From a recent Anaheim Ducks video-tweet in which former football player Troy Aikman addressed his namesake, hockey player Troy Terry (b. 1997):
How cool are we to have the name Troy, first of all. Now I know why your parents named you Troy, so it makes me feel really proud. But what makes me feel even prouder is the fact that the Ducks organization has given me the honor to let you know that, for the second consecutive year, you my friend are an NHL All-Star.
“A name for me is a shortcut, it’s an efficient way of working out what class that child comes from. Do I want my children to play with them?”
“I tend to think children that have intelligent names tend to have fairly intelligent parents and they make much better play dates, therefore, for my children.”
“I don’t judge people on their surnames but certainly I do make a very quick decision based on their first names and there’s a whole bunch of first names that I don’t like. I don’t like footballers’ names, I don’t like names after seasons of the year, I don’t like geographical location names, celebrity names, things like Apple.”
(Ironically, one of Katie’s three children is named India.)
Born on a farm on Sept. 18, 1828, in Norway, New York, Algernon Sidney Coe defied all expectations to become a respected and admired physician in Oswego City.
Coe, the son of Ira Coe, a War of 1812 veteran, and Elizabeth Norton, was named after Algernon Sidney who was executed in 1683 in England for his outspoken views on freedom of speech. Sidney was considered a martyr by American thinkers such as Thomas Jefferson and John Adams.
There’s buzz about Beers at FIU [Florida International University].
The buzz started when Panthers coach Mike MacIntyre announced on Dec. 21 that FIU had signed the player with “the best name in college football.”
That would be 6-5, 225-pound tight end and Colorado native Rowdy Beers, who is from Littleton, which is nine miles south. of downtown Denver.
“As a kid,” Beers said, “any time I told my name to a new authority figure, they thought I was being disrespectful.”
Beers, who was named after three-time Olympic gold-medalist swimmer Rowdy Gaines, had right shoulder surgery on Dec. 29 but is expected to be ready by mid-May.
(Rowdy Beers also has three R-named siblings: Rocky, Raegan, and Rylie. Rowdy Gaines, however, is only nicknamed “Rowdy.” He was born Ambrose Gaines IV in 1959 — the year the baby name Rowdy debuted in the U.S. baby name data thanks to Rawhide.)
Our band’s namesake, Mr. Marshall Tucker, passed away peacefully yesterday morning at the age of 99. Though he was never a member of our band, we wouldn’t be here today without his historic name. In the early days when we were rehearsing in an old warehouse in Spartanburg, we found a keychain inscribed with his name. We needed a name asap… and the rest is history! Marshall was blind since birth but amazingly could play the heck out of the piano. He always said his talent was simply God-given. He tuned pianos in South Carolina for decades.
(The story behind Super Mario’s name, in Name quotes #111, also happens to involve a warehouse.)
Amongst the many topics discussed when Kendrick Lamar strolled through Arsenio Hall’s reinvented television series, the Compton rapper revealed that he’s named after one of the members of the iconic Motown group, the Temptations. While gushing over old school music, K Dot unveiled that his mother named him after Eddie Kendricks, the group’s distinctive falsetto singer.
For more quotes about names, check out the name quotes category.
Looking for baby names that work for both genders?
Actually, let me rephrase that: Do you want to see which names are being given to sizeable numbers of baby boys and baby girls in the U.S. right now?
I wanted to ask the question in a more specific way because I think the details matter. Names can be gender-neutral in theory, but that doesn’t mean they’re being given to babies of both genders in practice.
Gender identity is a big topic of conversation these days, so it’s not surprising that an ever-growing number of parents are searching for baby names that aren’t strongly associated with one gender or the other.
To know what’s happening with baby names in real life, though, we need to focus on the data. That’s why I didn’t consider anything but data when I created the list below.
These names were culled from the 2021 U.S. baby name data (provided by the U.S. Social Security Administration). Each one saw usage that was at least one-third female and at least one-third male, making all of them relatively gender-neutral among today’s newborns.
Top gender-neutral baby names
Let’s start with a quick rundown of the 20 most popular gender-neutral baby names in the U.S. right now:
Now here’s the same list again, but this time around I’ve added more information: data, rankings, popularity graphs, and definitions.
Last year, the name Parker was given to 6,229 babies. Of these babies, 2,406 (38.63%) were girls and 3,823 (61.37%) were boys.
In terms of rankings, Parker placed 115th for girls and 93rd for boys.
Parker is an English surname that originally referred to someone who was employed as the keeper of a hunting park.
Last year, the name River was given to 5,317 babies. Of these babies, 1,862 (35.02%) were girls and 3,455 (64.98%) were boys.
In terms of rankings, River placed 151st for girls and 110th for boys.
River, the English word that refers to a flowing body of water, was derived from the Latin word ripa, meaning “riverbank” or “seashore.”
Last year, the name Charlie was given to 4,190 babies. Of these babies, 2,202 (52.55%) were girls and 1,988 (47.45%) were boys.
In terms of rankings, Charlie placed 127th for girls and 189th for boys.
Charlie is a diminutive of the male name Charles, which ultimately comes from the Germanic name Karl, which meant “freeman” (i.e., not a serf or slave).
Interestingly, Charlie is a top-10 name for boys in some regions (like New Zealand and Ireland) and a top-10 name for girls in others (like Quebec).
Last year, the name Blake was given to 3,337 babies. Of these babies, 1,497 (44.86%) were girls and 1,840 (55.14%) were boys.
In terms of rankings, Blake placed 199th for girls and 205th for boys.
Blake is an English surname that can be traced back to either of two Old English words that happen to have opposite meanings — one being “black,” the other being “white.”
Last year, the name Hayden was given to 3,283 babies. Of these babies, 1,096 (33.38%) were girls and 2,187 (66.62%) were boys.
In terms of rankings, Hayden placed 290th for girls and 176th for boys.
Hayden is an English surname that originally referred to someone from one of several different like-named locations. In many cases, the place names were made up of elements meaning “hay” and “hill.” (Depending upon the location, though, the first element sometimes meant “fence enclosure,” and the second element sometimes meant “valley.”)
Last year, the name Emerson was given to 2,952 babies. Of these babies, 1,729 (58.57%) were girls and 1,223 (41.43%) were boys.
In terms of rankings, Emerson placed 167th for girls and 279th for boys.
Emerson is an English surname that originally referred to the son of someone named Emery.
Last year, the name Amari was given to 2,880 babies. Of these babies, 972 (33.75%) were girls and 1,908 (66.25%) were boys.
In terms of rankings, Amari placed 333rd for girls and 199th for boys.
Amari is a modern name that doesn’t seem to have a specific origin or meaning.
Last year, the name Finley was given to 2,705 babies. Of these babies, 1,407 (52.01%) were girls and 1,298 (47.99%) were boys.
In terms of rankings, Finley placed 211th for girls and 265th for boys.
Finley is based on the Gaelic name Fionnlagh, which is made up of elements meaning “white” and “warrior.”
Last year, the name Remington was given to 2,475 babies. Of these babies, 890 (35.96%) were girls and 1,585 (64.04%) were boys.
In terms of rankings, Remington placed 348th for girls and 231st for boys.
Remington is an English surname that originally referred to someone from the town of Rimington, in Lancashire. (It’s also an American gun brand.)
Last year, the name Phoenix was given to 2,454 babies. Of these babies, 1,032 (42.05%) were girls and 1,422 (57.95%) were boys.
In terms of rankings, Phoenix placed 308th for girls and 248th for boys.
Phoenix, the word that refers the mythological bird that rises from its own ashes, was derived from an ancient Greek word meaning “crimson” or “purple.”
Last year, the name Oakley was given to 2,292 babies. Of these babies, 1,524 (66.49%) were girls and 768 (33.51%) were boys.
In terms of rankings, Oakley placed 193rd for girls and 403rd for boys.
Oakley is an English surname that originally referred to someone from one of several different like-named locations. In all cases, the place names were made up of elements meaning “oak” and “clearing.”
Last year, the name Dakota was given to 2,090 babies. Of these babies, 1,147 (54.88%) were girls and 943 (45.12%) were boys.
In terms of rankings, Dakota placed 270th for girls and 344th for boys.
Dakota, the name of a Native American tribe, means “friendly” or “allied” in the Siouan language of the Dakota people.
Last year, the name Tatum was given to 1,959 babies. Of these babies, 1,125 (57.43%) were girls and 834 (42.57%) were boys.
In terms of rankings, Tatum placed 279th for girls and 385th for boys.
Tatum is an English surname that originally referred to the homestead of someone named Tata.
Last year, the name Rory was given to 1,919 babies. Of these babies, 789 (41.12%) were girls and 1,130 (58.88%) were boys.
In terms of rankings, Rory placed 396th for girls and 295th for boys.
Rory is an Anglicized form of the Irish name Ruaidhri, which is made up of elements meaning “red” and “king.”
Last year, the name Ari was given to 1,598 babies. Of these babies, 649 (40.61%) were girls and 949 (59.39%) were boys.
In terms of rankings, Ari placed 478th for girls and 342nd for boys.
Ari has several potential definitions, including: “lion” in Hebrew, “brave” in Armenian, and “eagle” in Icelandic.
Last year, the name Alexis was given to 1,569 babies. Of these babies, 940 (59.91%) were girls and 629 (40.09%) were boys.
In terms of rankings, Alexis placed 341st for girls and 472nd for boys.
Alexis comes directly from the ancient Greek (male) name Alexis, which meant “helper” or “defender.”
Last year, the name Armani was given to 1,540 babies. Of these babies, 661 (42.92%) were girls and 879 (57.08%) were boys.
In terms of rankings, Armani placed 469th for girls and 369th for boys.
Armani is an Italian surname that originally referred to the child of someone named Armano. (It’s also an Italian fashion brand.)
Last year, the name Remy was given to 1,451 babies. Of these babies, 550 (37.90%) were girls and 901 (62.10%) were boys.
In terms of rankings, Remy placed 550th for girls and 357th for boys.
Remy, written Rémy in French, is based on the Latin name Remigius, which meant “oarsman.”
It’s interesting that both Remy and Remington are on this list. Remy is a standalone name…but it could also be used as a nickname for Remington.
Last year, the name Reign was given to 1,338 babies. Of these babies, 884 (66.07%) were girls and 454 (33.93%) were boys.
In terms of rankings, Reign placed 349th for girls and 608th for boys.
Reign is an English word that can be traced back to the Latin word regnum, meaning “royal power” or “kingdom.”
Last year, the name Milan was given to 1,278 babies. Of these babies, 452 (35.37%) were girls and 826 (64.63%) were boys.
In terms of rankings, Milan placed 655th for girls and 388th for boys.
Milan is a Slavic name based on the element milu, meaning “dear, sweet.” (It’s also a city in northern Italy.)
More gender-neutral baby names
What other gender-neutral names made the cut?
Here are the names that were used a bit less often than the twenty above…
Number of babies*
*Male and female usage added together
All of the above ranked among both the top 1,000 girl names and the top 1,000 boy names last year. Two of the below (Robin and Landry) did as well.
Number of babies*
*Male and female usage added together
Most of the above appeared in at least one top-1,000 list last year. The exceptions were Kacey, Campbell, True, Arden, Shea, and Sol.
None of the names from this point onward reached the top 1,000 for either gender.
Number of babies*
*Male and female usage added together
Here are the gender-neutral baby names that saw overall usage ranging from 100 to 199 babies (in descending order):
Most of the names above don’t have a long history of usage in the U.S., so they aren’t anchored one gender or the other — making them good options for expectant parents who want names that work for both genders.
Note that many fall into a handful of categories, including: nature names, place names, surnames, color names, and virtue names. It may be worthwhile to focus on categories like these as you continue your search, as they’ll tend to naturally contain a good proportion of gender-neutral names.
If you’d like to see popularity graphs for any of the names in this post, check below for the long list of tags. Each tag is a name, so just find the name you’re interested in and click through. The graph will need a moment to load — it’s grabbing a lot of data — but it will allow you to see at a glance the name’s current gender-balance (and make an informed guess about its near-future gender-balance, given the current trajectories).
Back when sea voyages were the only way to reach distant lands, many babies ended up being born aboard ships. And many of these ship-born babies were given names that reflected the circumstances of their birth. A good portion of them, for instance, were named after the ships upon which they were born.
I’ve gathered hundreds of these ship-inspired baby names over the years, and I think it’s finally time to post what I’ve found…
Emma Abergeldie Walsh, born in 1884
Eva Abernyte Congdon, born in 1875
Herbert Bealie Abington Tait, born in 1884
Abyssinia Louise Juhansen, born in 1870
Abyssinia Elfkin, born in 1872
Louise Abyssinia Bellanger, born in 1874
John Achilles Denchey, born in 1871
U. Actoea Jones, born in 1868
John Adriatic Gateley Collins, born in 1879
Adriatic O’Loghlin Gould, born in 1880
Agnes Adriatic Cook, born in 1880
Frederick Agamemnon Dingly, born in 1876
Mary Alaska Magee, born in 1884
Gertrude Alcester Dart, born in 1884
Mary Duncan Alcinosa Greenwood, born in 1887
Aldergrove Andrew Fullarton Feathers, born in 1875
He in turn gave his name to Medford, Minnesota, in the 1850s. His father, Englishman William K. Colling, was an early Minnesota settler who “said that he had a son who was born on board the ship Medford, and was named Medford, in honor of the ship, and proposed that the town should be named Medford in honor of the boy.”
In 2020, the Wyoming Medical Center in Casper welcomed 892 babies. The names of about 620 of these babies were shared online via the hospital’s website. A few days ago, the hospital “mined those announcements for our most popular names list for 2020,” finding that the most frequently occurring names for girls was Paisley and for boys was Jackson.
I don’t usually post rankings from non-governmental sources, but, in this case, there were just so many names in comparison to the size of the city (about 58,000 residents) that I decided to go ahead and publish the full list…