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boy_girl_symbolsI 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

  1. Addison – 76 girls, 7 boys
  2. Ashley – 31 girls, 13 boys
  3. Eden – 65 girls, 7 boys
  4. Harper – 144 girls, 25 boys
  5. 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

  1. Alex – 89 boys, 9 girls
  2. Bailey – 93 boys, 15 girls
  3. Casey – 16 boys, 7 girls
  4. Charlie – 264 boys, 63 girls
  5. Darcy – 78 boys, 10 girls
  6. Hunter – 156 boys, 8 girls
  7. Jamie – 31 boys, 6 girls
  8. Jordan – 120 boys, 13 girls
  9. Phoenix – 48 boys, 14 girls
  10. Riley – 217 boys, 9 girls
  11. 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

  1. Ariel – 12 boys, 11 girls
  2. Asher – 35 boys, 26 girls
  3. Blair – 15 boys, 12 girls
  4. Brooklyn – 17 girls, 15 boys
  5. Emerson – 14 girls, 8 boys
  6. Frankie – 12 boys, 9 girls,
  7. Morgan – 13 boys, 11 girls
  8. Quinn – 30 boys, 24 girls
  9. Remi – 11 boys, 7 girls
  10. Remy – 19 girls, 14 boys
  11. Taylor – 31 girls, 20 boys
  12. Tully – 10 girls, 8 boys
  13. Yi – 10 boys, 8 girls
  14. 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

  1. Alexis – 112 girls, 5 or less boys
  2. Allie – 12 girls, 5 or less boys
  3. Allison – 12 girls, 5 or less boys
  4. Ally – 11 girls, 5 or less boys
  5. Angel – 21 girls, 5 or less boys
  6. Arya – 19 girls, 5 or less boys
  7. Aubrey – 7 girls, 5 or less boys
  8. Avery – 11 girls, 5 or less boys
  9. Bonnie – 52 girls, 5 or less boys
  10. Brooke – 24 girls, 5 or less boys
  11. Cassidy – 8 girls, 5 or less boys
  12. Chelsea – 104 girls, 5 or less boys
  13. Chelsey – 12 girls, 5 or less boys
  14. Clare – 18 girls, 5 or less boys
  15. Cleo – 34 girls, 5 or less boys
  16. Clover – 12 girls, 5 or less boys
  17. Coco – 23 girls, 5 or less boys
  18. Courtney – 12 girls, 5 or less boys
  19. Crystal – 15 girls, 5 or less boys
  20. Dakota – 25 girls, 5 or less boys
  21. Dana – 12 girls, 5 or less boys
  22. Ebony – 66 girls, 5 or less boys
  23. Elisha – 9 girls, 5 or less boys
  24. Erin – 31 girls, 5 or less boys
  25. Esme – 7 girls, 5 or less boys
  26. Evelyn – 68 girls, 5 or less boys
  27. Florence – 26 girls, 5 or less boys
  28. Gigi – 12 girls, 5 or less boys
  29. Ginger – 8 girls, 5 or less boys
  30. Harlow – 18 girls, 5 or less boys
  31. Indiana – 68 girls, 5 or less boys
  32. Indie – 29 girls, 5 or less boys
  33. Indigo – 36 girls, 5 or less boys
  34. Indy – 21 girls, 5 or less boys
  35. Iris – 20 girls, 5 or less boys
  36. Jade – 53 girls, 5 or less boys
  37. Jessie – 14 girls, 5 or less boys
  38. Joyce – 7 girls, 5 or less boys
  39. Kalani – 8 girls, 5 or less boys
  40. Kelly – 14 girls, 5 or less boys
  41. Kelsey – 8 girls, 5 or less boys
  42. Koa – 11 girls, 5 or less boys
  43. London – 11 girls, 5 or less boys
  44. Madison – 134 girls, 5 or less boys
  45. Maria – 26 girls, 5 or less boys
  46. Marley – 40 girls, 5 or less boys
  47. Mary – 42 girls, 5 or less boys
  48. Mika – 11 girls, 5 or less boys
  49. Miley – 22 girls, 5 or less boys
  50. Mischa – 11 girls, 5 or less boys
  51. Nicola – 13 girls, 5 or less boys
  52. Nikita – 27 girls, 5 or less boys
  53. Nikki – 6 girls, 5 or less boys
  54. Noor – 7 girls, 5 or less boys
  55. Olive – 53 girls, 5 or less boys
  56. Paige – 85 girls, 5 or less boys
  57. Paris – 8 girls, 5 or less boys
  58. Payton – 7 girls, 5 or less boys
  59. Pearl – 21 girls, 5 or less boys
  60. Peyton – 24 girls, 5 or less boys
  61. Piper – 68 girls, 5 or less boys
  62. Reese – 7 girls, 5 or less boys
  63. Ruby – 419 girls, 5 or less boys
  64. Sage – 13 girls, 5 or less boys
  65. Scarlet – 6 girls, 5 or less boys
  66. Scarlett – 256 girls, 5 or less boys
  67. Shelby – 19 girls, 5 or less boys
  68. Shiloh – 8 girls, 5 or less boys
  69. Skye – 43 girls, 5 or less boys
  70. Stacey – 6 girls, 5 or less boys
  71. Stevie – 16 girls, 5 or less boys
  72. Sydney – 8 girls, 5 or less boys
  73. Teagan – 13 girls, 5 or less boys
  74. Tegan – 9 girls, 5 or less boys
  75. Tia – 23 girls, 5 or less boys
  76. Vivian – 19 girls, 5 or less boys
  77. Wendy – 8 girls, 5 or less boys
  78. Willow – 129 girls, 5 or less boys
  79. 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 19th century.

Theoretically Unisex Names Only Used by Boys

  1. Adrian – 37 boys, 5 or less girls
  2. Aiden – 144 boys, 5 or less girls
  3. Ali – 65 or less boys, 5 or less girls
  4. Arlo – 28 boys, 5 or less girls
  5. Ash – 8 boys, 5 or less girls
  6. Beau – 75 boys, 5 or less girls
  7. Blake – 163 boys, 5 or less girls
  8. Bodhi – 19 boys, 5 or less girls
  9. Brodie – 55 or less boys, 5 or less girls
  10. Brody – 35 boys, 5 or less girls
  11. Cameron – 53 boys, 5 or less girls
  12. Campbell – 35 boys, 5 or less girls
  13. Chance – 8 boys, 5 or less girls
  14. Chase – 94 boys, 5 or less girls
  15. Chris – 18 boys, 5 or less girls
  16. Clancy – 13 boys, 5 or less girls
  17. Coby – 17 boys, 5 or less girls
  18. Cody – 48 boys, 5 or less girls
  19. Colby – 8 boys, 5 or less girls
  20. Cooper – 248 boys, 5 or less girls
  21. Dallas – 13 boys, 5 or less girls
  22. Dion – 12 boys, 5 or less girls
  23. Dusty – 8 boys, 5 or less girls
  24. Dylan – 146 boys, 5 or less girls
  25. Elliot – 41 boys, 5 or less girls
  26. Elliott – 24 boys, 5 or less girls
  27. Evan – 50 boys, 5 or less girls
  28. Ezra – 13 boys, 5 or less girls
  29. Finlay – 18 boys, 5 or less girls
  30. Finley – 23 boys, 5 or less girls
  31. Francis – 8 boys, 5 or less girls
  32. Harley – 53 boys, 5 or less girls
  33. Hayden – 119 boys, 5 or less girls
  34. James – 381 boys, 5 or less girls
  35. Jay – 18 boys, 5 or less girls
  36. Jesse – 65 boys, 5 or less girls
  37. Joey – 10 boys, 5 or less girls
  38. Jonty – 15 boys, 5 or less girls
  39. Jude – 60 boys, 5 or less girls
  40. Julian – 70 boys, 5 or less girls
  41. Kai – 89 boys, 5 or less girls
  42. Koby – 51 boys, 5 or less girls
  43. Kody – 10 boys, 5 or less girls
  44. Logan – 178 boys, 5 or less girls
  45. Luca – 113 boys, 5 or less girls
  46. Luka – 53 boys, 5 or less girls
  47. Mason – 266 boys, 5 or less girls
  48. Max – 283 boys, 5 or less girls
  49. Maxwell – 49 boys, 5 or less girls
  50. Memphis – 6 boys, 5 or less girls
  51. Micah – 32 boys, 5 or less girls
  52. Milan – 6 boys, 5 or less girls
  53. Miller – 21 boys, 5 or less girls
  54. Musa – 6 boys, 5 or less girls
  55. Myles – 16 boys, 5 or less girls
  56. Noah – 409 boys, 5 or less girls
  57. Oakley – 8 boys, 5 or less girls
  58. Parker – 31 boys, 5 or less girls
  59. Rafferty – 17 boys, 5 or less girls
  60. Reece – 17 boys, 5 or less girls
  61. Reed – 7 boys, 5 or less girls
  62. Reid – 9 boys, 5 or less girls
  63. Reilly – 6 boys, 5 or less girls
  64. Rory – 36 boys, 5 or less girls
  65. Rowan – 12 boys, 5 or less girls
  66. Ryan – 228 boys, 5 or less girls
  67. Sam – 66 boys, 5 or less girls
  68. Saxon – 26 boys, 5 or less girls
  69. Shane – 8 boys, 5 or less girls
  70. Sean – 32 boys, 5 or less girls
  71. Sidney – 7 boys, 5 or less girls
  72. Sunny – 12 boys, 5 or less girls
  73. Toby – 78 boys, 5 or less girls
  74. Tristan – 38 boys, 5 or less girls
  75. Troy – 9 boys, 5 or less girls
  76. 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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