Which unisex baby names were the most popular in 2022?
To figure this out, I did two things. First, I identified all the gender-neutral names in the latest batch of U.S. baby name data. (To qualify as gender-neutral, a name must be given to girls at least one-third of the time and to boys at least one-third of the time.) Second, I sorted those hundreds of gender-neutral names by total usage: male plus female.
The following names came out on top:
The first four names — Parker, River, Charlie, and Blake — were also the top four in 2021.
The five names that entered the top 20 were Shiloh, Salem, Legacy, Skyler, and Denver. Four of the five qualified as unisex in 2021, but ranked lower on the list. Legacy, on the other hand, was slightly over two-thirds male in 2021.
The five names that dropped out of the top 20 were Hayden, Amari, Oakley, Reign, and Milan. All five failed to qualify as unisex in 2022. Hayden, Amari and Milan were given to too many boys; Oakley and Reign were given to too many girls.
Here are those top 20 names again, this time with total counts and gender percentages:
Number of babies*
*Male and female usage added together
So which names came next on the list?
The following, ranked 21st through 35th, all fell within both the girls’ top 1,000 and the boys’ top 1,000 of 2022:
Briar, 924 total babies
And here are the rest of the unisex names that had a combined usage of at least 200 babies (in descending order):
Looking for baby names that are associated with blue — including baby names that mean “blue”?
If so, you’re in the right place! I’ve collected dozens of ideas for you in this post.
Before we get to the names, though, let’s take a quick look at what the color blue represents…
Symbolism of blue
What does the color blue signify?
In Western cultures in particular, blue can be symbolic of:
It can also be associated with melancholy. “To have the blues,” for instance, is an expression meaning “to feel sad.”
Top baby names associated with blue
To determine the top blue names, I first took into account the fact that certain names have a stronger connection to the color than other names. (I also did this for the top purple names and orange names.)
With this in mind, here are the top baby names that have an obvious association with the color blue:
Now here are the same five names again, but this time around I’ve added some details (including definitions, rankings, and popularity graphs).
The word ocean refers to the vast body of salt water that covers over 70% of the earth’s surface — or to any of the five large bodies of water (Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, Antarctic, or Arctic) into which it is divided.
Ocean is currently the 711st most popular boy name and 877th most popular girl name in the U.S.
In the mid-18th century, officers in Britain’s Royal Navy began wearing uniforms that were dyed blue with indigo. The pigment was particularly colorfast (i.e., able to withstand exposure to sun and salt water), so, over time, other countries began to use it for naval dress as well. The dark shade of blue eventually came to be known as “navy blue.”
The word navy refers to a country’s collective sea force. It comes (via French) from the Latin word navigia, meaning “vessels, ships, boats.”
Navy is currently the 452nd most popular girl name in the nation.
The word sky refers to the upper atmosphere, which is bright blue on clear days. It’s based on the Old Norse word ský, which meant “cloud” (ironically).
Sky is currently the 717th most popular girl name in the U.S.
The word indigo refers to flowering plants of the genus Indigofera — particularly the species Indigofera tinctoria — or to the dye made from the leaves of these plants. By extension, it also refers to the purplish-blue color of this dye.
The name of the plant can be traced back to the ancient Greek word Indikón, meaning “Indian,” as the plant is native to India. (It’s no coincidence that the British Royal Navy began using indigo dye extensively during the years that the British East India Company was gaining control over the Indian subcontinent.)
Indigo is currently the 906th most popular girl name in the nation.
The word sapphire refers to the blue variety of the mineral corundum. By extension, it also refers to the blue color of these crystals.
The name of the stone can be traced back to the ancient Greek word sappheiros, which is thought to have referred to lapis lazuli originally (not to sapphire as we know it today).
Sapphire is currently the 1,103rd most popular girl name in the U.S.
More names associated with blue
All the names below have an association with the color blue. The names range from traditional to unusual, and their associations range from strong to slight.
Those that have been popular enough to appear in the U.S. baby name data are linked to their corresponding popularity graphs.
Aciano is the Spanish word for cornflower (Centaurea cyanus), a species of plant with flowers that are usually blue.
Afina is a Romanian feminine name meaning “blueberry.”
Alice is part of “Alice blue” — a shade of blue named after Alice Roosevelt (the oldest daughter of U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt) in the mid-1910s. It was inspired by either the blue of Alice’s eyes or the blue of one of her dresses, sources disagree. The name Alice ultimately derives from the Germanic name Adalheidis, meaning “noble character” or “nobleness.”
Ao is a Japanese name that can mean “blue,” depending upon the kanji being used to write the name.
Aomi is a Japanese name that can include the element Ao.
Aori is another Japanese name that can include the element Ao.
Aqua is a greenish-blue color. The name of the shade comes from the Latin word aqua, meaning “water.”
Asuman is a Turkish feminine name meaning “sky.”
Azure is a sky-blue color. The name of the shade ultimately derives from the Persian word lazaward, which referred to lapis lazuli.
Bluebell flowers are blue. “Bluebell” is the common name of plants of various genera (including Hyacinthoides).
Bluebird is a type of bird with predominantly blue plumage. “Bluebird” is the common name of birds in the North American genus Sialia.
Bluejay is another type of bird with predominantly blue plumage. “Bluejay” is the common name of the bird species Cyanocitta cristata.
Caelum is the Latin word for “sky, heaven.” (Though it’s used as a name in modern-day America, it was simply a vocabulary word in ancient Rome.)
Cielo is a modern Spanish feminine name based on caelum.
Cerulean is a sky-blue color. The word may ultimately be derived from caelum.
Chicory flowers are typically blue. “Chicory” is the common name of the plant species Cichorium intybus.
Chóro is a Hopi name meaning “blue-bird.”
Chórzhoya is a Hopi name meaning “little blue-bird.”
Cobalt is a vivid shade of blue. Cobalt pigment was originally made from the metallic element cobalt.
Cyan is the greenish-blue color halfway between blue and green on the visible spectrum. The name of the shade comes from the ancient Greek word kyanos, meaning “dark blue.”
Darya (pronounced dar-YOH) is a Persian feminine name meaning “sea, ocean.”
Denim fabric is traditionally blue, as it was originally dyed with indigo. The name of the textile is derived from the French phrase serge de Nîmes, which referred to fabric produced in Nîmes, a town in southern France.
Deniz (pronounced deh-neez) is a Turkish gender-neutral name meaning “ocean.”
Fayruz is an Arabic feminine name meaning “turquoise (the stone).”
Gentian (pronounced jen-shun) flowers are often blue. According to Pliny, the genus Gentiana was named in honor of Illyrian king Gentius, who is said to have discovered the plant’s medicinal properties. The name Gentian is traditional in Albania, the territory of which was inhabited by Illyrian tribes during ancient times.
Gentiana is the modern Albanian feminine form of Gentian.
Glory (besides being a vocabulary word) is part of “morning glory” — the common name of flowering plants in the family Convolvulaceae. Morning glory flowers are sometimes blue.
Gökçe (pronounced gok-cheh) is a Turkish gender-neutral name meaning “sky blue.”
Haneul is a Korean gender-neutral name meaning “sky.”
Hyacinth flowers are sometimes blue. The genus Hyacinthus was named for the plant’s association with the myth of Hyacinthus (who was one of the lovers of Apollo in Greek mythology).
Jurate (pronounced YOO-rah-teh) is a Lithuanian feminine name based on the word jura, meaning “sea.”
Kekai is a Hawaiian gender-neutral name meaning “the sea.”
Kallfu is a Mapuche feminine name based on the word kallfü, meaning “blue.”
Kallfuray is a Mapuche feminine name meaning “blue flower.”
Kyanite is a mineral that is usually blue. The name of the mineral is based on the ancient Greek word kyanos, meaning “dark blue.”
Lafken is a Mapuche name meaning “sea, ocean.”
Larimar is a light blue variety of the mineral pectolite. Its name, coined in the 1970s, is a combination of Larissa (the name of the daughter of one of the stone’s discoverers) and mar, the Spanish word for “sea.”
Lazuli is part of “lapis lazuli” (pronounced LA-piss LA-zuh-lee) — the name of a deep-blue gemstone. The word lazuli can be traced back (via Latin lazulum and Persian lazaward) to the place-name Lajward — a region in central Asia where the stone was mined. (The Latin word lapis simply means “stone.”)
Livia (feminine) and Livio (masculine) are the modern Italian forms of the Roman family name Livius, which is thought to derive from the Latin word lividus, meaning “bluish.”
Lobelia (pronounced loh-BEEL-ee-uh) flowers are often blue. The genus Lobelia was named in honor of Flemish botanist Matthias de l’Obel.
Lupine flowers are sometimes blue. The genus name Lupinus is derived from the Latin word lupinus, meaning “wolfish” (from lupus, “wolf”).
Mayim is the Hebrew word for “water.” (Though it’s used as a name among English speakers, it’s simply a vocabulary word among Hebrew speakers.)
Maya is a Hebrew feminine name based on mayim. It also happens to be a Zuni word meaning “crested blue-jay.”
Mira (also spelled Meera) is a Hindi feminine name based on the Sanskrit word mira, meaning “sea, ocean.”
Moana is a gender-neutral name meaning “ocean” in Hawaiian, Maori, Samoan, Tongan, and other Polynesian languages.
Myosotis (pronounced my-oh-SOH-tiss) flowers are frequently blue. The genus name Myosotis, meaning “mouse’s ear” in Latin, refers to the shape of the petals.
Sagar is a Hindi masculine name meaning “sea, ocean.”
Shyam is a Hindi masculine name based on the Sanskrit word shyama, meaning “dark blue”.
Sini is a Finnish feminine name meaning “blue.”
Sora is a Japanese gender-neutral name meaning “sky.”
Sunil is a Hindi masculine name derived from the Sanskrit word sunila, meaning “very blue.”
Tchelet is a Hebrew feminine name meaning “sky blue.”
True (besides being a vocabulary word) is part of “true blue” — an expression that means “loyal, faithful.” The association between the color blue and the idea of loyalty or constancy may been inspired by the unchanging blue of the sky.
Turquoise (pronounced TUR-koyz) is a mineral that is typically greenish-blue. The name of the stone can be traced back to the Old French term pierre tourques, meaning “Turkish stone.” Though it was mined in Persia, the stone was introduced to Europe in the 13th century by Turkish traders.
Umi is a Japanese feminine name that can mean “sea,” depending upon the kanji being used to write the name.
Umiko is a Japanese name that can include the element Umi.
When a major celebrity chooses an uncommon baby name, there’s a good chance that name will become trendy.
Seems like this might be a modern phenomenon, right? Maybe tied to the rise of the Internet?
Nope. In fact, I bet you’ll be surprised at just how far back it goes.
Let’s take a look at celebrity baby names through the decades, focusing on those that inspired debuts in the U.S. baby name data. (To debut, a rare names needs to be given to at least 5 babies of one gender or the other in a single year.)
Which name was the very first to debut in the U.S. baby name data thanks to a celebrity baby?
The answer depends on how strict you want to be about spelling.
If exact-spelling debuts are what you want, the first I know of doesn’t appear until the late ’40s.
If variant-spelling debuts are okay, though, there’s a celebrity baby name from the early ’40s that inspired a whopping six of them:
In October of 1941, actor/comedian George Jessel (43 years old) and showgirl Lois Andrews (17) welcomed a baby girl named Jerilyn.
The name Jerilyn itself had already been in the data for a few years, but usage rose significantly in both 1941 and 1942:
1943: 182 baby girls named Jerilyn [rank: 558th]
1942: 325 baby girls named Jerilyn [rank: 397th]
1941: 135 baby girls named Jerilyn [rank: 608th]
1940: 10 baby girls named Jerilyn
The popularity of similar names like Jerrilyn and Jerelyn also increased, and six other variants appeared on the national list for the very first time in either 1941 or 1942:
I was skeptical about this one for a while, as I’d never heard of George Jessel before. Was he really high-profile enough for his baby to have that sort influence? Turns out he was indeed a popular entertainer from the ’20s until at least the ’50s. He’s the one responsible for the “Garland” part of Judy Garland’s stage name, and some sources even claim he invented the Bloody Mary.
Even more variants of Jerilyn (e.g., Gerilynn) debuted during the ’40s and early ’50s, when young Jerilyn was being mentioned in newspaper articles and appearing on TV and in films with her father. Here’s a fundraising film from 1953, for instance, featuring both George and Jerilyn.
Jerilyn Jessel’s influence on U.S baby names was impressive, but, technically speaking, she didn’t put “Jerilyn” on the map.
The first exact-spelling celebrity baby name debut was Yasmin, which appeared in the data in 1949.
In December of 1949, actor Rita Hayworth and her husband Prince Aly Khan welcomed a baby girl named Yasmin. The same year, the baby name Yasmin appeared in the U.S. data for the very first time.
(The name Yasmin was late addition to the post. Thank you, Becca!)
At least four of the baby names that debuted during the 1950s were inspired by celebrity babies:
In October of 1951, actors Tyrone Power and Linda Christian welcomed their first baby, Romina, who was named after the church in Italy (Santa Francesca Romana) where they had married in 1949. The same year, the baby name Romina appeared in the SSA’s data for the very first time.
In September of 1953, Power and Christian welcomed their second baby girl, Taryn, whose name was likely inspired by “Tyrone.” The same year, the baby name Taryn debuted in the data.
In November of 1956, boxer Floyd Patterson and his wife Sandra welcomed a baby girl named Seneca. The same year, the traditionally male name Seneca debuted in the data as a female name. Patterson said the name was inspired by a street in Brooklyn.
In October of 1958, singer/actor Rosemary Clooney and actor José Ferrer welcomed a baby girl named Monsita — their fourth child. The same year, Monsita debuted. It fell off the list the very next year, though, making it a one-hit wonder.
Some honorable mentions from the 1950s:
Liza, which became more popular after Liz Taylor named her daughter Liza in 1957.
Tyrone, which became more popular after Tyrone Power named his third child Tyrone in 1959. The increased usage could also have been influenced by the death of the actor himself the same year, though.
At least four of the baby names that debuted during the 1960s were inspired by celebrity babies:
In September of 1961, singer of Nat King Cole and his wife Maria welcomed identical twin baby girls named Timolin and Casey. The same year, the baby name Timolin debuted in the data.
In September of 1965, actor/director John Cassavetes and actress Gena Rowlands welcomed a baby girl named Alexandra “Xan” Cassavetes. The same year, the baby name Xan debuted in the data.
In October of 1967, singer Eddie Fisher and actress Connie Stevens welcomed a baby girl named Joely. The same year, the baby name Joely debuted in the data.
In June of 1968, boxer Muhammad Ali and his wife Belinda welcomed a baby girl named Maryum. The same year, the baby name Maryum debuted in the data.
In March of 1969, singers Cher and Sonny Bono, welcomed a baby girl named Chastity. The same year, the baby name Chastity debuted in the data. In May of 2010, Chastity legally changed genders and adopted the name Chaz.
Some honorable mentions from the 1960s:
Devera, which became more popular after actor Vince Edwards and his wife Kathy named their daughter Devera in late 1965.
Dodd, which became more popular after Bobby Darin and Sandra Dee named their son Dodd in late 1961.
At least eight of the baby names that debuted during the 1970s were inspired by celebrity babies:
In August of 1970, boxer Muhammad Ali and his wife Belinda welcomed twin baby girls named Rasheda and Jamillah. The same year, the baby name Rasheda debuted in the data.
(Both Jet magazine (in 1970) and Ebony magazine (in 1971) misspelled her name “Reeshemah.” The misspelling debuted in 1970 and saw peak usage in 1971.)
In 1971, comedian/activist Dick Gregory and his wife Lillian welcomed a baby girl named Ayanna. The same year, the baby name Ayanna debuted in the data.
In July of 1973, Dick Gregory and Lillian welcomed a baby boy named Yohance. The same year, the baby name Yohance debuted in the data.
In March of 1974, musician/producer Quincy Jones and actress Peggy Lipton welcomed a baby girl named Kidada. The same year, the baby name Kidada debuted in the data.
In August of 1975, singer Tito Jackson (of The Jackson 5) and his wife Dee Dee welcomed a baby boy named Taryll. The same year, the baby name Taryll debuted in the data.
In April of 1975, singer Mary Wilson (of The Supremes) and her husband Pedro welcomed a baby girl named Turkessa. The same year, the baby name Turkessa debuted in the data. Turkessa was just 3 babies away from being the top baby name debut of the year. Here’s how Mary came up with the name:
Pedro brought me a beautiful plant. I asked him was it was called. “Turquesa,” he replied, “Spanish for turquoise.” So we named our daughter Turkessa.
In November of 1975, singer Diana Ross (also of The Supremes) and her husband Robert welcomed a baby girl named Chudney. The next year, the baby name Chudney debuted in the data. Here’s how Diana came up with the name:
Friends kept suggesting popular names like Courtney, but so many girl babies were getting that. I suddenly thought of something I liked very much — chutney. Only I didn’t know how to spell it — I put a ‘d’ where the ‘t’ should have been on the birth certificate. And that’s how my little girl became Chudney!
In 1978, Puerto Rican dancer/singer Iris Chacón and her husband Junno welcomed a baby girl named Katiria. The same year, the baby name Katiria debuted in the data. Most of these babies were born in New York.
At least three of the baby names that debuted during the 1980s were inspired by celebrity babies, and at least one was inspired by a celebrity grandbaby:
In September of 1984, singer Gladys Knight didn’t have a baby, but her son James (b. 1962) and his wife Michelene did. They welcomed a boy named Rishawn. The next year, the baby name Rishawn debuted in the data. It was one of the top debut names of 1985, in fact.
In November of 1986, football player Willie Gault and his wife Dainnese welcomed a baby girl named Shakari. The next year, the baby name Shakari debuted in the data.
I wrote about Condola a few months ago, but here’s a recap: In December of 1986, actress Phylicia Rashad and sportscaster Ahmad Rashad welcomed a baby girl named Condola. The next year, the baby name Condola debuted in the data.
In December of 1987, filmmaker/actor Woody Allen and actress Mia Farrow welcomed a baby boy named Satchel. The next year, the baby name Satchel debuted in the data. He now goes by Ronan, and rumor has it that he is *possibly* the biological son of Frank Sinatra.
Kady, which became more popular after Pia Zadora named her daughter Kady in early 1985.
At least three of the baby names the debuted during the 1990s were inspired by celebrity babies:
In July of 1991, actors Demi Moore and Bruce Willis welcomed a baby girl named Scout. (And in August, that famous image of 7-months-pregnant Demi ran on the cover of Vanity Fair.) The next year, the baby name Scout debuted in the data, for both genders.
In February of 1995, actor Michael J. Fox and his wife Tracy welcomed twin baby girls named Aquinnah and Schuyler. The same year, the baby name Aquinnah debuted in the data. (I wrote more about the name Aquinnah a few years ago.)
In July of 1998, model Christie Brinkley and her husband Peter welcomed a baby girl named Sailor. The same year, the baby name Sailor debuted in the data as a girl name. It had debuted as a boy name the year before.
Some honorable mentions from the 1990s:
Ireland, which became more popular after Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger named their daughter Ireland in 1995.