**Tags**

name data, name popularity, name popularity - Victoria, name trends, popular names, unisex names

*I intimated that we’d probably do a couple of things with the complete 2012 name data from Victoria, now that it’s been released, and something I thought might be interesting would be to look at the unisex names in the data, and see whether they were used more often for girls or boys, or evenly for both.*

**Unisex Names More Popular for Girls**

- Addison – 76 girls, 7 boys
- Ashley – 31 girls, 13 boys
- Eden – 65 girls, 7 boys
- Harper – 144 girls, 25 boys
- Sasha – 30 girls, 6 boys

- There are only five names used by both sexes that are significantly more popular for girls.
- Some parents chose names for their sons which had a reasonable history of being established as feminine by usage, and which are gaining rapidly in popularity for girls, such as
**Addison**and**Eden**. **Ashley**is the only one of these names which has a reasonable history of usage by both sexes.- The most feminine unisex name is
**Harper**, which has the biggest gap between the sexes.

**Unisex Names More Popular for Boys**

- Alex – 89 boys, 9 girls
- Bailey – 93 boys, 15 girls
- Casey – 16 boys, 7 girls
- Charlie – 264 boys, 63 girls
- Darcy – 78 boys, 10 girls
- Hunter – 156 boys, 8 girls
- Jamie – 31 boys, 6 girls
- Jordan – 120 boys, 13 girls
- Phoenix – 48 boys, 14 girls
- Riley – 217 boys, 9 girls
- River – 21 boys, 9 girls

- There are more than twice as many names used by both sexes that are significantly more popular for boys.
**Casey**,**Charlie**,**Darcy**,**Jamie**and**Jordan**have a reasonable history of usage as unisex names.- Most of these “more boyish” names, even if still popular, are falling in popularity for boys;
**Charlie**and**Hunter**are the ones who buck this trend, and are still increasing in male popularity. - The most masculine unisex name is
**Riley**, which has the biggest gap between the sexes – a much bigger gap than between the boys and girls called**Harper**. - Some parents will choose a name for their child which is Top 100 for the opposite sex (such as
**Harper**or**Bailey**), so name popularity isn’t always a factor in whether a name is considered a “boy” name, or a “girl” name.

**Unisex Names Given Fairly Evenly to Girls and Boys**

- Ariel – 12 boys, 11 girls
- Asher – 35 boys, 26 girls
- Blair – 15 boys, 12 girls
- Brooklyn – 17 girls, 15 boys
- Emerson – 14 girls, 8 boys
- Frankie – 12 boys, 9 girls,
- Morgan – 13 boys, 11 girls
- Quinn – 30 boys, 24 girls
- Remi – 11 boys, 7 girls
- Remy – 19 girls, 14 boys
- Taylor – 31 girls, 20 boys
- Tully – 10 girls, 8 boys
- Yi – 10 boys, 8 girls
- Zi – 7 girls, 7 boys

- These 14 names could be considered “truly unisex”, in that they are used by both sexes in roughly equal numbers.
- None of the names are popular, which makes me wonder if once a name gains a high level of use, it will tend to skew towards one sex rather than another.
- The most unisex name is the Chinese name
**Zi**, with the same number of boys and girls possessing it.

**Theoretically Unisex Names Overwhelmingly Used by Girls**

- Alexis – 112 girls, 5 or less boys
- Allie – 12 girls, 5 or less boys
- Allison – 12 girls, 5 or less boys
- Ally – 11 girls, 5 or less boys
- Angel – 21 girls, 5 or less boys
- Arya – 19 girls, 5 or less boys
- Aubrey – 7 girls, 5 or less boys
- Avery – 11 girls, 5 or less boys
- Bonnie – 52 girls, 5 or less boys
- Brooke – 24 girls, 5 or less boys
- Cassidy – 8 girls, 5 or less boys
- Chelsea – 104 girls, 5 or less boys
- Chelsey – 12 girls, 5 or less boys
- Clare – 18 girls, 5 or less boys
- Cleo – 34 girls, 5 or less boys
- Clover – 12 girls, 5 or less boys
- Coco – 23 girls, 5 or less boys
- Courtney – 12 girls, 5 or less boys
- Crystal – 15 girls, 5 or less boys
- Dakota – 25 girls, 5 or less boys
- Dana – 12 girls, 5 or less boys
- Ebony – 66 girls, 5 or less boys
- Elisha – 9 girls, 5 or less boys
- Erin – 31 girls, 5 or less boys
- Esme – 7 girls, 5 or less boys
- Evelyn – 68 girls, 5 or less boys
- Florence – 26 girls, 5 or less boys
- Gigi – 12 girls, 5 or less boys
- Ginger – 8 girls, 5 or less boys
- Harlow – 18 girls, 5 or less boys
- Indiana – 68 girls, 5 or less boys
- Indie – 29 girls, 5 or less boys
- Indigo – 36 girls, 5 or less boys
- Indy – 21 girls, 5 or less boys
- Iris – 20 girls, 5 or less boys
- Jade – 53 girls, 5 or less boys
- Jessie – 14 girls, 5 or less boys
- Joyce – 7 girls, 5 or less boys
- Kalani – 8 girls, 5 or less boys
- Kelly – 14 girls, 5 or less boys
- Kelsey – 8 girls, 5 or less boys
- Koa – 11 girls, 5 or less boys
- London – 11 girls, 5 or less boys
- Madison – 134 girls, 5 or less boys
- Maria – 26 girls, 5 or less boys
- Marley – 40 girls, 5 or less boys
- Mary – 42 girls, 5 or less boys
- Mika – 11 girls, 5 or less boys
- Miley – 22 girls, 5 or less boys
- Mischa – 11 girls, 5 or less boys
- Nicola – 13 girls, 5 or less boys
- Nikita – 27 girls, 5 or less boys
- Nikki – 6 girls, 5 or less boys
- Noor – 7 girls, 5 or less boys
- Olive – 53 girls, 5 or less boys
- Paige – 85 girls, 5 or less boys
- Paris – 8 girls, 5 or less boys
- Payton – 7 girls, 5 or less boys
- Pearl – 21 girls, 5 or less boys
- Peyton – 24 girls, 5 or less boys
- Piper – 68 girls, 5 or less boys
- Reese – 7 girls, 5 or less boys
- Ruby – 419 girls, 5 or less boys
- Sage – 13 girls, 5 or less boys
- Scarlet – 6 girls, 5 or less boys
- Scarlett – 256 girls, 5 or less boys
- Shelby – 19 girls, 5 or less boys
- Shiloh – 8 girls, 5 or less boys
- Skye – 43 girls, 5 or less boys
- Stacey – 6 girls, 5 or less boys
- Stevie – 16 girls, 5 or less boys
- Sydney – 8 girls, 5 or less boys
- Teagan – 13 girls, 5 or less boys
- Tegan – 9 girls, 5 or less boys
- Tia – 23 girls, 5 or less boys
- Vivian – 19 girls, 5 or less boys
- Wendy – 8 girls, 5 or less boys
- Willow – 129 girls, 5 or less boys
- Winter – 22 girls, 5 or less boys

The most feminine unisex name is **Ruby**, which is #3 for girls and in very rare use for boys (quite possibly, no boys at all). Ruby does have some usage as an Australian male name in the 19^{th} century.

**Theoretically Unisex Names Only Used by Boys**

- Adrian – 37 boys, 5 or less girls
- Aiden – 144 boys, 5 or less girls
- Ali – 65 or less boys, 5 or less girls
- Arlo – 28 boys, 5 or less girls
- Ash – 8 boys, 5 or less girls
- Beau – 75 boys, 5 or less girls
- Blake – 163 boys, 5 or less girls
- Bodhi – 19 boys, 5 or less girls
- Brodie – 55 or less boys, 5 or less girls
- Brody – 35 boys, 5 or less girls
- Cameron – 53 boys, 5 or less girls
- Campbell – 35 boys, 5 or less girls
- Chance – 8 boys, 5 or less girls
- Chase – 94 boys, 5 or less girls
- Chris – 18 boys, 5 or less girls
- Clancy – 13 boys, 5 or less girls
- Coby – 17 boys, 5 or less girls
- Cody – 48 boys, 5 or less girls
- Colby – 8 boys, 5 or less girls
- Cooper – 248 boys, 5 or less girls
- Dallas – 13 boys, 5 or less girls
- Dion – 12 boys, 5 or less girls
- Dusty – 8 boys, 5 or less girls
- Dylan – 146 boys, 5 or less girls
- Elliot – 41 boys, 5 or less girls
- Elliott – 24 boys, 5 or less girls
- Evan – 50 boys, 5 or less girls
- Ezra – 13 boys, 5 or less girls
- Finlay – 18 boys, 5 or less girls
- Finley – 23 boys, 5 or less girls
- Francis – 8 boys, 5 or less girls
- Harley – 53 boys, 5 or less girls
- Hayden – 119 boys, 5 or less girls
- James – 381 boys, 5 or less girls
- Jay – 18 boys, 5 or less girls
- Jesse – 65 boys, 5 or less girls
- Joey – 10 boys, 5 or less girls
- Jonty – 15 boys, 5 or less girls
- Jude – 60 boys, 5 or less girls
- Julian – 70 boys, 5 or less girls
- Kai – 89 boys, 5 or less girls
- Koby – 51 boys, 5 or less girls
- Kody – 10 boys, 5 or less girls
- Logan – 178 boys, 5 or less girls
- Luca – 113 boys, 5 or less girls
- Luka – 53 boys, 5 or less girls
- Mason – 266 boys, 5 or less girls
- Max – 283 boys, 5 or less girls
- Maxwell – 49 boys, 5 or less girls
- Memphis – 6 boys, 5 or less girls
- Micah – 32 boys, 5 or less girls
- Milan – 6 boys, 5 or less girls
- Miller – 21 boys, 5 or less girls
- Musa – 6 boys, 5 or less girls
- Myles – 16 boys, 5 or less girls
- Noah – 409 boys, 5 or less girls
- Oakley – 8 boys, 5 or less girls
- Parker – 31 boys, 5 or less girls
- Rafferty – 17 boys, 5 or less girls
- Reece – 17 boys, 5 or less girls
- Reed – 7 boys, 5 or less girls
- Reid – 9 boys, 5 or less girls
- Reilly – 6 boys, 5 or less girls
- Rory – 36 boys, 5 or less girls
- Rowan – 12 boys, 5 or less girls
- Ryan – 228 boys, 5 or less girls
- Sam – 66 boys, 5 or less girls
- Saxon – 26 boys, 5 or less girls
- Shane – 8 boys, 5 or less girls
- Sean – 32 boys, 5 or less girls
- Sidney – 7 boys, 5 or less girls
- Sunny – 12 boys, 5 or less girls
- Toby – 78 boys, 5 or less girls
- Tristan – 38 boys, 5 or less girls
- Troy – 9 boys, 5 or less girls
- Zion – 15 or less boys, 5 or less girls

The most masculine unisex name is **Noah**, which is #6 for boys, and very rare for girls (perhaps not used at all). Noah can also be a Hebrew name for girls, from a completely different derivation than the male name Noah. I was not able to find any women named Noah in Australian records, but this might be because the high volume of male ones obscured them.

So … how unisex is a unisex name? Disappointingly, the answer seems to be “not very”. Most unisex names are in fact used much more by one sex over another, and those that are given fairly equally to both boys and girls do not have a high level of use.

I see no reason why a boy cannot be called **Sage**, or a girl **Memphis**, but even these obviously unisex names are skewed either female or male in the data.

Some people worry that girls are “taking all the boys names“, which will lead to some kind of naming cataclysm of epic proportions. Others look forward to an era when parents feel free to choose whatever name they like, unconstrained by gender.

So far, there is little evidence of either this fear or hope coming into being. Although we all seem to know a boy named** Jade** or a girl named **Arlo**, their numbers are too insignificant to show up in the data.

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Shann

said:Can I ask what you mean by theoretically unisex? I would think that most of these examples have a clear historical gender association. I’m not anti-unisex names, just confused by the examples such as Pearl….

waltzingmorethanmatilda

said:In the 19th century, gemstone names were given to both boys and girls, so historically Pearl is a unisex name. The writer Zane Grey was actually named Pearl, for example. On the Bewitching Names blog, Pearl is still suggested as a potential boy’s name.

It was very difficult to decide what names “counted” as unisex, when in theory, any name at all can be given to either sex (in Australia, and in all English-speaking countries, I think).

At one point, I did consider only counting names which had been unisex since Federation. The trouble was, that left names such as Eden classed as “girls only”, when, as you can see, enough boys are called Eden to show up in the data.

So I agree it’s very tricky, and in the end I counted any name I could think that had had SOME history as a name for both sexes, or ones which I constantly saw suggested on other blogs as suitable for either sex to use.

Some didn’t surprise me (no great shock people don’t call their sons Florence for example); on the other hand, there were quite a few names that I thought would be fine for a boy (eg Winter), but only used by girls, or fine for a girl (eg Ash), but only used by boys.

Ich und die Namen

said:I really like unisex names, but they are not really common in German-speaking countries. There is also the law that states that the name must reveal the gender of the person. So unisex names are only allowed if you add a second name, which reveals the gender.

waltzingmorethanmatilda

said:I do think that is actually a good rule to follow, because if someone was called Blair Taylor, for example, you really wouldn’t have a clue.

I wonder how many of the names which are considered unisex here would be counted as definitely gendered in German-speaking countries? For example, is Eden a girl, boy or unisex name?

Kira

said:I just have to comment on your example of Blair Taylor…I have cousins (sisters) named Blair Elizabeth and Taylor Alayne!

waltzingmorethanmatilda

said:Haha … I like the way you can tell they are girls from their middle names. 🙂

Ich und die Namen

said:I think that Eden is generally considered to be female. I don´t think there is a list with all unisex names, but it depends on the city where the child is born. There are registry offices, which categorize and allow the names

Kira

said:Excellent list! I love your blog. I live in the US, and it breaks my heart that Riley is overwhelmingly used for girls here. It’s a family name for us and if we were to have a boy (we have 2 girls already and might be done?) I would love to use it but I am sure he would be the only male Riley among a sea of girls named Rylee, Riley, and Ryleigh. 😦

waltzingmorethanmatilda

said:I guess he would be in the same position as a girl named Riley in Australia, surrounded by boys of the same name. I’m sure they’re fine, and your son would be too. And look at the boys called Eden and Harper – they’re in the minority for their gender, but I bet they’re completely fine too.

Riley is only just outside the Top 100 for boys in the US at the moment (though falling). Although as you say, all the variant spellings for girls make the name even more popular for girls than it appears.

I’d say, go for it! And if you are really worried, make it a middle name, and he can decide for himself whether he’d like to be called Riley or not. When it comes to middle names, gender lines become a lot more fluid. There’s lots of cases where a boy with a gender-neutral middle name has chosen to use that as his name eg surfer Kelly Slater, first name Robert.

Kira

said:Thank you so much for your thoughtful response, I am sure you are right that he would be just fine…and I think I would regret not using it, especially if the only reason were because it happens to be more popular for girls here at the moment! And I suppose if it really bothered him, he could always move to Australia! 😉

waltzingmorethanmatilda

said:He would be very welcome! 🙂

ebie778822

said:Home and away must have something to do with Casey being used more on boys. And I know 3 female Clancys but it is still all boy to me.

waltzingmorethanmatilda

said:Casey was used more on boys historically, because the name started charting in the 1970s as a unisex name, but more common for boys (there were three popular songs in the 1970s about men named Casey).

In the 1980s and ’90s it became more popular for girls – there was a girl named Casey Mitchell on Home and Away in the 1990s.

As the name has become less popular, it’s become more used for boys again. Casey Braxton only joined H&A in 2011, so I think that’s too recently to have made a real difference yet.

I’m the same – I know Clancy is sometimes used for girls, but I can only think of it as male.