Gender-neutral names are now extremely common and they look like they are here to stay. However, although gender-neutral names might seem like a modern conception, they have actually been around for a while.
That's right, gender-neutral names have existed since, well, names existed, and have gone in and out of favor just like masculine and feminine names. Interestingly, most gender-neutral names began as traditional "male" or "female" names or were originally surnames. These names have then evolved over time into what they are today. Let's take a look at how it all began, here are 10 gender-neutral names of the past.
Ellis was first recorded as a surname all the way back in 1202 and has been pretty consistent since. It took a couple more decades before it started being used as a first name and hit its peak between 1900 and 1950. Throughout history, the name has been most popular with boys.
However, in 2015, the female Ellis debuted into the top US baby names for the first time ever and has continued to rise in popularity. Overall, the best thing about the ambiguous Ellis is that it was chosen by legendary author, Emily Bronte as her male pseudonym. Now that's gender-neutral.
In the past, Quin had one N for men and two N's for women, and was reasonably popular for both genders. However, these days, the name is usually spelled with double N for both genders. The name, which is from Irish descent, is considered to be one of the first Irish unisex surnames of all time, before evolving into a successful first name. Although male Quinns were much more popular in the past, there are now more female Quinns in the world. As a result, the name is on the rise and reached number 84 in the most popular gender-neutral name of 2018.
The name Morgan has been around forever, both in Europe and the United States. The name is thought to have originated in Wales, UK, before moving around the country, into Europe, and across the pond. Back in the day, the name was mostly used as a surname, before evolving into a predominantly male first name.
After a while, the name switched and became frequented with females instead. However, both sexes still use the name as the first name to this day. For instance, in the USA, the name was the 152nd most popular girl's name in 2017, while the male version clocked in at 685.
Hilary comes from the Latin word, hilarius, meaning cheerful or merry, and has been used as both a male and female name since its conception. Over the years, the spelling has been altered to differentiate between male or female. For instance, Hilary with one L was mostly used for men, while double L was used for a female name. In the past, the name was extremely common for men, especially in the upper classes. These days, Hilary is rarely used as the first name for a man and instead attributed to more women, the most famous being, Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The name Leslie originally came from Scotland and was thought to have been taken from Lessly, a place in Aberdeenshire. Some scholars have suggested that the name could also have derived from the Gaelic word, lios, meaning, enclosure, garden, or fort. Over the years, the name has undergone a number of spelling changes, from dropping the ie to y and changing the s to z. Furthermore, the name has been used for both men and women, with the name exceptionally popular for men during the 1930s to the 1940s. In fact, a number of high profile actors were named, Leslie, from Leslie Howard to Bob Hope. Nowadays, the name is more common among women.
Dana has been a popular gender-neutral name for some time and was among the top 100 most popular names for boys and girls in the United States between 1960 and 1990. The name is said to be an abbreviation of Denmark, or Dane, once a common Danish surname.
Furthermore, it has been suggested that Dana is also a shorter version of the also common name, Daniel, or Danielle. Over the years, Dana has undergone a number of spelling variations, from, Dayna, Daena, and Danah. The name is also exceptionally common among Arabs along the Persian Gulf, with the name meaning "the most perfectly sized, valuable and beautiful pearl" in Arabic.
Addison originally came from the masculine version, Adam, which is often believed to be one of the first-ever names, depending on your faith, of course. The name can be spelled a number of ways such as Addison and Addyson, plus it is also popular as the shortened version, Addy. The name has undergone a recent surge and clocked in at number 49 in the most popular baby names of 2019. However, although it might be associated with girls, the name has recently become gender-neutral with a lot of boys being given the moniker. Furthermore, Addison is now considered a trendy fashionable name having been out of the spotlight for a few decades.
The name Parker originated from the job title, Park Keeper, otherwise known as Parker. In the past, those with money often employed people to maintain their parks and gardens. These people were then referred to as Parkers, a name that stuck and became their surname. Parker soon became a common surname and passed down through generation upon generation. In fact, the name continued to be common throughout Europe and the USA, even without the Park Keeper connotations. However, more recently, the name has become exceptionally popular as a first name and currently stands as one of the most popular gender-neutral names in the Western world.
The name Riley first appeared as Raghallach, supposedly the Gaelic word for Valiant. The name was extremely popular in the past and was mostly used as a surname. However, in the late '90s, the name suddenly became fashionable again and clocked in at number 25 in the most popular girl's name of 2000.
Since then, the name has dipped in and out of fashion as well as undergoing a number of different spellings. For instance, the name can be spelled, Riley, Rhiley and even Raleigh. These days, the name is much more gender-neutral and is now more common boys.
Robin first started out as a nickname for the much more conventional name, Robert. Over the years, the name formed into an independent masculine name and became reasonably popular in the United Kingdom as well as France and eventually the United States. The name has undergone a number of spelling changes over the years, from Robin and Robyn to Robbin, and can also be used as a surname. Throughout most of its life, the name has usually been given to boys and is still rather popular to this day. However, more recently the name has seen a surge in feminine associations and looks likely to increase as time goes on.