show Wizards of Waverly Place, which starred Selena Gomez.
London is, of course, a place name for the capital of England. Many also consider naming their child after the classic writer, Jack London. It is much more likely to be given to a baby girl in the US, with it rating #147 for girls, and for boys, it rates at #848. Some give the name's meaning as "fortress of the moon." London was a character on the TV show, The Suite Life Of Zack and Cody. Celebs such as Carson Daly, former NBA player and sports analyst Kenny Smith and also rapper Manafest have named daughters London. London could be shortened to Lonnie or Don, or even Donnie. London is a great choice for an anglophile, or someone who did an ancestry test and found out that they are predominantly British.
River has to this point been mainly a boy name, but after singer Kelly Clarkson named her daughter River, the numbers seem to be on the rise for girls and perhaps they will even out with boys. River is a Latin geographical name, for the obvious, river. In 2018, so far, boys named River are at #210 while girls come in at #285. That's pretty close. Rivers is another popular variation, by the way. Celebs with sons named River include football player/sports analyst Tony Romo, Jackie Jackson, and actress Keri Russell, as well as celeb chef Jamie Oliver. Some famous Rivers include the late actor, River Phoenix, River Cuomo of the band Weezer, and there's a character named River in Doctor Who. One tip would be to avoid anything too clever as a middle name, such as River Wide, River Bridge or River Blue.
Peyton has been seen more as a girl's name but the popularity of Super Bowl champ, Peyton Manning definitely pumps up the masculinity for anyone concerned about using a "girl's" name. So far in 2018, Peyton for girls is at #66, and for boys, it's at #232. It's concerned to be an English place name for an area in Devon, and it's supposed to mean "noble; patrician." Another source states the meaning as "the fighting man's estate." Peyton Place was a mildly racy (for the times) 1957 film, then a 1960s TV show. Celebs with daughters named Peyton include singer/music producer Babyface, NBA player JR Smith and Britney's ex, Kevin Federline. Peyton can also be spelled Payton, and that spelling is likely to bring to mind beloved football great Walter "Sweetness" Payton, who died too early from cancer in 1999.
Riley is derived from 2 Old English roots; ryge meaning "rye," and lēah meaning, "clearing; meadow; woods." So the meaning of Riley is "one who lives near a rye field." Riley for girls is skyrocketing in popularity, up to #18 this year in the US. Boys rank it at #137. One possible explanation for the dramatic rise is the viral explosion of Steph Curry's adorable young daughter's appearances around the time of his NBA championships. Little Riley made a big impression with her adorable self. Riley is a big hit with other celebs, such as NFL player Tiki Barber, baseball player Cory Sullivan, and newswoman Norah O'Donnell. Riley sounds similar but differs in meaning and roots from Reilly. Males with the name include blues great Riley "BB" King, Riley Cooper, NFL player and Riley Lynch, son of director David Lynch.
From the Old English roots hēg meaning "hay," dun meaning "hill," or hege meaning "hedge." Some state that its roots mean, "heathen," but that may be one you only believe on certain days in toddler or teenhood. Hayden as a girl's name ranks at #287, and for a boy's name at #141, so it is at this point, its slightly preferred for boys. Not enough to worry the parents of a girl, though. Hayden Panettiere is an actress, while Hayden Christensen is an actor. Actor Ed Begley, Jr. named his daughter Hayden, as did actor/politician Fred Thompson. You could opt for Hadyn, as in Austrian classical composer Joseph Haydn, who was known as the "Father of the Symphony." Hay, Hayd or Den, or even Dennie or Denny are possible nicknames for Hayden.
Skyler is a name that seems like you could guess the meaning of. Something to do with "sky," right? Well, not so fast. It all depends on whom you listen to and what origin you trace it to. Here are a few of the options. It could come from Dutch, meaning "scholar," or Danish for "fugitive; giving shelter." Some link it to the easy to assume sky, while others think it may be a place name linked to the Isle of Skye, off Scotland's coast. Skyler is ranked #349 for girls and #423 for boys. Skyler was one of the main characters in TV's Breaking Bad, and is the name of actress Skyler Samuels, from TV's The Gifted. Skyler could also be spelled as Skylar. This name could be shortened to Sky, Skye or possibly Lar or Lars.
Micah is from the Hebrew, mīkhāyah, meaning "who is like God?" It's related to the name Michael, which has the same meaning. While more than one Micah is included in the Old Testament, the most notable was the prophet from 800 BC whose prophecies are a book of the Bible. Micah is much more used as a boy's name, ranking #93, versus #709 for girls. It was popular in the 1600s among Puritans and has had a resurgence since the 2000s. Celebs with sons named Micah include Neil Diamond and actress Sarah Drew of Grey's Anatomy fame. Micah is one of those ancient names that now have a hip, new cool feel. Nicknames could include Mic, Mikey, or Mickey. Those who have daughters shouldn't worry about giving their daughter the name, as it is easier to change the masculine connotation to a feminine one for some reason.
Until very recently, Justice has been associated strongly with males. Lately, the switch up has put girl Justice babies ahead of boys with the same name. In 2018 so far, girls chart at #581 while boys are at #976. Justice has Latin origins, from the word ius, meaning "law." Justus was the original name from these roots. Some parents opt for the spelling Justiss to fem it up a little for their daughters. Justice is a virtue name, but unlike the Puritan virtue names, has no religious implications. Celebs with children named Justice include writer/actor/director Nate Parker, singer John (Cougar) Mellencamp and singer Ziggy Marley. Justice could be shortened to Jus, Just or Justi, as well as Justy. To be more different you could also opt for Tice or Stice.
Tate is strongly preferred at present for boys over girls. The difference is notable. The girl's version is at #4254 whereas the boy's is at #824. Tate is from Middle English and Norwegian origins and means, "cheerful," which is not a bad meaning to bestow upon a child. We can always hope, right? While Tate entered the name charts in the 1960s, it is currently at its high point in the 2010s. Tate Taylor was the director of the critically acclaimed hit film, The Help. Hilary Duff is filming a movie on the late actress Sharon Tate who was murdered by the Manson Family. Tate could be spelled creatively, such as Tayte, Tait or Tayt. Nicknames are highly unnecessary as it's a simple one-syllable, 4-letter name, but should you require one anyhow, you could go with Tatey or Tay.
Of course, you know the meaning of the name Ocean. But the etymology of the actual word is it is a Greek word, ōkeanos, meaning a body encompassing the single land mass of Earth, as the ancients were not aware yet of the various continents. Ocean is a pretty rare name still, and is pretty much equally distributed among boys and girls. Boys rate #2039 where girls come in at #1879, so far in 2018. Ocean was the name given to Forest Whitaker's son and child-star married pair (who combined their surnames) Carlos and Alexa PenaVega. Ocean is a hippy, nature-lover type of name. People with a strong affinity for the beach or sea may instantly be attracted to this unusual name, while others may find it too out of the box. Nicknames could be O, Cean or Ocie.
The name Alex comes from the Greek roots alexein which means "to help or defend," and andros meaning "man or mankind." So Alex means "defender of mankind." Of course, the name was borne by one of the greatest military leaders of all time, Alexander the Great. Alex ranks currently at #93 for boys, while the girl version rates #921. So there's a pretty big disparity, but it's hard to control for all the myriad variations on the name such as Alexia, Alexa or Alexis. There have been plenty of female characters named Alex on TV, such as Selena Gomez' character on Wizards of Waverly Place, the title character of The Secret World of Alex Mack, and Alex Dunphy on Modern Family. Nicknames are numerous but include Ali, Alexi, and Lex, as well as Lexi, Allie and Lexa.
Avery is an Old English name with a few slightly varied meanings, such as "wise; elf ruler or protector; counsel." Avery comes down to us from the Old English name Alfred, via French Normans. For girls it dominates at #13, while for boys it is much less common, coming in at #98. So it is more popular for girls, but placing in the top 100 makes it still a genuine unisex name choice for parents who want to be surprised and have one name chosen for either gender. Avery was the love interest for Alec Baldwin's character on 30 Rock, and Avery was Fern's brother in the much-beloved children's classic book, Charlotte's Web. Avery Bradley was an NBA player, Avery Brooks an actor, and Angie Harmon and Jason Sehorn have a daughter named Avery, and Dr. Phil has a granddaughter with the handle.
Wyatt is an Old English surname meaning, "war strength." Perhaps the most renowned Wyatt in American history would be Sheriff Wyatt Earp of the old Wild West days. It had a resurgence back in the 1960s and 1970s when Peter Fonda played the character Wyatt in the cult classic, Easy Rider. Then celebs Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell named their son Wyatt in 1989, and then Sheryl Crow did the same for her son. The most recent celebs to use Wyatt are the star couple Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis, who decided to name their daughter Wyatt Isabelle. It still ranks very high for baby boys, with it landing at #29 thus far this year, and for girls, it is still down lower at #2284. Wyatt seems likely to continue its rise in use.
Zen is still a pretty rare first name, but it ranks a bit higher for boys than girls at this point. Since they are both so uncommon, however, it shouldn't impact you either way. For boys, it ranks at #1581 and for girls at #3035. Zen is a Japanese form of Buddhism associated with meditation. It's become a buzz word for a relaxed, chilled out, state of mind and being. Some celebs have dubbed their children with the cool, modern-hippy vibe name. Actress Zoe Saldana and hubby Marco Perego named their son Zen, who arrived in late December 2016. Corey Feldman has a son named Zen as well. This feels like a name that will eventually take off in popularity, so if you want to be on the ground floor now may be the time.
Jalen is a distinctly modern, and mostly but not exclusively, male name. You could trace its roots to Galen, a Greek name meaning "healer; serene." It's about twice as popular for sons than daughters, with boy Jalen getting in at #585 whereas the girls rank at #11,524. Jalen Rose is a former NBA player, formerly one of the University of Michigan's "Fab Five," and currently a sportscaster. Jalen Mills plays for the Philadelphia Eagles and is a Superbowl winner. Parents could plan for the name Jalen, and switch up the spelling for a daughter to fem it up a bit. You could try Jalyn or Jailynn, for instance. Jay, Jai or Len are all possible nicknames. Jalen seems like a spin on the extremely popular and more common, Jaden. So for folks who like being a little more under the radar, Jalen might be the fit.
Carson tends to be much more popular for boys than girls, but that doesn't mean it will remain that way. Boys rank at #70, while the girl version comes in at #1014. The origins of the name are Old English and Scottish, while some insist that the roots are in Scandinavia. The meaning is "son of Carr," and Carr means, "marsh dweller." So it's a name associated with a place more than anything. Celebs include Carson Daly, but old-time ties would be Kit Carson, who has Carson City, Nevada named after him. A famed female Carson is Carson McCullers, a Southern novelist. Carson Ellis is a Caldecott winning artist and children's book illustrator. And also a female. Carson Pickett is a woman soccer player. Carson can be spelled many different ways including Karson, Karsen or Carsyn. Nicknames include Car, Cars or Cari.
Ever is a very rare (as in no chart numbers) name so no real association with either gender has been established. However, a few celebs have named offspring Ever, so it may well take off. Milla Jovovich named her daughter Ever, and so did actor Robert Carradine. Alanis Morisette and Souleye named their son Ever. Scandinavian roots put the name as meaning, "wild as a boar." Hebrew language meaning is "beyond." Ever has a hippy vibe, and that may be enticing to some and off-putting to others. Ever shouldn't be paired with any other words to avoid being cutesy or cheesy. For example, Ever After is a movie title, not a good moniker for a human being.
Sources: Babynamewizard.com, Babycenter.com, Nameberry.com, Thinkbabynames.com