13 Baby Names That Are *Actually* Unisex
Your belief in gender equality might inspire you to search for a unisex name for your baby, but what names are actually used equally for girls and boys? Only a few dozen, if you limit the results to creative names given to at least 50 babies of each gender in 2015. Scroll on for the best truly unisex baby names for modern babies.
1. Azariah: This biblical name, which means “God’s help” in Hebrew, has risen into the top 1000 for both girls and boys over the past few years. There are 25 Azariahs in the Bible, all male, including a prophet and two high priests. Azariah was given as a name to 326 baby girls and 358 boys in 2015 and is traditionally pronounced a-za-RYE-ah, but may also be pronounced a-ZAHR-ee-ah, particularly for girls.
2. Charlie: Though Charlie is traditionally short for Charles or Charlotte, the name has seen a rise in popularity on its own in recent years, especially for girls. Male celebrities from Charlie Chaplin to Charlie Sheen have been in the public eye longer, but one of the newest star Charlies is Instagram model Charlie Barker. With over 1600 boys and 1500 girls named Charlie, this is the most popular of the well-balanced unisex names, standing at Number 207 for girls and 229 for boys. Add to that all the top 10 Charlottes and top 50 Charleses called Charlie and you have a mega-popular name for both genders.
3. Denver: This place name, whose heyday was the 1920s, when it reached as high as 422 for boys, reemerged on the top 1000 boys’ list again last year. Although as a girls’ name it’s never cracked the top 1000, Denver was used for nearly 200 girls and 240 boys last year. Another even more evenly-distributed place name is Indiana, given to 73 babies of each sex in May 2004.
4. Jael: Jael was a Biblical heroine, the slayer of Sisera in the Book of Judges who helped take back Israel. It means mountain goat and is traditionally given to children born under the sign of Capricorn. While Jael has appeared for only a single year on the top 1000 for either sex — in 2012 for boys — it was used for 150 girls and 128 boys in 2015. One disadvantage: While the proper pronunciation is yah-el, some people will default to “jail.”
5. Landry: This English surname meaning “ruler” is most closely associated with the longtime Dallas Cowboys head coach Tom Landry. In 2015 it appeared on both the boys’ and girls’ top 1000, given to 297 girls and 260 boys. Another surname-name used evenly for both genders is Gentry, given in 2015 to 112 girls and 97 boys.
6. Linden: Part Linda, part Lyndon and part tree name, Linden appeared briefly on the boys’ top 1000 in the early 1940s but today is used equally for both sexes. In 2015, 78 girls and 86 boys were named Linden.
7. Merritt: This name, most commonly used as a surname, means “boundary gate” in Old English. While the name was well-used for boys a century and more ago, peaking at Number 400 for boys in 1899, the name is now evenly balanced. Emmy award winning actress Merritt Wever of Nurse Jackie and The Walking Dead has helped popularize the name for girls, with 80 girls and 71 boys named Merritt in 2015.
8. Nikita: A Russian short form of Nicholas, Nikita was given to 93 girls and 92 boys in 2015. Its popularity peaked in 1986, at number 250 on the girls’ list. 1950s and 1960s Russian politician Nikita Kruschev was once the most famous example of the name until recently. Then in 1990, Nikita’s image got a reboot via the sexy Russian spy title character in the film Nikita, its adaptation as a popular Canadian TV series called La Femme Nikita and its readaptation by the CW as Nikita. In fact, Nikita has historically been more popular for girls, peaking in 1986 at Number 250.
9. Oakley: The nature-ish Oakley had a brief historic period in the top 1000 for boys before falling off in 1920. In the past three years, though, Oakley has been shooting up the charts for both boys and girls, now at number 611 for girls and number 567 for boys and used for nearly 500 babies of each sex. The most popular example of Oakley in popular culture is Oakley sunglasses, but NBA star Charles Oakley and female wild west sharpshooter Annie Oakley also popularized the name.
10. Ridley: Ridley means cleared wood, and until recently (male) director Ridley Scott practically owned the name. Now though, Emmy Rossum plays Ridley Duchannes from the Beautiful Creatures series and Daisy Ridley has become a household name for her role in Star Wars. In 2015, 71 girls and 62 boys were named Ridley.
11. Salem: Salem may initially call to mind the famous witch trials and menthol cigarettes, but as a first name, it’s traditionally Arabic. It means peaceful or complete, and is both a surname and a first name pronounced sah-leem. It’s also a Biblical place name in Canaan and the name of a city in Oregon. In 2015, 162 girls and 139 boys were named Salem.
12. Storm: Storm is a word name that had a brief stint on the bottom of the boys’ chart from 1991 to 1997. It’s the superhero name of one of the more popular X Men. There were 76 girls and 63 boys named Storm in 2015.
13. Tracy: Tracy was once a popular name for both genders, reaching as high as number 10 for girls in 1970 and number 111 for boys in 1972. Now it’s a quietly-used unisex choice: only 83 girls and 72 boys were named Tracy in 2015. Several celebrities of both genders are named Tracy, including singer-songwriter Tracy Chapman, NBA all-star Tracy McGrady and comedian Tracy Morgan. Another once-popular name whose star has now dimmed but which is used equally for girls and boys is Jackie.
Did your favorite baby name make the list? Tweet us @BritandCo and let us know!
This post was previously published on Nameberry by Pamela Redmond Satran
(Photo via Getty)