Maxwell: Boy name or girl name?

Could Maxwell become a girl name?

As of right now, it’s used almost exclusively for baby boys:

  • 2010: 2,985 baby boys and 5 baby girls named Maxwell
  • 2009: 3,068 baby boys (and <5 baby girls) named Maxwell
  • 2008: 3,050 baby boys and 5 baby girls named Maxwell
  • 2007: 2,711 baby boys and 6 baby girls named Maxwell
  • 2006: 2,789 baby boys and 5 baby girls named Maxwell
  • 2005: 2,809 baby boys (and <5 baby girls) named Maxwell

But I think that could change.

Several months ago, a minor celebrity named her daughter Maxwell Lue.

And rumor has it that singer Jessica Simpson is also considering Maxwell (nickname Maxi) for her baby girl due in a couple of weeks.

(In fact, the rumor has gotten so much press that I think the rumor itself could influence expectant parents — regardless of what Simpson actually names her baby.)

Do you think celebrities naming their baby girls Maxwell will inspire enough non-celeb parents to follow suit that Maxwell becomes dual-gender (à la Rory, Elliot, Charlie, Avery & Peyton)?

Do you like Maxwell as a girl name, or do you prefer it on boys only?

P.S. Maxwell was originally a habitational surname. It was first recorded in 12th century Scotland as Mackeswell, meaning “Mack’s spring” or “Mack’s stream.” Mack was a short form of the Scandinavian name Magnus, which comes from the Latin word for “great.”

9 thoughts on “Maxwell: Boy name or girl name?

  1. What? I’m pretty conservative on the gender divide in names, and this is no exception. Maxwell doesn’t sound feminine to me at all. I can understand some names that have made the switch, even if I don’t like it. I think names like Elliot kind of work because they have soft sounds in them, and an easily extracted feminine nickname (Ellie). Maxwell has none of those things going for it. Then again, I know three girls named Sawyer, and I think it sounds horridly masculine too.

  2. As much as Maxwell, on its own, is masculine to me, I’m coming to the realization that surnames are unisex names, regardless of whether or not they’re in the family tree.

    Where once Mama’s “maiden” name or other family tree name may only have been used for a son or in the middle spot, in an era where parents only have one child, the favorite name from the family tree is going to be used for the child, regardless of gender. And anything fair game from the family tree is going to seep over into general usuage, whether or not there’s a family connection.

    Of course, this only applies to surnames from certain languages that lend themselves to forenames, as we culturally perceive them. I can’t see, for example, Guttenberg being converted.

  3. Congratulations to the Simpson Johnson baby! I think Maxwell Drew is a fine name!

  4. The whole name Maxwell Drew Johnson sounds completely masculine and for the rest of her life she will have to correct folks on her gender. Maxwell is a male name, and will be hard to make it completely unisex.

  5. The 2011 baby name lists were just released by the SSA. Maxwell didn’t make an appearance on the girls’ list:

    2011: 3022 boys, not listed for girls
    2010: 3005 boys, 5 girls
    2009: 3072 boys, not listed for girls

    “Not listed” means the name didn’t make the 5-baby minimum. (So, the real number is anywhere from 0 to 4.)

  6. TNT has a show coming out called King & Maxwell, about a pair of private investigators. The “Maxwell” is Michelle Maxwell, played by Rebecca Romijn.

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