It is socially acceptable to use traditional boys names for girls but not the other way around. I like unisex names. I have one.

That said, there are many names for boys that do not work for girls. Many parents think it's okay to give a girl any boy name, but I disagree. "It's a family name," is often the excuse. Often saddled on the youngest of a set of daughters because they are finished having children and they always wanted a son. What boys names have you heard given to girls that should not be used for a girl, ever?

A few I have heard used,





Richard - I've never met a girl named Richard, but I have heard of parents considering it (family name, dad wanted a son.) Richard is not a unisex name. Nor is Harry, Edward, or Gregory. Some names are inherently masculine and should just be left that way. I can just see pretty little Richard coming home from school in tears because her classmates nned her "Dick."

If you've named your daughter Rodney, Scott, Thomas or even Richard or Greg, no offense. I just think some boys names are too masculine to be unisex just as many girls names are too feminine. But maybe your daughter can pull it off.

Can you imagine a little boy named Tatiana, Kathleen, or Caroline? :/


I was trying to think of girls names that would be okay for boys. Can you think of any?

A few I found,







February 25, 2014 2:35 PM

Looked into the girl's names I posted. Tabor is apparently already unisex so you can scratch it off the list.

February 25, 2014 9:40 PM

I was looking at the SSA data for my birth year, and I was pretty suprised to find Jessica and Cheyenne on the boy list, of course, both were below 'Babyboy', so it could be a clerical error. There was also Jade, Blair, Dana, Ariel, and Addison higher up on the list. Ariel is the biggest shock, because for alot of parents, Ariel is a disney princess (I was born post- Little Mermaid, so it was already out there) but all of these names are pretty strongly female to me. Most of the time I can ignore mismatched gendered name to person because I know alot of names, esp. surname first names, started out as boy names, but I wonder about parents who ignore strong gender associations with names because it can be really hard on kid especially boys (I know its sexist and wrong, but its also true).

February 25, 2014 10:03 PM

Ariel was originally a boy name. It is a Hebrew name that I love, but will not use due to a) not being Jewish so feels like I'm trying to claim heritage I don't have and b) the gender issue because we are not Jewish or in a Jewish community.


February 25, 2014 10:43 PM

This is the opposite of what you're asking for, but I once knew a man name Shirley.  I'm pretty sure his parents were expecting to have a girl and just kept the name when they had a boy instead.  He went by 'Hip' instead, a part of his last name.  

February 25, 2014 11:17 PM

I'm not sure how you all might feel about Blake, but I did meet a female Blake once. As for the Addison (and Maddison) name, I've met men named that, but never any women.

February 25, 2014 11:18 PM

I forgot to add I completely agree with the names you mentioned

February 26, 2014 9:53 AM

I have had male students named Madison and Cassidy. Both of them were born slightly before those names started to be given predominently to girls.

February 26, 2014 9:15 PM

Since celebrities stand in a class of their own with baby names I'm not sure this counts, but Jessica Simpson named her daughter…

Maxwell :/

Not a unisex name. Not even a little.

February 26, 2014 9:21 PM

In my opinion, the only girl's names mentioned that were inappropriately used for a boy are Shirley and Jessica. The rest I could see working. Disney did kill the name Ariel but, to be fair, it does have an undeniably feminine quality.

Can you think of any boy names that were inappropriately used for girls?

Or any girl names that haven't been used but would be okay for a boy? 

February 27, 2014 2:37 AM

Actually, Shirley (like most surnames-as-givens) had a history of male use -- the whole point of Charlotte Brontë's choice of name for her (female) title character was that it was unexpected for a girl. Granted, that was a good century before Miss Temple, so male Shirleys don't much show up in the Social Security data -- it peaked for boys at the same time as it did for girls, with fewer than 500 births (compared to 40,000+ girls), which is likely almost all the result of clerical error.

February 27, 2014 9:42 PM

I looked up the meaning to see if it had any masculine qualities. It means "bright meadow." It seems kind of neutral. Like River, and Brooke/Brook. I wonder if it was used as a common term. "Meet me at the shirley/river/brook."

February 27, 2014 1:15 PM

See, and I don't see the feminine quality of Ariel. It didn't really have that until Disney's Little Mermaid. So it has become "undeniably" to the majority of the population. For those who knew the Hebrew name before the movie, it is not a given. 

February 27, 2014 8:31 PM

I suspect it's not just people familiar with the Hebrew name; it's also in use in Hispanic populations for boys (along with Angel, which in the non-Hispanic US population mostly applies to girls). 

February 27, 2014 9:29 PM

More than Disney, I think the femininity is because so many people now are pronouncing it "Arielle," ryhming with "bell" as opposed to "aerial." When pronounced properly, it could still work for a boy. Hispanic culture in the US still uses it as a male name. Ariel Lopez sounds masculine to me and Ariel Johnson sounds feminine. I suppose it's a reflection of how independent cultures within societies have their own ideas about name gender identification.


February 28, 2014 1:44 AM

The pronunciation of Ariel is: ah-ree-EHL

Most people I know pronounce the female version as "aerial", not the properly pronounced ah-ree-EHL (which rhymes with "bell").

March 7, 2014 11:42 PM

Since we may have different accents, we may be saying the same thing and not know it. I most often heard it pronounced, for boys, like the last five recordings at this link.


It is similar to other male names that end in "iel", Daniel, Nathaniel, Ezekiel, etc. That, with the exception of the crab with the Jamaican accent, is also the pronunciation in the Disney movie. The crab sounds more like the first recording at the above link.

I most often hear it pronounced, for girls, like the French name Arielle. It's probably a local thing. If I were to venture a guess, I'd say it's because of the French cultural influence (Cajun). Why they don't just use the spelling Arielle, I don't know. Maybe because of Disney? It's a mystery to me. You wouldn't spell Danielle without the "le" at the end, would you? What am I asking, somebody probably has.


March 8, 2014 7:55 PM

So the original name is a male Hebrew name. 

Sounds like the Hebrew pronunciation on your first link for boys (with the Spanish being a close second). I only hear this when there is a boy with the name. (ah-ree-EHL -- emphasis on last syllable)

What I hear most commonly for girls here is the 3rd choice (famale US) on your first link, which is also how most people around here say aeriel. (Emphasis on first syllable AIR-ee-uhl)

I've never heard anyone pronounce it like the Arielle link. 

July 10, 2018 10:45 AM

I've seen the names Kelly, Ashley, Madison, Alexis, and Cheyenne all used for boys before. Other girl names I think could work for boys are Kennedy, Brooklyn (Brooke), Darcy, Kirby, Carmen (a name commonly used for Italian men), and Nicola.

July 14, 2018 6:20 PM

Tamsen and Anniston have always seemed to me to be inherently unisex, despite the fact that they're usually only used for girls. I can also easily see a boy named Morrigan or Alba.