New parents more readily give baby girls unisex or masculine baby names rather than giving baby boys names they feel are “feminine.” We think this helps feed into the notion that our male children should always be masculine and tough. In an effort to avoid stoking the flames of toxic masculinity, we urge you to consider baby names for your little one that work excellently for boys. In fact, many of the names that we consider “girl names” were indeed originated by men.
For instance, one of the most popular baby names for girls in the US in the 1980s and 1990s was Ashley. However, the gender-neutral name started as an English name for boys. Due to its natural meaning “meadow of the ash trees,” we feel it was able to make the switch from going primarily to boys to being used for girls. We wanted to discover more names like Ashley that once were given freely to little boys and now seem like they are reserved for girls. Check out these gender bender baby names for boys!
Despite its origin as a patronymic moniker meaning “son of Adam,” Addison truly caught on for baby girls in the US around the turn of the millennium, following in Madison’s footsteps to peak at number 11 in 2007 and again in 2010. The name has not been popular for baby boys for over a decade.
It may have peaked at number 1 for girls in 1991 and 1992 in the US, but Ashley actually has a long history as a male given name, as evidenced by the passionate character Ashley Wilkes in Gone With the Wind. It’s always been more popular for boys in England and Wales, where it currently ranks at number 414. It has not been popular for baby boys in over 30 years. Let’s reclaim Ashley!
Lindsay is one of the few thoroughly unisex names (as opposed to being a name that has changed genders). Over time the –ey ending was usually reserved for women and the –ay ending reserved for men, however, both spellings are overwhelmingly female these days. The Lindsay spelling was last popular for baby boys in the 1980s. The name means “island of linden trees.”
An example of a baby name that might make the switch from majority boy to girl, Avery, is still popular for boys, but it’s started to move in the other direction. Thankfully, this beautiful appellation is one of the most popular gender-neutral baby names today. Avery has origins as an English surname that means “ruler of the elves.”
The last time Kelsey was truly popular for baby boys in the US was the 1980s, and we probably have actor Kelsey Grammar to thank for that. Today, you will be hard-pressed to find a male Kelsey under the age of 30. Kelsey likely comes from a variety of English places, making its meaning unclear. Baby naming database, Nameberry suggests the name likely means “Cenel’s island.”
Rapper, Drake, was born Aubrey Drake Graham. Perhaps it’s him who is behind the very recent uptick in interest for the name Aubrey for their baby boys. For the first time in decades, after falling from its heights in the 1910s and 1920s, Aubrey is starting to trend up once more. Aubrey is an English name with French origins that mean “elf ruler.” The elf content you did not expect, right?
Bailey is an English occupational surname that comes from “bailiff” or “law enforcer.” Bailey once was primarily used for baby boys, but today that’s changed. The last time Bailey saw popularity was over a decade ago when it fell from US top 1000 list of most popular baby names.
Juniper is a pleasant botanical baby name. More than 400 baby girls were named Juniper in 2013 versus fewer than ten boys. However, Juniper is now a top 200 pick for baby girls. The trend has not yet changed. The most remarkable Juniper in history was the saint, Brother Juniper, a follower of Saint Francis. Juniper is an English name with Latin origins that means “young.”
Wren is a gender-neutral name that will likely crack the top 1000 most popular baby names list this year. It will only be for baby girls, however, parents of baby boys are not flocking to the name like those of baby girls. Wren is a lively nature name that refers to the short, little songbird.
Merritt is a surname-name that was once fashionable for baby boys born in the late 19th and early 20th century. The name is on the verge of returning to the top 1000 list after years of disuse. Thankfully, the return of this name will be split evenly between both boys and girls. Of all the baby names on this list, Merritt is one of the best! Merritt has English origins and means “boundary gate.”
Hartley was once a hot name for baby boys back in 1895! It’s been a long time since the name has been used and lately it has been going to baby girls. We believe this charmer deserves a place on many little boys’ birth certificates. Harley has English origins and means “stag meadow.”
Amari is one of the baby names on this list that was originally intended for men only. Amari can be found in a variety of traditions including Yoruba, Thai, and Hebrew. We are particularly fond of the Thai meaning, “eternal.” Amari has emerged as an equally popular name for boys and girls today. We love this soft and loving-sounding appellation.
Rowan comes from Irish and Scottish origins and it has always been used for both boys and girls. The name refers to a tree with red berries but it was historically used as a nickname for little redheads. According to Celtic superstition, the tree wards off witches. It’s a top 500 baby name for both sexes and is currently more popular for boys.
Another form of the Arabic name Imani, Amani is a stone’s throw away form Amari. Amani means “faith.” Amani is rising for baby boys but it is currently much more popular for girls.
Although Jules hasn’t made the US popularity list in fifty years, it is a current hit in its native France. There, it’s currently number 10! We would love for this treasure of a name to return to popularity in the US. Sadly, to many parents have associated with a nickname for Julie, Julia, Juliette, etc. Jules is the French form of Julius and means “youthful.”
Indigo is one of the very best color baby names that parents are not using in the US. It’s making waves in the UK and Europe and is currently trending there for baby girls. We love this gender-neutral name that refers to color but also the treasured dye imported from India by the ancient Greeks. The name has Greek origins and means “Indian dye.”
Artemis is a Greek goddess of the moon. Yes, Artemis is technically a name for girls and Artemas is supposed to be the counterpart for boys. But, who really cares? We have thought Artemis sounded like a great name for boys since reading it used for a character in the Artemis Fowl books from childhood. The name has never been popular in the US. Who knows that the future holds for this attractive name?
People often feel that Reese and Rhys, which are essentially the same name, denote a certain gender. Common wisdom holds that Reese is the spelling for girls and Rhys is the one for boys. We prefer the Rhys spelling, but if you like the other, go for it! Rhys is a top 500 name for boys in the US. Reese is a top 500 for girls and a top 1000 pick for boys today. Rhys is a baby name with Welsh origins meaning “ardor.”
Presley has not been a popular name for baby boys since 1903! However, for baby girls today, it was the 204th most chosen name. What happened? Tanya Tucker gave the name to her baby girl in 1989. Others clearly took a cue from Tucker. Presley is an English surname-name that means “Priest’s meadow.”
Marlow has never been on the US top 1000 list of popular baby names. However, it’s a red hot name that is being altered to Marlo and Marlowe and slapped on many a baby girl’s birth certificate. Marlow began use as a given name for baby boys but it likely will not return for them. Marlow has English origins and means “driftwood.” Former Celine designer Phoebe Philo for her older son, so perhaps it will begin to happen for little dudes once more.
Harper is a burning hot name for girls, plucked from obscurity to now near the top of the popularity list. In less than a decade, it entered the top 10 in 2015. Harper is a prime example of the trend of surnames that turn into boys’ names and then become girls’ names. Due to the popularity among little girls, Harper’s popularity for baby boys took a nosedive. We think it’s a winner for both! Harper means “harp player.”
Gale has resurfaced as the name of Liam Hemsworth’s daring character in The Hunger Games. For decades, good old Gale has gone to girls, thought as a sort of nickname or shortened form of Abigail. Gale has not been popular among baby girls (and boys) since the 1970s, so it might be time to bring Gale back for our little boys. Gale is considered a shortened form of Galen, meaning “tranquil.” However, the Middle English origins of this name can also mean “jovial.”
Girl Danas outnumber baby boy Danas nearly ten to one. But Dana is an appealing, sharp name that can certainly work for babies of either gender. Dana is a name found in English, Slavic, Persian, and Arabic traditions. Thus, the name has multiple meanings ranging from “gift” to “from Denmark” to “wise.”
Irish baby name, Cassidy, sounds like a cowboy choice. The name means “curly-haired.” Cassidy was last popular for boys in 1992. Things changed after Kathie Lee Gifford chose the name for her daughter and started a trend for the name to go to girls. The trend persists, though to a lesser degree, today and Cassidy is still at top 500 choice for little girls. Give this handsome winner to little boys too, parents!
Historically, Blair was a Scottish surname-name given primarily to boys. The name means “dweller on the plain.” The last time it ranked in the top 1000 baby names for boys was 1995. Blair is on the rise for baby girls and it enjoyed its most popular year ever last year ranking at 401. In the UK, it is frowned upon to use this one for girls and it could turn some heads there. However, live your life, folks!
There you go! What did you think of these gender-bender baby names? We hope it opened up some possibilities for you as many, many names are traditionally gender-neutral or even intended for the opposite gender that they are currently popular with. Experiment, be bold and choose wisely. Happy baby name hunting!
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Andrew is a Chicago-based writer who enjoys finding the best of the internet, obsessively making lists, and cooking for friends. After studying Film and Art History, he developed a deep love for both topics. Celebrity news, pop culture, and stories that bring people together are his passions.
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Baby Name Generator
No baby name sounding good? Want a quick way to generate unique baby name ideas? Try our baby name generator below!
Set your terms (sex of the baby, number of letters, popularity, etc.) and then get a list of names that meet your criteria. Maybe the perfect name is just waiting to be generated for you.