Shea, Shae, Shay – Girl Names or Boy Names?

Shea, Shae and Shay - girl names or boy names?

This question has been bringing a lot of traffic to my blog lately, so I thought I’d post about it and see what everyone thinks.

Most of us know of Shea as a surname and/or a stadium name. Shea doesn’t currently rank in the top 1,000 for either boys or girls, but the name and its various spellings do appear further down on the SSA’s list:

Shea 247 girls 155 boys
Shae 114 girls 25 boys
Shay 107 girls 82 boys
Shaye 39 girls 20 boys
Shai* 34 girls 44 boys
Totals: 541 (62%) 326 (38%)

Most versions are used more often for girls than for boys.

What do you think — is Shea a boy name or a girl name? How about other versions of the name? (Does spelling matter?)

*Commenter Panya correctly notes that Shai also happens to be an unrelated Hebrew name. It’s impossible to know which Shais are which, though, so I just counted them all as versions of Shea above.

43 Responses to Shea, Shae, Shay – Girl Names or Boy Names?

  1. It’s male, no matter the spelling, or how many girls have it.

    Oh, and I’d assume Shai was the Hebrew name, pronounced ‘shy’ not ‘shay’.

  2. I only know girls with this name, so I think of it as a girl’s name.

    On a slightly different note, I often see it paired with Skye/Skylar/Schuyler. Do you have any idea why these names suddenly became popular in the late ’80s & early ’90s, particularly Schuyler?

  3. @Panya – I’m sure some of the babies (esp. the boys) named Shai did get the Hebrew name. But the rest of the babies (esp. the girls) named Shai likely got it as a twist on Shea, so I thought it should be included.

  4. The first Shae I ever knew was actually named Shaelyn, so my instinct is to say girl. However, since Shea is an anglicized form of Séaghdha, that version seems very male.

    (I don’t actually care for the name, unless it’s a nickname for Séamus/Shamus, simply because it makes me think of shea butter.)

  5. I agree with Panya. It’s male, no matter how many girls have it.

  6. I only know male Sheas so I’d vote boy.

    Julie, it reminds me of Shea butter, too!

  7. Apparently I have amnesia. I posted about this very topic just a few months ago:

    Naming a Baby Boy Shay – Yea or Nay?

    Sorry about repeating myself. I completely forgot about that post.

  8. It can go either way but it’s a very feminine name in my opinion. So more for girls.

  9. My boyfriend is called Shay, so for his sake I will say male. My unlce said it was a girl’s name.

  10. obviously i love the name. heard it when i was about 9 years old and i knew then if i ever had a daughter her name would be shay. i think it could go either way just like alot of names these days ie shawn, donnie, and even mike.
    ps i paired it with danielle which i believe adds the femine

  11. I know many girls named Shay/Shae and one boy named Shea, he hates it because he claims his parents gave him a girls name, which I would have to agree with…

  12. @shays mom:

    I’m sorry, but Shawn is absolutely a male name. Naming your daughter Shawn is just trying to make it more acceptable for them to wear men’s boxers and cargo pants.

  13. I think it can go wither way!!
    And I have a question myself, Do you think Julz is a boy or a girls name?

  14. We named our daughter Jillian Shai. Shai is Hebrew and means gift from God. We thought it was a very pretty name with such a beautiful meaning. We were going with Grace but the name has become way to popular and we wanted something a little more unique. Just as my name is universally used for both male/female, so is Shai (however you choose to spell it).

  15. My name is Shae and i know very few with the same name but the few i do are girls i think it’s a girl name
    p.s i’m a girl

  16. it doesn’t really matter whether it’s a girl’s name or a boy’s name. many names like jessie and alex started out as boys’ names but have become girls’ names.

  17. The origin of the name Shea is Irish/ Gaelic. I live in Ireland and Shea/ Shay are very popular names for boys but I have never heard them being used for girls in Ireland (but I have in America).

  18. Correct Niamh my son is called Shay.iam English but have some Irish background.

  19. Well my names Shaye. Ima Girl and I would of thought that this name is a unisex name but boys would spell it different from girls

  20. My name is Shea. Last name begins with a Mc
    Can’t get any more Irish than that. Let me make
    this very clear… Shea is a MALE Irish name. So go
    ahead and keep naming your girls Shay (if this
    spelling of the name justifies you reason for naming a
    girl a boys name) because almost all girls I have met
    with the name Shay not the correct Shea are HOT!!!

  21. We have a son named Shaye. We liked the hebrew meaning ift from God because he was. Born 2 pounds 2 at 31 weeks – he’s now 3 running around like a cheeky monkey! It can go either way I say – just for him, nothing suited until we held a card with his name on it beside his incubater and when we said “Shaye” to him, it was the only name he responded to with a wee sigh and smile :)

  22. Ooops – meant “gift from God” not “ift”! People are surprised by our choice as our children are a mix of Samoan, German, Asian (my side) and European, Maori, Irish, Scottish, English (husband’s side). Shaye went will with his last name – Ormsby :)

  23. my name is Shay, I am a female. This is a really common name for girls my age (29) so I have notice in my home town. My middle name is Rochelle, works for me now, but as a kid I hated it.

  24. Hi im a boy called Shea and had this discussion with several people. Here is what i have come to believe that SHEA is a boys name short for sheamus(irish, my name isnt sheamus its shea but i have irish blood)however it can be a girls name aswell it just depends on how you want to spell it like SHAY and SHAE and SHAI and typically the more feminine version of shea(however you want to spell it) and too be honest i really dont think it matters what gender it is, it can have the name.

  25. Being Irish, I named my son, Shea Daniel Mc…. Ignorance would have people making comments that it is a girls name because of…whatever. Gaelic Origin, NOT AMERICAN…It means Hawklike, Irish form of John. Yes, in America they like the sound and give it to girls with different spellings, but it does not change that it’s origin is Gaelic, means Hawk like and Irish form of John.

  26. my name is Shea and so you know I’m a girl … I don’t think it honestly matters how you spell the name or if it’s for a boy or girl it’s a unisex name just like Jamie or Ashley or Shaun or anything like that … I’ve never met anyone with my name nor has anyone ever said to me it’s a boys name I also have Irish blood but that doesn’t mean I have a boys name specially cause I how it’s a spelt … my middle name is adele so it goes lovely together they only problem is people never pronounce it properly bit annoying!

  27. My maiden name was Shea, originally it was O’Shea, family is also originally from county cork ireland. I love the name and I hate when it’s spelled incorrectly. I had a time growing up and teachers pronouncing my last name. They would say Sheeee-uuh? I would say “no” have you ever heard of Shea’s stadium? So then they understood. I think the name sounds femanin. But the name is Irish and if the Irish say its a male name then it’s a male name. Enough said. Haha.

  28. I’m from Derry, Ireland the name shèa is for a boy. My sons names Shea-Liam Breslin full Irish name never in my life if heard a girl called Shea, but my son got called she a in Scotland were my partner from if drive me crazy

  29. I am a girl and i have to say I have NEVER met guy with the name Shea, Shay or in any form of those names. But does it really matter if it is a guys’ name or girls’ name? In my opinion no it doesnt matter. I just like to think people who are named Shai or however you wanna spell it are just as special as children with other names. One thing though about the name Shea only spelled Shai, people always say it wrong they say Shy.

  30. It’s a traditioal Irish male name. However many inner city American’s with little to no education have given it to girls. Thanks a lot, you make my life difficult.

  31. It’s not a name it just makes me think of Shea Butter like calling a child Jojoba or Hibiscus what are we naming children from cosmetic and bathroom washes these days honestly

  32. Its a boys name, my sons name is Shay and I know its a boys name because we have family in Ireland and asked them to make sure, there are other ways to spell it like (Shea) Neary the Liverpool boxer

  33. It’s a boys name, of Irish descent.. I’m Irish, born in Ireland & still living here, 100% boys name!

  34. Definitely a boys name. It’s atrocious on a girl. I think americans need to stop disrespecting other nationalities names’ and using them on the wrong genders.

  35. My name is Shea and I am a female. Love my name! Does anyone else that is named this have problems with people thinking its pronounced as She-ah???

  36. I am 16 , a female and called Shaye – Erin. I love my name, have met a couple of boys – Shea, but no girls. Love bein unique and not one of the Stacey, Danielle, Hayley, Courtney, Chelsea brigade.

  37. I have a sister named Shaylon and we call her Shay. I never thought it could be a boys name but I guess it could. But Shaylon is a good suggestion if you are looking for a boy or girls name.

  38. My name is Shayla short Shay. My Mom heard it on the Price is Right!

  39. By the way I am a female.

  40. I had a friend at primary school called Shailene. Now that’s a very girlie version of Shay/Shae/Shea…& if you think that’s a modern version let me tell you I am now 64 ! Shailene was born in 1948 like me !

  41. I have named my son O’Shae (Originated from Ireland) and i have had mixed responses. Do you think this name is feminine or masculine or both???? Hsve I spelt the name in a feminine way?? What are your thoughts???

    Please share your thoughts and opinions…..

  42. I love the name Shae for a boy or a girl. I flirted with the idea of calling my first son Shae but went for Callum instead. I associate it with an Irish name for a boy but my boss’s gorgeous daughter is called Shay and that’s what got me thinking if I ever have a little pink one- this would be just as lovely for a girl!

  43. I think Shea is defiantly a girls name. I’m biased because I am a girl and that’s my name, but I also lived with a girl in college with the same name and spelling.. I have only met one guy named Shay, spelt differently.

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