When Can We Officially Call Aubrey a Girl Name?

I found the comments on the Aubrey vs. Audrey post very interesting. Four people stated that they wouldn’t name a baby girl Aubrey because Aubrey is a boy name.

They’re correct, of course. Aubrey has been given to baby boys for hundreds of years.

But, if they’re in the U.S., they’re also incorrect. Here, Aubrey has been used primarily for baby girls since the mid-1970s, and the name is more popular for females right now than it’s ever been for males.

So, in terms of history, Aubrey is a boy name. But in terms of usage, at least in this region, Aubrey is a girl name.

I wonder…for those in the “Aubrey is a boy name” camp (and in the U.S.), how long would Aubrey have to be used primarily for girls before you’d accept it as a girl name? Or would you refuse to accept it as a girl name, regardless of usage?

50 thoughts on “When Can We Officially Call Aubrey a Girl Name?

  1. Regardless of usage, it will always be a male name. It’s simply a male name used on girls. Just like Kelly, Meredith, Mackenzie, Madison, Alexis, Jocelyn, Reese, etc.

    Years ago I met a little girl named Aubrianna [pronounced aw-bree-AH-nuh / ???bri????n?], and since then I’ve felt this is a lovely alternative to using Aubrey on a girl.

  2. Oops, I was attempting to type IPA symbols to clarify pronunciation. Apparently they aren’t supported. Sorry.

  3. I don’t think the name will ever STOP being a boys’ name. It is silly, though, to deny the fact that it has crossed into unisex territory… Gone the way of Avery, Jamie, Kelly, etc, etc….

  4. This reminds me of: http://motivatedgrammar.wordpress.com/2010/08/23/why-do-so-many-people-hate-gender-neutral-words-oh-s/, especially the comment section. The blogger (a linguist) answers his own semi-rhetorical question, “why-do-so-many-people-hate-gender-neutral-words,” with:
    I’m especially glad that a lot of people have made explicit what I had left implicit: namely, that the most reasonable explanation for let’s-leave-all-words-masculine camp is a desire to maintain the patriarchy.

    It’s not an exact parallel to this discussion, of course, but it might be interesting to discuss WHY so many people seem to hate unisex names, or unisex usage of once-gendered names, especially male names.

    (Sorry, Nancy, if you don’t like links in your comment sections. Please delete this if it bothers you at all.)

  5. My biggest problem with Aubrey becoming a unisex name is when parent’s feel it’s necessary to create new feminine spellings. If Aubrey was truly becoming unisex, we wouldn’t see Aubrie, Aubri, Aubry and Aubree.

  6. Well for me, all these names that were once more popular for boys, and originated in the male territory, will always remain male. No way am I ever gonna consider names like Aubrey, Shelby, Shannon, Riley, Sydney, Vivian, etc, female. I may consider them “unisex” in usage, but never a female name.

  7. Aubrey for me is really a girl name. I don’t now what people may think if you will name your baby boy Aubrey. Well, it is still the right of the parents what to name their babies. Thank you for posting.

  8. I’m with Panya & SkyeRhyly – names like Aubrey that were originally male won’t actually become female, no matter how often they’re given to girls. Just like “irregardless” or “conversate” don’t become real words, and “alot” or “wierd” don’t become the proper spellings, no matter how many people use them as if they were correct. Their usage can (and in many cases has) become unisex, acceptable for both men & women, but technically they are still male names, and there will probably be a small subset of English speakers for whom these will always seem “wrong” for the opposite sex. Personally, I wouldn’t name a daughter Aubrey simply because I can’t “hear” it as a girl’s name. But, I don’t look down on parents who use it for girls, either, not in 2010.

  9. Sorry for coming late to the discussion, but I think another view needs to be expressed here.

    I “know” that Aubrey is a boys name, but I consider it to be really a girl name. Probably because I have gone my entire life without hearing it ever used for a boy. So that would probably be my cutoff – when an overwhelming majority of the uses of the name have been girls for over a generation. I have never heard of a male Ashley (besides Ashley Wilkes), so I think of it as a feminine name. I have known a male Robin, so that name is unisex. Plus, I think Robin Hood is a bigger association to most than Ashley Wilkes is.

    And I have to disagree that “irregardless” and “conversate” don’t become real words. I believe they will eventually. Even if those particular words don’t become accepted, languages change over time. New words form, old ones become obsolete, and other words change meanings. I intended to put specific examples but decided that I’ve waited so long already that I shouldn’t wait to post until I got around to double-checking my examples.

  10. Personally, I’ve always thought of Aubrey as a feminine name, but that probably has to do with the fact that one of my childhood friends was a girl named Aubrey.

  11. My daughter born on Sept 19 last year is named Aubrey and I can’t see it used as a boy’s name. I don’t know how people think Shannon, Kelly, or Vivian is a boys’ name in this day and age. That’s a whole new world to me…. hrmmmm

  12. I don’t know one boy named Aubrey, other then the rapper Drake. I know many, many girls named Aubrey though. It might have originated as a boys name but naming your son Aubrey, Kelly, Shannon, Vivian, Shelby, Sydney or even Avery right now in the US seems a bit cruel because the kid will have the same name as 3 other GIRLS in his class…

  13. My daughter Aubrey Jade was born june 14 2001 and I can’t imagine calling her anything but Aubrey

  14. My son’s name is Aubry. His great grandpa was Aubrey. I have a church friend that has a son in law Aubrey. Aubrey Huff plays for the San Fransisco Giants. Aubrey Coleman plays college basketball for Houston… Aubrey means “elf King”. So it is most definitely a boys name that was popularized and used as a girls name.

  15. I agree with Christy! Aubrey is a boys name, yes it may be used on boys but its not unisex or feminine it is simply people using boys names on girls. I would also like to say that girls are taking over all the good strong boys names like Tyler, Luke, Carson, Carter & Ashley.
    When i have a son his name will be Aubrey Christopher. Sorry about being a year late on this post

  16. Re: Aimees comment above; agree Aubrey is a boys name but take issue with ‘good strong boys names like…..’. Tyler, Carson and Carter are SURNAMES. Why are people callling their children by surnames, like Connor, Kelly, Flynn, McKenzie, Harrison etc?

  17. Male name. Like Sue is a Female name.
    You might have the weirdos that want to cross-name their poor kids who will always be branded as odd/strange/different, and that si a shame. So.
    Aubrey, as in Huff, Guy name. If your baby has balls go for it, if not, forget about it.

  18. Well im aubrey and im a guy. Also there is the author of the whiteshroud series, his name is aubrey andrews and he is also a guy

  19. Well I am Aubri and a female ( prob figures that out from the spelling) however I went to school with a guy named Aubrey and I see that named used on males a good bit. I think it was def started as a male name however even baby name books have adapted elf ruler or ruler of the little people and are leaning away from the king wording.

  20. @Aubri – That’s a really interesting observation! I hadn’t noticed the wording shift (gendered “king” to ungendered “ruler”) but I’ll be on the lookout for it from now on.

  21. People on here are funny! Whether a name seems feminine or masculine, thats all up to the person who is saying the name. Aubrey may have been used on men for years, but times have changed. I feel that it is a unisex name because its become a very common girls name and a beautiful name at that. When I have a girl I plan on naming her Aubrey. I love the name for a girl. I personally find the name very very feminine and the thought of a boy being named this seems very odd. I find it funny how some people on here classify whats a girls name.. whats a boys name and whats unisex..Aimee, you mentioned strong boys names and started listing some very common strong boys names..but then you ended your list with Ashley! Which is a very strong girls name. Some of you have mentioned unisex names like Riley and Avery, but then some of you go on and list more “unisex names” and list names like Kelly, Shannon, Vivian,and Shelby.. which are not unisex names at all! These are very common girls names and always have been. There very feminine names and putting one of these names on a boy would just seem mean. However every parent has a right to name their child whatever they wish. Whether we think a name should be a boys name or a girls name..its not up to us. People will give their children a name that they feel is beautiful and no matter what we will always come across names that we dont like.

  22. Hello, i am a female named Aubrey. I know about 10 Aubrey’s that are also girls and one boy named Aubrey. I hear the name become very popular throughout the US. I honestly love my name, its very unique. My parents were about to name me Audrey im glad they didnt becauseAubrey just suits me better.

  23. Aubrey is not a mans name. It’s a unisex name. Yes it’s been used on men for years and years.. but guess what? It’s been used on women since the middle ages as well! Aubrey has started to become popular again in the 1970s when Bread came out with their song “aubrey.” since then this unisex name is found more on girls. I can’t stop laughing when i read that people are calling Aubrey a boy name. It’s not, its a unisex name. Read up on it. Everyone seems to have a different idea of whats considered a girl name, boy name or unisex.

  24. Panya, I’m sorry but I have to say that all of those names you listed.. are all female names. Those names have never been male names and have never been unisex names either. Sorry but anyone who would give their sons those names, have issues.

  25. Regardless of usage, this name will always be masculine to me. Personally, I just don’t find feminine or at all appealing for a little girl though I accept that others do. What I personally dislike most is when someone tells me I can’t use this name for a boy because “it’s a girls name” when in fact it is NOT a girls name, if anything it’s unisex <,– and that much i can accept, so why can't others? If people want to claim that Elliot and Logan are unisex just so they feel better about using them on girls, then why the hell is it any different with people using Aubrey on boys (the correct gender). I could care less if it's a popular choice for girls, if you want to use it for your daughter go for it, I can't stop you but don't breath down MY neck when I want to use it on a boy, because I'm not getting on your case about it.

  26. Here’s an interesting essay written by a mom who named her son Aubrey: What I learned by giving my son a “girly” name.

    An excerpt from the middle:

    On more than one occasion, I’ve encountered surprised and confused looks when I tell people that my son’s name is Aubrey. I’ve even heard from more outspoken folks that “Aubrey is a girl’s name,” and they had never heard of it being given to a boy before. Strangers will call my son “she” or “her” despite the fact that they can clearly see he is a BOY. While I do make sure I set the record straight with these people, explaining the meaning behind the moniker (king of elves, not queen of elves, ahem), I’d be lying if I said it didn’t hurt me a little each time it happens.

    And from the end:

    While I still believe Aubrey is a solidly male name, I now realize not everyone does. Accepting that people are going to mistake the gender of my son has been a tough lesson, but I’m learning that while I can’t control other people’s opinions, I can control my reactions to them.

    For this reason, I’m working to curb my defensiveness and will take on the task of educating those about the history and meaning behind my son’s name. After all, my little elf king is worth it.

  27. To me, Aubrey will always be a male name. I think in England, though, there are definitely more male Aubrey’s than females. My grandfather, great grandfather, and great great grandfather were all Aubrey’s, so the name runs in my family. I’ve always thought it would be neat to name my son after my grandfather. In fact, I had no idea Aubrey was considered a female name until I searched about the name online! I don’t know a single female named Aubrey but do know a few other males.

  28. @Shannon maybe you should educate yourself on name origins instead of writing ridiculous stuff. Oh, and you also have a BOYS name, its not a unisex name or a girls name, its a boys name. There.

    @Sarah: i also suggest you educate yourself in baby names, because clearly you have no clue. Those may be popular girl names in terms of usage, but they are boy names in origin! And for me, and any respectful name nerd, is all that matters in determening the gender of a name.

  29. My daughter, Aubrey, is our fourth generation Aubrey. Aubrey was her grandfather, great-grandfather, and great-great-grandfather’s middle name. She is grown now. All of her life people have commented that her name is beautiful. No regrets.

    I’m glad that I had a girl to pass the name on to. Wouldn’t have done it to a boy.

  30. Since Aubrey is my middle name and I am a male my position is it should duel gender with make vs female denoted by spelling. Aubrie = girl and Aubrey = boy. Btw met a little girl last week named Tommie :-/

  31. My daughter is named Aubrey Anne. The only people I’ve talked to saying that it is a men’s name are over 70. I have never met a boy or man named Aubrey. I have known 6 girls named Aubry. I don’t see why the spelling needs to be made more cutesy. Her twin sister is named Claire which is a variation of a man’s name. Clare was for Clare county Ireland.

  32. I just name my daughter Aubrianna but we call her Aubrey. I have never herd a man/boy called Aubrey. I herd Stacy, Kelly, Billie,& sasha a boy/girl name.

  33. I have a daughter on the way and Aubrey or other spelling variations is one of our top contenders.

    While I can see boys or girls being named this – so to me unisex – it just sounds more feminine regardless, just as other names that have been listed Kelly, Ashley, Shelly.

    I’m sure there are some that are not, but almost all names with the ‘ee’ sound at the end sounds very feminine – to me.

    Many have stated “the origin is male – so it’s a male name” seems very closed minded. Things change and evolve just as how now when you look up the name on other sites it doesn’t use gender specific words for its definition anymore.

    It’s like saying my Boston Terrier is a wolf because it’s origin is that of the same ancestor. I think we can all agree my Boston Terrier is no wolf.

  34. @Chris – With a gender neutral name like “Chris” (I cannot tell from the post your gender), does that give you incentive to name your child a more gender specific name rather than a unisex name? I have a son named “Avery”, naming him after several male relatives with the same name. In our family, we do not consider it to be a feminine name. It is traditionally a male name but has become at trendy female name without a doubt. There are many who might think it “close-minded” to state that almost all names that end in the ‘ee’ sound are feminine.
    I do know a teenage “Christopher” who so dislikes the gender-neutral sound of “Chris” that he goes by the name “Topher”. A clever way to make the name his own! Perhaps your daughter will choose to be referred to as “Bri”?

    @Nancy – With so much awareness to LGBT issues, is there a rise in unisex name usage? With so much in the news about recognizing and respecting the rights of all when claiming their sexual identity, and the rise in the number of people presenting as the opposite gender from the gender with which they were born, has that increased the use of gender-neutral names? If a child is given a gender-neutral name, it would be much easier for them to make that transformation. I wonder, as we move forward, if enlightened parents will consider this when naming their children? I have a relative who is 7 who was born male but insists on presenting to the world as female. The parents have changed this child’s name by replacing the final letter of the first name from “r” to an
    “a”. As Chris (above) says, “things change and evolve” and perhaps this sensitivity to LGBT is driving the “gender-neutral” definitions for names?

  35. In reference to my post above -seems that my response post to Diana with my mistake was removed due to that error – so you can disregard It.

    I will try and remember everything in my original response.

    @Diana

    My full name is Christopher and I am male. I never minded Chris growing up, though it wasn’t really that gender neautral in the area I had grown up. But can very easily see that it is.

    I was named after my father and so was a Jr. and have always proud and happy with my name.

    (Diana)
    “does that give you incentive to name your child a more gender specific name rather than a unisex name?”

    No, we are going to name her what feels right, that we like, that fits our family – regardless.

    In fact my son is Christopher III

    (Diana)
    “There are many who might think it “close-minded” to state that almost all names that end in the ‘ee’ sound are feminine.”

    For those who might think my statement is close-minded, here is my rebuttal.

    I said:
    “I’m sure there are some that are not, but almost all names with the ‘ee’ sound at the end sounds very feminine – to me.”

    And Avery would be one of those names that fall into the group in the first part of my statement – it may or may not be unisex but sounds masculine to me.

    I said “sounds” feminine not “are” feminine, there is a difference.
    Also if you notice a lot of statements end in “to me” trying to emphasize that it is a personal taste/preference.

    These two things bring in my above simile:
    It is like me saying brussel sprouts taste bad. I am not saying that they “are” bad, that at their core are bad and other people couldn’t possibly like them – it is personal taste/preference.

    And like one of the things that I said in my original post – I hope we can agree – that tastes and preferences fall under it and can and usually do change over time.

    I may have missed something from my original response but this should do.

  36. @Chris – Sorry it took me a while to approve/edit that comment from a few hours ago. Haven’t been at my computer. Thank you for coming back and continuing the discussion!

  37. @Nancy – it is completely fine, thanks for taking the time

    Would it be possible to remove the original post then – and also the smaller post that would not be relevant anymore? May help to avoid confusion.

  38. Aubrey was used as a girls name after the group Bread used the name in a popular song. “Aubrey” the first line reads “and Aubrey was her name ” that’s when I fell in love with the name. I looked it up in a baby book and it was only under boys names! I decided to use it anyway in 1983 when our daughter Aubrey was born. Now you will see it in baby books as both a girls and boys name. Like Lindsey, Ashley, Carol, Courtney, etc … These were all boys names first.

  39. It astounds me that people have such strong feelings towards the use of a name. Does it matter to you that I named my daughter Aubree? Does it effect you in any way? You can call your son Aubrey and I don’t care. It’s like you have nothing better to do with your time than to criticise other people’s lives.

    Yes, Aubrey originated as a male name, but it’s usage indicates it is now a unisex or female name, depending on where you live and how it’s used. In Australia it is popular as a female name and has never charted as a male name.
    Names like ashley, Meredith, shannon, etc. May have also originated as male names but in Australia they are female names, with the exception of Shannon which is largely unisex.
    Whether you like it or not, names are not some kind of law written in stone. They are just some creation that is constantly adapted and changed throughout time, so yes, usage does change what gender it is seen as. Does that mean the opposite sex can never use it again? No.
    The names Blake and James are seen as male names yet Blake Lively and her daughter James have those names. They are ALLOWED to have whatever names they choose, and are not dictated by crazed “baby name nerds”.
    And another note, I’ve been told I “butchered” my daughters name by spelling it Aubree. Again, names change. It was not some desperate attempt to make it feminine because where I live, it is feminine. I have no need to make it feminine. I chose This spelling because I didn’t want people to glance at the name and think it was Audrey. I also just happened to like the ee. As with the name Ashley, it has adapted and is commonly spelled Ashlee, ashleigh, etc.
    I’ve also been told Audrey is the girl name, and Aubrey is the male name, like they are the gender specific variant of eachother. No, they don’t originate from the same place, they aren’t the same. I don’t like the name Audrey and it wouldn’t suit my girl at all. I find Audrey to be harsh and outdated. That is my opinion and it is my right to have any perception of any name, to influence my choice of what to name my children.
    All of you have your own perceptions as well, but please stop trying to force the notion that names must fit and remain in one category from their first use. If everything stayed the same, we would never evolve. Not to mention, you all get so hyped in this gender specific argument, that you all actually become so rude and tactless, which doesn’t win you any respect for your opinions anyway.

  40. @Samantha: I absolutely agree with you people should be able to name their children whatever they like. Who cares what other people think. If a couple likes Ashley or Aubrey for their son then name them it! If they like it for their daughter then name them it! The more people criticize about these names the more they make it a problem for people who have these names. I love Aubrey for a boy or girl. I think it suits both genders well. I named my daughter Aubri but if she was a boy I still would have named her Aubrey. I just love the name Aubrey in general regardless of meaning or origin and Me and my daughter are so happy to meet men and women with that name! :)

  41. Aubrey Graham is the rapper Drake, his given middle name is Drake. Names becoming non gender specific where baby girls are given the name more often, makes them more feminine in the minds of many. Like the authors of baby name books. Tommie, Shannon, Ryan, the list of names is long as mentioned in the above comments. Though I doubt any original posters will have this old running thread on their radar. I disagree that surnames should not be given as first names. On the same topic, middle names were mothers’ maiden names i.e. Family surnames. Plus if the girls keep taking names the boys need surnames like “Graham” . Name your child whatever you want, spell it how you like to, and don’t worry about labels. Aubrey is a boys name used by females, simple.

  42. Carol wrote: “Some of you have mentioned unisex names like Riley and Avery, but then some of you go on and list more “unisex names” and list names like Kelly, Shannon, Vivian,and Shelby.. which are not unisex names at all! These are very common girls names and always have been. There very feminine names and putting one of these names on a boy would just seem mean.”

    Actually the name Shelby has a long history in the southern US as a name for boys. It was the last name of both a Confederate General and the first Governor of Kentucky.

    I would guess given his family history that historian/author Shelby Foote was among those named (indirectly) after General Shelby since it was his father’s name.

    Shelby definitely has been used as female name as well, but it’s far from accurate to say it’s always been a feminine name.

    As for it being “mean” to name a boy Shelby, based on the number of males I’ve met named Shelby, I doubt very many folks living below the Mason-Dixon Line would agree.

    And as for using surnames as first names, that is also a practice that has a long history and is nothing new. Many of the names we think of today as “first names” were originally surnames — Douglas, Ross, Tate, etc.

    In many families it was (is?) common to use the mother’s surname as a name for one of the children. So Susan Randolph marries James Smith end up with two sons, James Jr and Randolph. And if her last name was Claiborne, Sullivan or Jefferson that would have been used.

    As for the name that started this discussion, Aubrey, I think of it as a masculine name even though I’ve only known one Aubrey – who is female. And thanks to Aubrey, Texas, it always makes me think of it as a “cowboy” name at that.

  43. We love the name Aubree for a girl. Infact we intend to name our daughter this in May. Our eldest daughter is called Eden, which is also unisex. Though to us sounds far too feminine to be male, yet we have met boys called Eden. What is wrong with using unisex names? I know of one male Aubrey, he was my friends dad, and one of the nicest men around. My auntie knew only ladies called Aubree, so why should it be any different. Every name comes from somewhere, male and female varieties. I’m Keira, male form Kieran, george, georgia, christopher, christine, etc most names are derrived from one or the other, i do get called kieran too, because in india kiran is a name for girls. Our names come from our parents who pick a name they think is suitable. Both my girls will have unisex names, aubree being spelt that way, Eden loves her name. It makes her different from the 4 Islas in her class, the taylors, tylars, alfies, poppys etc. Giving your child a name that suits you, both names are beautifully feminine and yet show some kind of masculinity too. Surely bringing our children up to accept pink and blue are just colours, not what separate us as genders will help us gap a gender divide. Eden loves super heroes, and my little pony, she loves to play with cars and yet still loves to play dress up and do hair and makeup. I was the only keira in my school until secondary. I loved it. Yet my husband was one of 4 williams. We had 2 sarahs, and 4 Christophers in my one class. Joshua, logan, isla, isobelle etc all very nice names but over used and very common. Not nice if your going to be shouted as isla r, or isla c all your class life. Unisex names and different spellings of names give us something different. And regardless of it being a “male” name i think aubrey/aubree is beautiful, and like the song bread said- “not an ordinary girl or name” why should we be ordinary?

  44. It does not matter how many girls are named Aubrey, that will never change that it is a male name. If we give a man the name “Nancy” does it then mean that Nancy is a male name? No, it is still a female name. Usage does not change what a name is.

  45. @Chris

    Women have the name chris too, not because it is gender neutral or unisex, but because it is short for Christine or Christina. It may be a variation, but it is NOT the same name… or are you saying that you ran into lots of girls named Christopher? (Regardless, usage still does not change the gender)

    Having a name end in y or ee does not make a name feminine. Jimmey is not a female or feminine name.
    Aubrey is a male name, and Audry is female.

  46. Can we please stop to put things in little box ?
    Yeah, things evolve, names too. It was a male name, it’s common for girls now.
    So whatever, it’s unisex.

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