Many of the given names we know and love started as surnames. For instance, Chandler began as an English occupational surname for candlemakers. These names are so appealing because they carry with them some time-tested clout while also being universal enough to work for both genders. However, the name can fluctuate and trend for one gender at one point and then another later in time.
Take Blake, for example, as it’s the most popular surname name for both boys and girls. It used to primarily be given to boys, but it’s now being seen as a wonderful possibility for girls thanks to celebrities like Blake Lively. In fact, Blake is falling for boys and rising for girls. We love when the naming tides shift in this way and open the door for new possibilities to expecting parents. What other surnames are excellent unisex choices? We’ve got 25 fabulous surname names that are universally loved and will be the perfect given name for your baby.
Channing is a sophisticated surname name whose use is probably linked to actor Channing Tatum and Channing Crowder, former linebacker for the Miami Dolphins. It’s true that more boys receive this name than girls, but we think it works well for both. This name has English or Irish origins and means “people of Cana” or “wolf cub.”
The gender split over the Kahlo as a given name is pretty even. Little girls are slightly more likely to receive this amazing name. The name of course belonged to the renowned artist Frida Kahlo. Kahlo like Frida is a name with origins in German and means “bald.”
Bowie is another wonderful option and a nod to a famous person with the surname. David Bowie chose this Scottish name that means “blonde.” Bowie is more like to go to a baby boy than a girl, but we love it for daughters as well.
You’ll find this name more commonly spelled Austin, but to honor Jane Austen, parents are choosing this spelling. Even though it’s slightly different this name is still given to more boys than girls. Austen has English origins and is a form of the Latin name Augustus and means “great.”
Seth Meyers‘ son Ashe was given his wife’s maiden name. Ashe is an English surname that is a form of Ashley or Ashton. Thanks to the popularity of those names and especially Ashley, we see this as an opportunity for new parents to give this cool name to their little girl. This name means “from the ash tree meadow.”
North’s image and gender status was irrevocably changed when Kim Kardashian and Kanye West announced it as the name of their newborn daughter. New parents are following their lead and giving the name to their daughters. Like Easton and Weston, North is an English habitational surname.
Power is a name that goes to boys more often than girls but we like it the other way around. We think Power would be a brilliant name for a girl. Samantha Power is a diplomat who served as the United States Ambassador to the United Nations. She is Irish-American and Power is found in Ireland and across the UK as a habitational name for “someone from Pois.”
Copper comes from the Middle English word couper or cowper. It’s an occupational for a person who made and repaired barrels. Copper is given more to boys than girls and we think that’s about how it should be. Feel free to name your daughter Copper! Live your life!
Hollis is a surname-name used quietly for both genders. In 2015, it was given to 176 boys and 106 girls in the US. The English name means “dweller at the holly trees.” This name is perfect for both genders and if you’re looking for an alternative to Holly for a girl, this would foot the bill. Also, it’s a wonderfully subtle econame.
Lake is a handsome name that’s been trending for girls in recent years thanks to actor Lake Bell. We love the name for both and it’s a nature-name that’s the perfect alternative to Blake. Lake is an English topographic surname that would have been spelled Lacu in Old English. It means exactly what you think it does.
Reiss is an Old German origin, and was most commonly used by Ashkenazic Jewish people as a metonymic occupational name for “a dealer in rice.” This name has a 50/50 split for boys and girls and we think it works nicely for both. If you’re looking for something a little different than Rhys, this could be a wonderful alternative.
You can spell this name however you want! Merit, Merrit, or Merritt all work perfectly well no matter if you’re giving the name to a boy or girl. However, actor Merritt Weaver has made this name more popular for girls at the moment. The surname from which this name is derived comes from Old English and refers to the gate around a parish. So, it was used by those who lived near a parish.
Dutch settlers arriving in New York came baring the name Schuyler. After hundreds of years, the name evolved into Skyler for ease. The surname means “student” or “scholar.” Skyler is being given to more girls than boys these days, but it totally works for both.
Emerson is going to girls over boys at a 2:1 rate. However, we think this name has potential for baby boys as it’s associated with Ralph Waldo Emerson. For girls, this name makes for a welcome alternative to Amber, Emery, Emma, and the like. Emerson is a German name that means “son of my enemy.”
Unbelievably, some surnames were given names before they were adopted. Adair has completed some sort of linguistic life cycle as it started as the given name Edgar, evolved to the surname Adair and now is being used as a given name. Wild! Adair has both Scottish and Irish origins and means “oak tree ford.” This is currently a name that’s slightly trending for boys.
Casey is an Irish surname that means “brave in battle.” It’s been used as a first name for boys and girls so long that it’s hard to believe it actually has those roots. Casey is being bestowed upon boys more than girls at the moment, but we think parents should change that. It really works well as a name for girls.
A classic Irish surname, Kennedy should be familiar to you. It’s such a beloved one. Today, the name is associated with little girls, but Kennedy could easily be borne by a boy. This strong-sounding name actually means “misshapen head.”
Here’s an example of a name that’s got a perfectly even 50/50 split among boys and girls. Kiernan This Irish name means “little dark one.” It’s completely wonderful and universal. One famous example with this name is Kiernan Shipka who you’ll know as Sally Draper in Mad Men.
Conley is yet another Irish surname. It comes from another established name, Conlan and both mean “hero.” Parents are favoring this name for boys, but we think it’s perfect for girls too. Thanks to name like Connie and Constance, Conley is a great fit for a girl.
Mason is an occupational name that’s overwhelming going to boys these days. It’s a top ten name for them. This English occupational name means “worker in stone.” Kelsey Grammer bucked the trend and used it for his daughter. We think it goes either way!
As with Mason, Easton is also being given to boys more often and it’s top 100 name for them. Don’t let the boys have all the fun with this unisex name! Easton is a habitational surname that means “from the east-facing place.” This name sounds very posh and we’re very fond of it.
Parents aren’t tripping over themselves to use this name, but we think it’s a fine one. Ridley is an English name that means “cleared wood.” We see Ridley more often for girls in fiction as characters like Ridley Duchannes a character from Beautiful Creatures.
Sidney is a name that’s an even split for babies. Sidney is an aristocratic British surname as in the Elizabethan poet George Sidney. However, the name was not invented by the English. It comes from French and is related to “Saint-Denis.” This name had a moment in the 1990s but fell off the popularity charts in 2016. Don’t let this good name go out of style!
Harlem, New York gets its name from the Dutch settlers and refers to a city in the Netherlands named Haarlem. The surname Harlem was borne from pre-literate people in the Middle Ages using sound to dictate the spelling of a name. It was not uncommon for the same person to spell their name differently over the course of their lifetime. Harlem comes from Harland or Horland two different topographic areas of England means “hares land.”
Now, that’s a lot of explaining to do if it were to come up in casual conversation, so why not just name your child Harlem and tell friends it’s to celebrate one of the greatest neighborhoods in New York City? It’s up to you!
Baby girls are lucky to be receiving the name Sutton at the moment. It’s great for boys too! It’s a top 500 name and for good reason! Sutton is an English habitational name that means “from the southern homestead.” This name sounds both buttoned up and also casual at the same time. It’s a marvel.
There you go! 25 unisex baby names that come from surnames. These universal names have endless appeal and will make for excellent monikers, no matter the child. Further, if these names sound too stiff, consider an alternative spelling of your making. These names also work especially well as middle names!
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.
- 1 25. Channing
- 2 24. Kahlo
- 3 23. Bowie
- 4 22. Austen
- 5 21. Ashe
- 6 20. North
- 7 19. Power
- 8 18. Copper
- 9 17. Hollis
- 10 16. Lake
- 11 15. Reiss
- 12 14. Merit
- 13 13. Skyler
- 14 12. Emerson
- 15 11. Adair
- 16 10. Casey
- 17 9. Kennedy
- 18 8. Kiernan
- 19 7. Conley
- 20 6. Mason
- 21 5. Easton
- 22 4. Ridley
- 23 3. Sidney
- 24 2. Harlem
- 25 1. Sutton
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