What turned Nico (briefly) into a girl name?

In places like Italy and Spain, Nico (pronounced nee-ko) is a masculine name. It’s used most often for baby boys in the United States as well, but was trendier for girls from the late ’60s to the mid-’70s:

197611 baby girls named Nico18 baby boys named Nico
197512 baby girls named Nico10 baby boys named Nico
19748 baby girls named Nico9 baby boys named Nico
197318 baby girls named Nico14 baby boys named Nico
197215 baby girls named Nico14 baby boys named Nico
197122 baby girls named Nico15 baby boys named Nico
197019 baby girls named Nico12 baby boys named Nico
196918 baby girls named Nico11 baby boys named Nico
19687 baby girls named Nico10 baby boys named Nico
19677 baby girls named Nico [debut]7 baby boys named Nico

Why?

Because of mononymous singer Nico, who became famous during the late ’60s thanks to her performances in various Andy Warhol projects. She starred in the hit film Chelsea Girls (1966), for instance, and in 1967 she was featured on the albums The Velvet Underground & Nico and Chelsea Girl.

One factor that no doubt helped “Nico” catch on as a girl name (at least temporarily) was the trendiness of the name Nicole during the ’60s and ’70s. (I should mention that the late ’60s is also when the name Chelsea started taking off.)

Nico’s real name was Christa Päffgen. She began using her stage name (which was inspired by an ex-boyfriend named Nikos) while modeling as a teenager.

A few decades later, the male usage of “Nico” rose sharply thanks to the All My Children character Nico Kelly, who was on the soap opera from 1987 to 1989. In fact, Nico was the fastest-rising boy name of 1988. (The name of his girlfriend Cecily also saw much higher usage around that time.)

19909 baby girls named Nico266 baby boys named Nico [rank: 621st]
19898 baby girls named Nico314 baby boys named Nico [rank: 548th]
19885 baby girls named Nico96 baby boys named Nico [rank: 989th]
1987unlisted10 baby boys named Nico

What are your thoughts on the name Nico? Do you like it better as a girl name, or as a boy name?

Source: Nico – Wikipedia

P.S. A similar thing happened to the name Luka two decades later…

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