In Search of Truly Androgynous Baby Names

Jul 21st 2011

Are there truly androgynous names? Names that divide so evenly between the sexes that they give you no hint whether the baby is a boy or girl? There are, but fewer than you might think.

Here are the names given to 500 or more total babies last year that had the most even sex ratios. (The numbers listed are percentage females minus percentage males, so that a perfectly unisex name would come out as 0% and a name with a 45/55 F/M distribution would be -10.)

Name F%-M%
Dakota 0.5
Jessie 1.5
Quinn 1.8
Justice -3.7
Dominique 7.7
Rory -10.5
Jaylin 13.5
Jaidyn 18.6
Casey -18.6
Amari -20.3
Riley 20.9
Rowan -22
Emerson 22.8
Armani -23
Harley 24.2

As you see, only 5 names have a gap < 10%, but all of the names on the list could be considered "unguessably androgynous."

What does an even sex ratio mean for these names long-term? Are they really in a stable unisex balance, or are we just looking at a list of names in mid-transition, changing from one sex to the other? In generations past, an even ratio would have been a sign that a boy's name was heading toward the girl's side, never to return.

For a peek into the likely future, let's take a look at the recent past. Below are the most unisex names from 10 years prior, with their female/male percentages then and now.

 
Name F-M 2000 F-M 2010  
Peyton -0.8 +30.6  
Devyn +0.9 +8.1  
Jaiden -2.0 +18.6  
Armani +4.3 -23.0  
Skyler -6.8 -35.1  
Casey -9.1 -18.6  
Payton +13.1 +60.5  
Avery +14.4 +59.5  
Riley -14.5 +20.9  
Jessie +14.8 +1.5  
Justice -15.8 -3.7  
Harley +17.1 +24.2  
Sage +17.3 +41.5  
Ashton -20.4 -89.4  
Amari +33.3 -20.3  

A handful of names actually repeat from the 2000 list to 2010, showing stable unisex balance. But other names have tilted significantly, and now favor one sex by as much as a 20:1 ratio. Notably, there's little pattern to the direction of the tilts. A balanced name seems as likely to move toward the male side as the female.

If you like true androgyny in a name, the good news is that it does seem possible to maintain it. The bad news is that any given name's path is maddeningly unpredictable. Surnames, word names, creative spellings; all have examples moving in all directions. Some of the biggest moves -- Ashton shifting masculine, Dakota moving from the male column to top this year's unisex list -- were driven by celebrities. Yet despite a prominent male Peyton, football star Peyton Manning, both spellings of Peyton tilted toward the feminine.

The upshot: when you choose an androgynous name, you should choose it with the understanding that by the time your child is an adult, the name could fall anywhere on the masculine/feminine spectrum.

Comments

1
July 21, 2011 2:06 PM

Stats guru and New York Times blogger Nate Silver created a quiz a while ago that asks you to identify all baby names given to at least 10,000 boys and 10,000 girls since 1960. Not sure if he's updated it to include 2009 or 2010 data, but it's kind of fun: http://www.sporcle.com/games/nrsilver/babynames

2
By KristinW (not verified)
July 21, 2011 3:08 PM

Interesting data! This is one reason I don't particularly care for unisex names (for my own child anyway). I used to know a little boy named Morgan, who was 4 years old, and his mother regretted naming him that because it was already tipping strongly toward "girl." I don't think there's anything wrong with a girl-leaning name on a boy, or vice versa. I just see it as a surprise I wouldn't want a few years down the road. You choose your child's name so carefully, with the perfect balance of everything you want for them, and then a few years down the road, the connotations of that name have changed completely. Of course, that can happen other ways - if a celebrity or serial killer with your child's name pops up on the scene, or your child's name grows wildly popular.

3
By Keren not signed in (not verified)
July 21, 2011 3:18 PM

From a British point of view, the idea of Rory being a girls' name seems utterly weird - but then I feel the same about Cameron.

4
By Keren not signed in (not verified)
July 21, 2011 3:19 PM

Oh and Jessie would only be a girls' name in the UK - Jesse for a boy.

5
By Rebecca McCormick (not verified)
July 21, 2011 4:17 PM

And Ashley over here in the UK is nearly always male.

6
By Yet Another Guest (not verified)
July 21, 2011 4:29 PM

This is fascinating! It's interesting to see what a huge leap some of these names made in just one decade.

I was surprised that there were so few androgynous names. Do you think there are more in the under 500 group?

Speaking of androgynous names, my sweet five year old son loves to play with the NameVoyager and "discovered" the name Robin. He thinks we should name the baby that, girl or boyl. Was never a name I'd consider, and I'm not for letting the kids name the baby, but it is growing on me.

7
By MW (not verified)
July 21, 2011 4:39 PM

I love this post! So interesting. I'm really surprised about Rowan. I thought that had really "gone to the girls." And surprised that Quinn is so gender neutral. Would have thought that with both Glee and One Tree Hill having girl characters with that name, it would have really taken off.

I'm curious about Jessie, because of the spelling. If I saw someone named Jessie, I would absolutely assume girl, because that's the most common spelling for the nickname of a girl named Jessica.

If I saw Jesse, I would absolutely assume boy.

Is it possible that Jessie appears unisex because it's an unpopular choice? Like, most boys would have been named Jesse, so for that, the spelling is off. And most girls would have been called Jessica, with the nickname Jessie, so that the nickname is the given name is off?

Any thoughts, Laura?

8
By Indigomouse (not verified)
July 21, 2011 5:08 PM

Seems like there's a lot more androgynous nicknames out there, rather than proper names. Examples:
Sam
Terry
Jess
Nick
Britt
Mike
Jules
etc.

Seems like a good way to go, since that way the child can decide later if they want to be androgynous or gendered with their name.

9
By Lysis (not logged in) (not verified)
July 21, 2011 5:24 PM

I'm very suprised about Dakota, I thought that was a completely female-dominated name.

I like your point at the end. Rowan tops our list as a future boys name, and I always keep an eye on the ratio of boys v. girls when the stats come out each year. But, regardless of where it heads on the f/m charts, I love the name and I love the reasons why it is meaningful to our family. That trumps the caprice of naming fashion.

10
July 21, 2011 9:45 PM

This post is very relevant to me, as my daughter's name is Noa and we're in the middle of choosing a name for our soon to be born son, due in about 6 weeks. I find myself drawn to unisex names, and for our son what we're leaning toward is Micah, which to us is clearly a male name (especially with the spelling), but when saying our two kids' names out loud it won't always be clear what sex our children are. We're also considering Jesse (although I can't imagine spelling it Jessie for a boy).

Meanwhile, we'd love some help with middle names. We're probably set on Micah as it's after a close friend Michael who passed away a couple of years ago. But we're stuck on a middle name, partly because I like to have some reason or inspiration for choosing one. The middle name doesn't have to be after the same friend. Our daughter's middle name is Bay, which we love (it's after an aunt and a grandmother on the other side whose favorite place in the world was Cowpet Bay in St. Thomas).

Here is a list we're considering:

Micah Zev
Micah Jesse
Micah Bar (means Grain)
Micah Bear or Ber (Yiddish for bear)
Micah Wren
Micah Jude
Micah Lev
Micah Teo

We clearly like nature names, but would love some other ideas. For brainstorming, some other inspirations are the San Francisco Bay area, and Marin county, where our friend was from and where we both love. My maiden name is loosely translated as Good Page in English (it's a germanic name), so that could be fun to play with somehow. Also, we both love food (my husband writes about it), so spice names, or some other food inspired name would be fun but hard to come up with for a boy in a way that doesn't seem forced.

Also considering Jesse Micah, but very close friends of ours have a son named Jesse our daughter's age, and somehow that seems weird, although we were thinking of talking to them about it to see how they would feel about our using the same name. Jesse would probably be after another friend of my husband's who died 8 or 9 years ago. His first name started with a J, and he was old childhood friends with Michael, also from Marin. Very, very tragic.

By the way, our last name is Jewish and means Gold Stone if you catch my drift.

Thanks in advance for anyone who has the time to help us brainstorm!

11
July 21, 2011 10:06 PM

MinkaRachel

I like Mikah Lev for you. I'm really fond of the name Lev, though, so I guess I'm partial.

I've been playing with our name options and thought that Ursula and Imogen would be a really good sib set. Thinking DH might warm up to Imogen. Mentioned it to him, and he insisted that Imogen would need to have a nn. (He really wants to call Ursula "Ulli", but I'm working hard to get him to agree to Ulla instead.) What's surprising is that I picked Ursula partly BECAUSE it's a more difficult name to find a nn for, since I hated my nn when I was younger and prefer to choose names that don't get shortened too easily. Now he's insisting that Imogen is a problematic name because it's NOT easy to shorten. Hmmph.

Then he tried to tell me that Moe was a good nickname for Imogen. Umm...

In case Ursula Sabine is too "s" heavy, what about Ursula Camille as an option?

And what do you think of Imogen Simone? (since I probably won't get to use Simon)

I just don't know about the whole nn thing.

12
By Beth the original (not verified)
July 21, 2011 10:26 PM

Is Dominique a boy's name only in Latino cultures? Or French? I have a hard time imagining Anglo-American families naming a boy that, just because Monique and Angelique and so on seem so clearly female.

I refuse to acknowledge Emerson as a female name, sorry. It might be a cute college nickname for someone named Emily, but I just can't take the female -son names.

I like Micah Jude, myself! Doesn't Jude go both ways?

13
By PJ
July 21, 2011 10:35 PM

I knew a girl in college who was named Genie. It took me the longest time to learn that her full name was Imogen.

I am also surprised about Quinn since I have meet several little girl Quinns.

Some of those names if I read on paper I would have a gender assumption, but Casey reads completely unisex to me.

My gut response is
girls:
Dakota (the young actress), Jessie (the ie),Quinn (kids I've met), Dominique, Riley (young girls and old men), Rowan, Emmerson (I've only ever heard of this b.c of that actress's daughter), Harley

boys:

Justice (the brother to Hope or Faith?), Rory ( feels very masculine to me),
Jaylin,Jaidyn, Amari, Amani

14
By ozy
July 21, 2011 10:52 PM

There are a lot of good nick names for Imogen. I hadn't thought of Genie, which is cute. There is also Idgie (nn for character in Fried Green Tomatoes who was an Imogen), Iggy, Gen or Genny.

15
By alr as guest (not verified)
July 21, 2011 11:03 PM

I was reading through this with DH (rare, but he decided to humor me tonight) ;) and when I got to Amari I said I'd never heard the name. My husband told me about the basketball player and the switch from female to male suddenly became very clear. I always knew athletes had great power over our country's naming habits, but this really made that sink in for me. To continue to trend further male or further female is one thing, but to completely switch from +33 to a -20 (especially when trends typically move female to male, not vice versa) is a big feat!

Am I missing something else on this name, or was that trend all basketball?

16
By Jane 6 (not verified)
July 22, 2011 12:54 AM

I always think of Rory as a girls' name, ever since Gilmore Girls. Casey, to me, is a girls' name, too.

I wonder... even if, say, the name Avery has recently shifted more decisively into girl name territory, that doesn't mean it will start to automatically ring "girl" to people. After all, there may still be more men than women named Avery, even if there are more baby girls than baby boys with the name, right? The shift in gender perception would significantly lag the actual shift in use from one gender to another for this reason, right?

MinkaRachel:
Micah Zev - Nice, but maybe runs together a bit?
Micah Jesse - Jesse seems a bit dated to me, but still basically a handsome name
Micah Bar - Nice
Micah Bear - This is really great. Bear is a masculine middle name that balances out the soft ending sound of Micah. Plus it's cute on a baby for its resemblance to Edward Bear, ie, Winnie the Pooh.
Micah Wren - I would not use this. Wren to me is completely a girls' name.
Micah Jude - Personally don't care for Jude, but I know many like it and it is trendy. Do you want trendy?
Micah Lev - My second favorite. Very nice sounds that compliment each other without running together.
Micah Teo - Again, these a little run together. Sounds a bit like an Italian name: Micatio or something.

Penny X:
I really like Imogen Simone. A lot. Like swooning, a lot. And am I crazy, I also kind of like Moe as a nickname.

17
By Alli (not verified)
July 22, 2011 1:23 AM

Penny X:
I actually think Mo/Moe is a really cute nickname for Imogen. Maybe it's because that's what my mom called me when I was a little kid (not sure why- it doesn't resemble my name at all).

alr- The basketball player is actually Amare.

Minka Rachel- I like Micah Lev and Micah Wren the best. I actually like Wren better without the "W," which is how its usually translated from Japanese. Ren in Japanese means lotus flower, and I'm pretty sure it's a primarily masculine name. I'm not a fan of Micah Bear. Sounds too "cutesy" to me. Might be sweet on a little kid, but I don't think it holds up well as the kid ages.

Jane 6- I thought of Gilmore Girls right away when I saw Rory on the list! :)

18
By Guest Em (not verified)
July 22, 2011 2:46 AM

In pop culture I definitely associate Rory with the female character from Gilmore Girls, but I remember that it was a nickname for Lorelei. In the show, there were 3 Loreleis: Rory, her mom, Lorelei, and Lorelei's grandmother, also Lorelei.

Despite that, I like Rory best for boys. Also Casey and Avery. The y at the end of names doesn't sound feminine to me.

19
July 22, 2011 3:11 AM

"Is Dominique a boy's name only in Latino cultures? Or French?"

Dominique is both masculine and feminine in French, as is Patrice. The Spanish form is Domingo.

MinkaRachel--

It looks like you are open to modern Israeli names. Some possibles with their meanings:
Alon (oak), Ilan (tree), Amir (grain, treetop), Ari (lion), Ayal (deer), Dov (bear, often as a double name: Dov-Ber), Einav (grape), Gal (wave), Gil (Joy), Omer/Omri (sheaf of grain, as in counting the omer), Paz (gold), Rimon (pomegranate), Tom (perfection), Tal (dew), Oren (pine tree--I don't think Hebrew has a word for redwood, sequoia).

I like both Lev (heart) and Zev (wolf). In fact I like just plain Wolf which was my grandfather's name, Meyer Wolf. One food unisex name is Sage which has the benefit of also meaning wise, wise person. Another herb name is Basil, which also means king. Am I right in guessing that the 'page' part of your maiden name is -blatt? If so, blatt means leaf, as in leaf of a book (page) and leaf of a tree, so how about Leaf? For the 'good' part there could be Tobiah, Tobias, Tuvia/Tuvya, or the unisex Toby or even Tevye.

That's all I can think of offhand, and the selections are pretty random with little or no thought as to 'flow' with Micah. But perhaps something will strike you--or remind you of something else.

20
By Amy3
July 22, 2011 7:36 AM

I'm not a big fan of unisex names, which is probably no surprise since I'm also not drawn to surname names (and those are often unisex).

The first Rory I met was a girl (went to middle and high school with her). Since then I've only met boy Rorys and the name is all boy to me. I also knew a (boy) Jesse growing up, but now my daughter goes to school with a (girl) Jesse. When I met her I was surprised by the -e (as opposed to -ie) ending. I've never asked her mom why they chose that spelling, but I wonder if it was a case of "this name, girl or boy."

@MinkaRachel, I like Micah Bar, Micah Ilan, and Micah Oren (in that order). It's a neat sibling connection if they both have nature names as middles. I wouldn't choose Micah Jesse - being named for two people who passed away at a young age (I'm assuming) feels like a somber load for a kid. Micah Jude and Micah Wren feel too gender ambiguous.

@PennyX, Imogen Simone and Ursula Camille ... how lovely! I think Mo(e) could be a cute nn for Imogen, too. Maybe it would just be used by family and friends and she'd use Imogen in the "real" world. :)

21
By Coll
July 22, 2011 9:03 AM

One of my sisters is a Casey, and yet I've always felt it was a true unisex name. And in fact, my parents planned to name her that regardless of what sex she turned out to be-- somewhat unusual, it seems, from what I gather from baby name boards these days. I knew about equal numbers of male/female Caseys who were born in the '80s so that could be influencing my perception.

PennyX Imogen Simone is gorgeous. I have such a soft spot for Imogen. And you could combine the two names for a nn and call her Isa.

Incidentally, as I mentioned in a previous comment, I've been away from the site for several years. Did you (PennyX) used to go by Mirnada? I remember your fondness for Anya, if so.

22
July 22, 2011 9:04 AM

PennyX-Ursula Camille is great! I am not a fan of Imogen Simone its got too many N's in it. The names are too close. As far as a nn, I think Gen works best.

MinkaRachel-I like Micah Jude for flow the best.I also like the suggestion of Micah Basil. Other names to tribute your family connections listed above are Bayley, Marin or Paige but they both are girly and you've already used Bay. I will have to think of other options.

Re unisex names: I find many of those to be either/or. There are only a few truly unisex names for me.
Peyton/Payton=not sure
Devyn; Avery; Riley; Jessie; Sage=girl
Skyler; Harley=not sure
Armani; Casey; Justice; Ashton; Amari; Jayden=boy
A lot of times it depends on the spelling. I would be interested in older names like Morgan; Robin; Cameron; Bailey; etc.

23
By Coll
July 22, 2011 9:05 AM

Oh, and regarding the nickname Mo: I have a sister named Maura whom we occasionally call Mo (everyone except my mother, who is sent into a rage by that nickname). Her soccer teammates in high school and college always called her Mo, too. But it's more a pet name than a nickname, for she always introduces herself as/goes by Maura. Something similar could work fine for Imogen.

24
July 22, 2011 9:59 AM

Micah Ilan is really great, too. I wish I were Jewish enough (there's some in the family on Dad's side, but I wasn't really brought up Jewish) to use those Israeli names. They're so beautiful and elemental and the meanings are really wonderful. I'd just feel like a poser to use one, though...

I don't mind Mo as a pet name at home (DH is a master nicknamer), but not as a name to use in school.

How about Imogen Mireille and Ursula Camille? I know the pronunciation of Mireille is tricky, but it's a mn, after all. In a way, Camille is after a relative and Mireille is similar to my name (yes, I did go by Mirnada). So, in that way, both mn's would be kind of family names.

You know, we did like Anya, and it was my favorite name since I was 16, but for some reason we don't as much now. I think we're both leaning towards wanting something a little less precious and a little stronger. Anya is very sweet and pretty, but I guess its strong association with models and ballet dancers makes it lack some oumph.

25
July 22, 2011 10:23 AM

I'm also curious about how the culture (and laws) of a country can affect the acceptance (or not) of androgynous names.

In Germany (and many other European nations), for example, part of the naming law is that the child's gender must be identifiable from the name. As you might imagine, names aren't androgynous and don't swing genders, with the sole exception of Maria, which gets special dispensation for historical reasons.

But it causes interesting side effects. My wife is from Germany, and she learned about a girl named Casey, I believe. She turned to me and asked, isn't that a boy's name? I told her it's both. "So... you could go to class, and there could be a little boy named Casey, and a little girl named Casey?" Yup. That was hard for her to wrap her head around. When you don't experience it, and get taught that it would be a problem, then it's hard to see.

PennyX, regarding nicknames, you can't stop them. Nicknamers will be nicknamers, and I've even met some people who have trouble relating to someone that they can't nickname. The nickname becomes the evidence of the connection between them. If your husband needs one, Genie or Immy might work.

MinkaRachel, I like Micah Jude the most from your list, both because of flow, and because it keeps the J memorial.

As for plant/herb/spice names for a boy, here's what I'm thinking:

Basil
Sorrel
Zedoary
Tamarind
Cardamom
Cress
Jute
Cotton
Hyssop (or the Hebrew Ezov)

Just my standard out-there thinking, I know.

26
By knp
July 22, 2011 10:59 AM

I had posted this request for info earlier in the week on the last post, but it got eaten by the machine.

I was looking at the state specific SSA name data (link through Nancy's baby names website) and was happy to find our top three names (Vaughn, Daphne, Vienna) were all only used <10 times per year in the state I live in and the state most of my family is in. :) So, even though Daphne is more popular nationwide, more locally it isn't. :)

But, everytime we talk about girls names, my husband asks what nicknames are good for Daphne Aurora. I find this funny since he is a Michael who does not like to go by Mike. :) And, our boys name is Vaughn Isaac, which also has no nicknames. But, our other girls name, Vienna Colette, has a couple nns we like (Vee, Vico). So, dear name nerds, help me brainstorm nicknames for a name that I don't think needs one: Daphne Aurora (last names starts with P). My list so far: Dap, Fee, Nene, Daffy (which is probably what my husband wants to stay away from), Dory (a combo of D- and Rory from mn?).

who knows, maybe when we find out the gender, it'll be a boy and this will be a non-issue. :)

on androgynous names, I love them. and for the commenter above, I agree that there are probably many more that are very close when you look below 500 babies.

27
July 22, 2011 11:17 AM

knp-My first inclination is Daphne Aurora=Ro or Fifi (too dog-like?); Vienna Colette=Vee or Coco or maybe Vicki?; and Vaughn Isaac (which I love!) is Izzy? or Zac

28
July 22, 2011 12:11 PM

Hi all,

Sorry to hijack the fascinating conversation here for a moment. Some of you know me as Laura's partner here at BabyNameWizard.com and at NameCandy.com.

We're conducting some research with The Parents Insight Network on attitudes and opinions of first-time moms (primarily regarding the types of products they are interested in for their babies).

If you are pregnant or adopting for the first time, please take a moment to complete the survey. (you will get a $5 gift certificate in exchange for your time).

http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/589409/Buying4Baby

(and please feel free to share with anyone you know who is expecting their first baby)

Thanks!
Jennie

29
By Amy3
July 22, 2011 12:35 PM

@knp, I'm with you in thinking Daphne Aurora needs no nn. There's a Daphne in my bldg (going to be a sophomore in HS) who goes by just Daphne, afaik. However, if your husband really wants a nn prior to the birth, then I like Dory.

30
July 22, 2011 6:41 PM

i’ve been wanting to share an interesting sibset with everyone. i am only guessing on the ages:

Ad@ (girl, 8)
T0wn3s (boy, 5)
Hav3n (girl, 3)

townes was particularly interesting to me. they told me that he was named after townes van zandt, who was described to me as a “womanizing, alcoholic musician from texas, but we both love his music!” (ha!) also on interest is jewel’s son, who, according to name candy, has the middle name of townes. but i find hav3n very jarring with the other two. to me, hav3n should have a sister named destiny or something…@da and t0wnes seem more old-fashioned to me.

also, i don't tend to love androdynous names. i *strongly* prefer quinn, rory, rowan, and emerson on boys. i don't think i'll ever get over emerson. i understand, of course, that there are popular girls' names that start with "em" (one of them is my name!), but emerson is incredibly masculine sounding to me...i can't imagine it on a little girl at all. i honestly find it a bit boggling.

jesse is purely male to me, but jessie could be female.

beth the original,
to me, jude is purely masculine (and old testament-y), but i understand that in the UK it can be short for judith...?

31
July 22, 2011 4:36 PM

from the last thread:

valerie,
that really surprises me about hermione in the uk! i sort of assumed that it was uncommon but familiar. maybe the equivalent in america would be…greer? i’ve never met a greer, and it’s quite uncommon, but automatically familiar due to the celebrity. except greer is rather easy to pronounce compared to hermione. on the other hand, it's nice to know that it wasn't just americans who completely butchered it! hmm, well I’d be interested in any other british imput on the subject of the familiarity of hermione in the uk pre-hp. (not that I don’t trust you, valerie! i'm just so curious!)

Astrid Elodie
Alexander james
Olive
James Philip
Imogen Pearl
did i miss any? those are ALL wonderful. honestly, i think they're simply gorgeous.

Coll,
I love both Simon and Josephine! Excellent choices. :]

c-line,
I vote Edvard, just because Edward and Axel seem too different. Edvard just “fits” better to me.

Kendalyn is not my style. : /

Oh, and a belated thumbs up to lucy juniper. I really like both names (*adore* juniper), and I like repeating sounds within names, so that repeating ‘u’ is really nice to my ears.

knp,
I vote Daphne Aurora, though Vienna Colette is also lovely. I just generally don’t lean toward place names, so the former appeals to me more. i don’t really think daphne needs a nickname, though it should be kept in mind that I didn’t really come from a nicknamey family.

Anne with an e,
I really like both Clara and Penelope, and I think that you could easily keep it “just Penelope” if you wanted. I have sisters named Olivia and Annalisa (both also four syllables) and no one ever called them anything but that. Oh, and on name candy, there was an article proposing the name pippa as a nickname for Penelope: http://www.namecandy.com/celebrity-baby-names/blog/2011/07/06/celebrity-name-synergy-pippa-meets-penelope I think it has potential. And pippa is my puppy’s name, so I rather like it. :]
oh, and I don’t really think Eloise is too matchy with Eleanor—how many people are going to know both of your children’s first and middle names, anyway?

Pennyx,
I do like Ursula Camille, though I think I prefer Ursula Sabine (as mentioned above, I like repeating sounds, so I don’t at all feel that there are too many s’s in Ursula sabine). with regards to penelope, maybe the above pippa-penelope article will be useful for you too? also, how are you pronouncing ulla/ulli? Is it oo-la or you-la? I like imogen, but don’t love simone, for some reason. I can’t quite pinpoint why…

Kern,
I like cora-jane, but if the pronunciation core-jane is going to bother you (it would me), then I think I would maybe do some rethinking. But it’s up to you of course! You should definitely choose a name you love.

Zoerhenne,
Regarding that article: it’s funny, but I actually quite like the sound of the name Lucifer. It’s sort of along the same lines as oliver for me, but combined with those very stylish “lu” names. And it has a nice meaning as well. However, I would never use it, for obvious reasons. But still, I always thought it was rather a shame.

Minkarachel

I vote micah zev or micah jude!

32
By sarah smile (not verified)
July 22, 2011 7:25 PM

For Daphne Aurora, what about Nea (Nee-uh)? Last 2 letters of FN + 1st letter of middle, and it works as cute without being precious to me.

33
By alr
July 22, 2011 10:18 PM

Hello fellow NEs, I come with a very odd question. Does anyone here come from the generation of Cabbage Patch craze? And if so, do you recall your baby's given name? For some reason it dawned on me today that my beloved doll was "Evelyn Petunia." This is interesting to me for two reasons: 1. Two of DH and my 4 favorite middle names for Naomi are flowers - perhaps I was influenced at an early age? 2. How ahead of their time were Xavier Roberts & Co. for using a name like Evelyn?!

It made me wonder... how many folks my age (ish) were influenced by the names their dolls were given... and were many of them "antique revivals" like mine?

34
July 23, 2011 10:37 AM

alr-I was around for the original generation of CP kids. Many of them had "different" names to me. My peers were of course Michael's and Susan's but the CP names were Olga, Ruth, Mildred type things. I'm sure Xavier was naming from his era. I had two kids, a boy and a girl. I don't remember the original name of the girl (I think I renamed her Ashley or something) but the boy was Franz. He had red/orange hair and little overalls. It was a very German look along with the name. The "new wave" of CP kids that happened a few years back was more interesting to me because the names seemed to now be more updated. I found Natalie's, Sophia's, Ava's and the like.

35
By Tamale (not verified)
July 23, 2011 10:52 AM

How funny that the previous poster brought up Cabbage Patch Kid names on this particular post, because from what I recall, my Cabbage Patch had an androgynous name! It was definitely a male doll, but I am pretty sure his name was Cory (I don't remember the second name). I've recently met a baby Kori (girl) so I wonder if it has trended more to the girls these days. Maybe it depends on spelling?

Anyway, I am a very long-time lurker coming out of hiding to hopefully get some help from all of you awesome Baby Name Wizard readers.
My apologies in advance that this post will be a novel.
I just found out a few weeks ago that I’m pregnant with my first baby! Needless to say, I am beyond excited. The problem is that now that it’s actually time to start thinking about a name for a real person, I’m finding myself a bit paralyzed. So far nothing is really jumping out to me as “the name.”
It’s very early in the naming process (I’m not due until March), so at this point I’d love to expand my list of options and hear some names that might appeal to me that I haven’t thought of myself yet.
I figured I’d make a list of the names my husband and I have currently short-listed, as well as some things I liked that are now off the list for various reasons, and maybe you awesome namers could give me some additional suggestions to consider?

Boys:
There are exactly three names that my husband and I agree on at this point:
Julian
Sebastian
Adam
Of those names, Julian is my husband’s favorite, followed by Sebastian. He recently heard Sebastian on a tour we were taking of an historical home (Sebastian was the name of the home's owner in the 1700s) and he fell for it hard. He likes that it can’t really be shortened into a nickname. I like both names quite a bit but worry that both (but particularly Julian) are getting pretty trendy. Both my husband and I have very popular names for our generation. I don’t need the name to be something unheard of, but I’m not sure I want to give a child a name like mine that pretty clearly date-stamps him/her to a particular generation. Adam feels more timeless to me. I know Adams of all ages, but not a ton of them, and the name has so many associations that not one stands out for me in a negative way.
Some boy names that I like that my husband has rejected or that we can’t use:
Graham (“sounds like the butler”)
Alton (“too close to Elton, like Elton John. No way”)
Barrett (just no)
Nathaniel (already have a nephew named Nathan), Benjamin (can be shortened to “Ben,” which doesn’t work with our last name…more on THAT dilemma in a minute!)

Girls:
Our girls list is a bit longer, but while I like all of the names on this list I have reservations about many of them.
Azalea-I don’t love that this has a couple of different pronunciations
Rosalie-I dislike the Twilight association, and I bet my husband might reject this one if I pointed out that it was a name used in those novels (I haven’t told him that yet, and he’s on board with it so far because he likes the nickname Rose)
Johanna-I blow hot and cold on this one. Right now I’m not feeling it, but not quite willing to take it off the list completely yet
Isabelle-Both my husband and I like this name, but I’d never use it as a first name at this point because of the glut of Isabellas. I’m 80% sure this will be the middle name, though, because we just like it so much. I’m not married to this spelling.
Adeline or Adelaine-I actually like Adelaide best, but it sounds very clunky with our last name. My husband thinks Adelaine sounds made-up (because it is), but I prefer it to Adeline, which sounds a bit “country” to me.
Louisa-I really like this one, husband is not completely on board with it but hasn’t rejected it outright
Clara-If our baby was born tomorrow, this would be her name. It only made its way onto our hypothetical list recently, but I am falling for it! Think it’s jumping up the charts too quickly?
Annabelle-Too similar to Isabella?
Clarissa-I like Clara better, but like the sound and feel of Clarissa, too, and feel like it’s maybe not as trendy
Charlotte-This is probably the runner-up to Clara right now. I’ve heard several mentions of it on my baby board already, though, and I know it has been increasing in popularity so I worry it’s about to really blow up.
Girl names I like but that were rejected:
Gemma and Simone (My husband thinks they are“too stripper-ish." I have no idea where he gets these ideas!)
Meredith (for whatever reason my husband thinks this name is “too Jewish,” and since we’re not Jewish he doesn’t want to use it. I pointed out that it’s not a Jewish name, but I guess he knew a Jewish girl in high school with this name, so he’s not convinced)
Wilhelmina (I wanted this with the nickname Minnie, my husband thinks it’s “too weird”)
Imogen (Doesn’t work with our last name)

Man, I told you this would be a novel! Okay, here’s the final complicating factor: We have a really difficult last name. It’s basically Dur. It’s not spelled like that, but it starts with a D and rhymes with “Fur.” This means that almost any one-syllable name becomes a word when combined with our last name, as do some other names as well: Lee Dur, Bree Dur, Jen Dur, Ben Dur, Colin Dur, Cora Dur…(leader, breeder, gender, bender, colander, corridor in some accents)
My husband also pointed out that we shouldn’t use any names that begin with E or O because he swears that kids will make the O. Dur or E. Dur connection (odor, eater). That also rules out names that end in O (Meadow Dur, for instance, becomes Med Odor). So I ruled out Eliza and Octavia for that reason. (Personally, I think kids are going to find a reason to make fun of each other no matter what!)

So…anyone feel like tossing out some options? I keep thinking that maybe there’s something perfect out there that I just haven’t considered yet.
P.S.-Yes, I told my husband he can make some suggestions, too, but he prefers this system where I come up with names and he accepts or rejects them, so this works for me!

36
By knp
July 23, 2011 11:21 AM

thanks all on the Daphne issue
sarah smile: my hubby liked Nea, until we looked down at our dog Mina and realized that might be a might to close! :)

cabbage patch dolls: mine was a homemade one (an aunt made it for me) and it had initials on its bum-- mine! So, it's name was Krissy Nicky, named after me: Kristin Nicole.

Tamale: I'm gonna have to take some time to absorb all of that, and come up with suggestions! A great starting place is the rest of this site and Laura's book. you can take Laura's book and figure out what style types you might fit into and the look at other names based on that style. And, if you become an expert member (see blue dot above) there is a feature called name matchmaker where you can put in names and it'll come up with some similar (not always be sound, but also style). another similar site is nymbler.com

37
By Lachicajulia (not verified)
July 23, 2011 12:45 PM

My four-year-old's ballerina princess class included a Mason, a Holden and a Luca. A surprising assortment of androgynous names for such a girly activity!

38
By EVie
July 23, 2011 12:47 PM

Tamale - I love so many of your choices! And OMG your husband sounds just like mine (especially with the Meredith veto—I got a veto once because about 15 years ago he knew one girl who was a friend of a friend who was annoying).

Boys' names - I love both Sebastian and Julian. Adam seems a little on the plain side compared to your other choices (which feel very elegant and aristocratic to me). I understand the popularity concern, though. I'll second knp's suggestion of looking at Laura's book—I think there's a section called Ladies and Gentlemen (or something like that) which might fit your style. I'll think about it some more, but to throw out a few more ideas—Oliver, Theodore, Simon, Edmund, Alastair, Lucas, Elliott, Dominic? (Oh—just remembered the no O or E rule—but I'll leave them there anyway). Also, my husband vetoed Graham, too, based on the cracker, and I've heard of others doing the same—seems like a name that's more popular with women than men.

Girls' names - Since you like Rosalie and Isabelle/Annabelle, can I sell you on Rosabel?? It gets your husband the nickname Rose, plus dodges both the Twilight connection and the popularity (Rosabel has never been in the top 1000). Win-win-win! Otherwise, I'll also put in a plug for my beloved Rosamund.

Other thoughts:

Azalea - I've only ever heard this as uh-ZAY-lee-uh. What other pronunciation are you hearing? I've only known one, but I've never heard anyone mispronounce her name (and she was a fairly public figure at my college, so people would refer to her without knowing her personally).

Johanna - I like it, though it never quite makes my own list. I can't think of it without getting the song from Sweeney Todd stuck in my head (and reading the lyrics now, it's kind of a creepy song... but pretty).

Isabelle - Good call on keeping it for the middle. I prefer the spelling Isabel.

Clara - LOVE
Clarissa - don't love. It's a little frilly for me.

Adeline/Adelaine - I like Adelaide the best, too, but I'm afraid I don't care for Adelaine (it does sound made up). I don't think Adeline is necessarily too country. Have you considered Ada, Adelia or Adele?

Charlotte - It's on my list, too, and I have the exact same concerns

Louisa - I like it, but I prefer some of your other choices

39
July 23, 2011 2:35 PM

Jordan is the only name that I can think of where I wouldn't assume gender upon reading it. From the list, I'd assume girl for Dakota, Jessie (as a nn for Jessica, and Jesse is purely male), Quinn, Justice, Dominique (at least in America, if I were in a French-speaking country it would be different), Rory, Jaylin, Casey, and Rowan and boy for Jaidyn, Amari, Riley, Emerson, Armani, and Harley.

@ knp: I like Dory for Daphne Aurora (which I love btw!)

@ Tamale: I love all of your boys' names! For girls,
Azalea - I don't know how this could be pronounced other than uh-ZAY-lee-uh (uh-ZAYL-yah?) but I really like it.

Johanna - Are you pronouncing this jo-HANNAH or jo-ANNA, because I like the -anna pronunciation a lot with your ln.

Isabelle - I really like this name and I think that if you like it, just go for it (although a middle is a good compromise.) I really like both spellings.

Clara - I love this one!

Clarissa - I like this with your ln better than Clara, but both are great.

Adeline/Adelaine - I love Adelaide, but I'm not so fond of Adeline or Adelaine (does sound made-up) and I don't think Adelaide sounds bad with your ln.

Charlotte - Don't love it, but it isn't bad.

Louisa - I like it, but not as much as some of your other choices.

Rosalie - I understand your concern about Twilight, but I think that this would work well in the mn spot!

Annabelle - I like the Annabel spelling more, but I still like this a lot. Not as much as Isabel(le), but it still works.

40
July 23, 2011 8:50 PM

I believe that my Cabbage Patch doll (whom I affectionately referred to as "Cabby") came with the name Marcy Darcy. I also think that I disliked the rhyme and gave her the new middle name Gail, after my revered older cousin's middle name. I got her in 1985 and she had long dark brown hair like mine. Man, I loved that doll.

As for androgynous names, I'm really not a fan overall. Some names, like Casey, Jamie, and Riley can really go either way in my mind, but for me, Jordan, Ryan, Jesse can only be male, and girls with those names have a boys' name. It really annoys me that Rowan is being given to so many girls. However, Quinn doesn't feel male to me because I first really became aware of it watching Daria.

I do know a female Jesse and her parents were hippies who wanted to go against the system of needing to give girls girls' names, so they were going to name her Jesse whether she had been a boy or a girl. And even though I'm used to it being her name, I still think that she has a boy's name.

41
July 23, 2011 10:50 PM

Tamale-I'm going to also suggest you look into Laura's site further and also on Nymbler.com
EVie gave you some good suggestions, I like Simon and Elliott from them. Adam is one of my favorite names (click on my sn to see my profile where there are more of my favs). I wouldn't use Adam with your last name though because to me in runs into your LN as well. My suggestions are something with a hard sound at the end like Eric or Patrick. Maybe something with an L sound like Kyle would work also. Or how about Vaughn, Isaac, Grant, Vincent, Aaron. Most of those listed don't (or don't have to have nn's). Let us know if these work.

For girls, I like Charlotte, Rosalie, Jacqueline/Jaquelyn, Zoe, Beatrice, Angelica (any long name like this).

42
By mk (not verified)
July 23, 2011 11:38 PM

I read in an article once that the creator of the Cabbage Patch Dolls chose their names based on a baby name book from the 1930s. I don't remember the middle names of my dolls, but the first names they came with Joyce, Alice, and Loretta. I changed them to Jessica, Amy, and Lauren.

43
July 24, 2011 7:28 AM

Thanks for all of the suggestions and comments from everyone for our soon to be here baby boy possibly named Micah. By the way, my husband agrees with a previous poster that we can't name the baby after both friends who passed away young since it's just too much. But that means 'J' names are now out for him, which is a shame because I love J names.

One other question: Although my husband and I are strongly considering Micah, I suddenly realized that some people might call him Mike, a nickname I don't really like. The few Micahs I have known never went by Mike, but do you think this is an issue? We could always move it to the middle slot to avoid this, but then we would need to come up with another first name, and there are so few male names we like for some reason.

I definitely remember Cabbage Patch kids names sounding really old fashioned to me back in the early 80's.

By the way, I met a male 'Tovi' the other day, which I had never heard of and thought was interesting (tov means 'good' in Hebrew). That is definitely a name that could go either way I think, like a lot of Israeli names. I also met a Jacoby yesterday. I've always loved the name Coby, and think Jacoby is intriguing because it's less common than Jacob (and Jacobson is a name in my family), but my husband doesn't like it.

44
By Yet Another Guest (not verified)
July 24, 2011 1:43 PM

Brunch guests arriving any minute, so this will be short: @Minka, I don't think you need to worry about Micah becoming Mike (unless, as an adult, he decides on his own, of course). You just let him know that Micah is his name and if others in your presence try to call him Mike, just politely inform them that Micah is his name.

My name is M@rit@, which easily could have become Mari or Rita, but my mother was very firm that my name was my name. I've had pet names from people (my grade 6 teacher called me Mo, my grade 7 teacher called me Betsy!), but never a nickname that stuck or that I took on myself. When people ask us what we call our sons after we've told them their names, I just repeat their names. I know many love to nickname people, and I have no problem with pet names, but don't really do nicknames in our family and it doesn't seem to be a problem.

45
By just a name hobbyist (not verified)
July 24, 2011 2:21 PM

Hi! Totally off topic, but I just read a list of names of participants in a junior rodeo in Utah, and wow- that's a oddball list of names. I don't think there's a single overlap with the names in my upper-middle Boston suburb town. Really a diversification of American names going on...

http://daddytypes.com/2011/07/23/enterprise_rodeo_contestant_name_roundup.php

46
July 24, 2011 4:37 PM

Tamale: Clara is one of my favorites, too. Wish my husband would go for it.

47
By alr as guest (not verified)
July 24, 2011 4:54 PM

Fun challenge!!

A fellow adoptive mom (to be) is stumped for a girl's name. She already has two boys: Dakota and Josiah, and one girl, Janae. I am at a loss here -- what is the common thread? I don't even know where to go with suggestions. Thoughts? :)

48
By Yet Another Guest (not verified)
July 24, 2011 8:59 PM

@alr - I'd peg her style as perhaps Frontier/New Country? I can see all those names on little cowboys/cowgirls. It's not really my style, but these are some girls names that popped in my head. They may be way off base, but here it goes:
Sequoia
Juniper (this one I love, but it might not fit)
Teagan
Tanis
Sierra
Scarlett
Hailey
Maisie
Kendra

49
August 9, 2011 3:58 AM

Poasting this from the other thread:
-----
Hi, Elizabeth T! Got the page a bit late - we've been enjoying the glorious summer and spending less time on the computer. I've caught up on reading posts but it's been on a few long visits rather than shorter installments, which makes it harder to comment while the discussion on a topic is still active!

To answer your excellent question: we're pretty settled on the name of this baby being Rupert. We'd decided that it would be the name for a second son right after we named son #1, and it's been on The List for far longer. I think changing the name at this point would be unthinkable unless there was a very compelling reason to do so... and the media scandal doesn't quite seem to fit the bill.

BUT, I would love to hear opinions from other people as to whether this is a big deal!

It helps that we are hopefully not having the baby until October, by which point the scandal may have died down a bit. I do recognize that for a lot of people Rupert Murdoch will be the primary association for the name, especially now, but I'm hoping that for people in our lives, our exceptionally cute baby will be the primary association for them after they meet said cute baby. And it helps that with the fuss around the final Harry Potter movie, the name Rupert has also been getting a more positive boost in the media, concurrently.

We had something vaguely similar happen last time: Britain's Oldest Mum news story which broke when we were expecting son #1, and the son in question was named the same name we'd just selected for our in-utero child. No one ever put the two together, perhaps because we are not in Britain after all. It's NOT like that in that this is a rather higher profile case and it's a less fluffy, positive news story.

I do suspect that there will be some complaining about the scandal association from the more-news-following grandparents when the baby is born and the name is revealed. But we are just not that involved ourselves, and I think the grandparents can deal.

---------

The bigger issue is that the middle name we'd been planning to use was James, a family name on the Spouse's (non-genetically-connected) side. While I'm pretty convinced we'll plow ahead with Rupert regardless of what happens with News Corp, I do think it's increasingly that we won't be using the names of both the News Corp figures embroiled in this scandal (Rupert Murdoch's son and acting CEO). That means we're back to the drawing board on middle names.

There are a bunch of A-names (Arthur, Alan, Adrian) that we're eliminating on the grounds that the initials would spell RAG.

There is George, which we both like a great deal but which seems to us to be the same sort of name as Rupert - pleasantly fusty, very outmoded and Britishy, and we'd really like for the middle name to provide our kid with a different name option in case he doesn't want a fusty outmoded Britishy name. This seems extra important because Rupert doesn't have a lot of flexible nickname choices. Thoughts about this? Much in the same boat (only perhaps more so) are Maurice and Ernest - they just seem too much of the same with Rupert.

And, then, there is Henry, which is a family name on my side instead, but which the Spouse and I both love. We get the impression it's trending upwards locally much more than nationally, much like son#1's middle name of Max. I know Henry probably has fusty outmoded Britishy connotations in many parts of the country, but where we live it's pretty well under swing as a revival.

I'd like thoughts especially on whether the involvement of Rupert Murdoch and James Murdoch in the recent scandal would be enough to make you advise against the Rupert James combo.

50
By Penny in Australia (not verified)
July 25, 2011 12:41 AM

off topic. A tweet by a comedian called @PimpBillClinton on 23 July...

"Cool: Your girlfriend is precious. Uncool: Your girlfriend is Precious."