20 of the Trendiest Gender-Neutral Baby Names
Whether you want classic, cool or quirky, there’s a gender-neutral baby name out there that will check all your boxes.
20 of the Trendiest Gender-Neutral Baby Names
Gender-neutral baby names are more popular than ever — but not always for the same reason. Some parents want to keep their kid’s name unisex to help prevent gender stereotyping. Others want to use family names to keep tradition going (or keep relatives happy). And some people simply choose a name based on whether they like it, not caring what gender it is — or was — most commonly given to.
Some gender-neutral names are truly unisex, in that they’re more or less equally popular for boys and girls. Others are most common for boys but growing in popularity for girls, and vice versa. With more and more parents choosing gender-neutral baby names, none of these names are seen as unusual any more — whatever the child’s sex. So, whether you want classic, cool or quirky, there’s a gender-neutral baby name out there that will check all your boxes.
Charlie is one of the few gender-neutral names that can truly be called unisex. According to the most recent U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) statistics, 1,716 baby boys were given the name Charlie in 2018, compared to 1,840 baby girls.
Charlie’s most popular year in the boy name chart was 2017, when it ranked No. 218. The following year, it claimed its most popular year in the girl name chart, peaking at No. 152. In other words, what began as a boy’s nickname (it’s a diminutive of the English name Charles, which means “free man”) has now become more popular for girls in the U.S.
A unisex Hebrew name sometimes given in Israel to kids born under the goat sign of Capricorn (it means “mountain goat”), Jael is a perfect pick for parents who want a traditional biblical name that’s also forward-thinking and gender-fluid.
And whether you give Jael to a boy or a girl, the name has some legacy — in the Bible, Jael was a strong woman who killed Sisera, the commander of the Canaanite army, in his sleep (by driving a tent peg through his head, no less).
Some name associations are unavoidable, particularly when the bearer is one of the world’s biggest icons. So, the name Presley will always bring to mind a certain nimble-footed performer. But today, more than 40 years since the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll left Graceland for good, Presley is far more common for girls than boys.
In 2018, it was the 206th most popular baby girl name in the U.S. By comparison, it hasn’t ranked in the top 1,000 for boys for more than 100 years. An English name meaning “priest’s meadow,” Presley could be a good choice if you’re not quite ready to name your daughter Elvis.
The Irish name Lennon, meaning “small clock or cape,” is another one with rock ‘n’ roll roots. After all, The Beatles’ John Lennon is still one of the most famous songwriters in history. But besides its pop-culture connections, Lennon is one of those last names that is fast racing up the first-name charts.
It broke into the top 1,000 for boys in 2008 and for girls in 2013, and continues to climb. Musicians Liam Gallagher and Adam Pascal have both used Lennon for their sons, but the name is more popular for girls, thanks in part to YouTube sensation and star of the hit television show “Nashville,” Lennon Stella.
Strong and powerful like the tree it’s derived from, Oakley was a popular boy’s name between 1901 and 1920, but slipped down the chart until 2011, when it made a surprise comeback. It first made an appearance on the top 1,000 chart for girls in 2013, and is now even more popular for girls than it is for boys.
Famous namesakes include actor Oaklee Pendergast, novelist Oakley Maxwell Hall, Instafamous baby Oakley Madison Fisher and, of course, Annie Oakley, one of the most famous American sharpshooters.
The name Blake may still be more popular for boys than for girls (silver-haired “Dynasty” patriarch Blake Carrington helped it break into the top 100 for boys in the ’80s), but actress Blake Lively deserves credit for pushing it up the girl name chart over the last few years.
An English name with a conflicting meaning (“fair-haired, dark”), Blake is a short, sweet choice for both sexes — and it goes really well with a longer last name.
Like Charlie, Frankie began as a diminutive of a boy’s name (take your pick from Frank, Francis or Franklin), but it is now used in almost equal numbers for girls and boys. In 2015, it ranked No. 992 for both sexes in the U.S. By 2018, it had dropped out of the top 1,000 for boys, but was No. 808 for girls, its highest position since 1969.
Famous parents who’ve chosen Frankie for their daughters include Drew Barrymore and Will Kopelman, Mia Farrow and Instagrammer Amber Fillerup Clark.
Hayden is a traditional English boy’s name meaning “fire” or “heather-grown hill,” but it’s a popular name for girls, too. It took a huge leap on the boys’ chart in the late ’80s, and started climbing the girls’ chart in 1998, rising steadily for the next 10 years.
With multiple spelling variations available, including Haydyn, Haiden, Haydn and Haydon, this is a unisex name that you can easily make your own, whether you like the connection to “Nashville” star Hayden Panettiere, “Star Wars” regular Hayden Christensen or football player Hayden Smith.
Originally a diminutive of Robert, Robin (“bright fame”) is now a name in its own right, and just as popular for girls as boys. In 2015, Robin re-entered the top 1,000 for boys for the first time since 1999; in 2018, it was back in the top 1,000 for girls after a 14-year hiatus.
If you’re into bird names, Robin is a less obvious choice than Bluebird, Lark, Phoenix or Sparrow. You can also find inspiration from its many famous namesakes: actor Robin Williams, figure skater Robin Cousins and singer Robin Thicke, just to name a few.
Another last name that’s making waves as a modern first name, Murphy is a Celtic name meaning “sea warrior.” Despite being the most common family name in Ireland, it makes a great first name.
While it hasn’t yet made the top 1,000 for either sex, we reckon this is one to watch out for. And although there are more famous male Murphys, who can forget the ambitious, feisty, dedicated star of the popular ’80s and ’90s sitcom, “Murphy Brown”?
From Avery Able, Fern’s cheeky big brother in the classic children’s book “Charlotte’s Web,” to contemporary artist Avery Singer, the gender-neutral name with the mythical meaning (“ruler of elves”) continues to enjoy a comeback for both sexes.
It’s more popular for girls today — it ranked No. 12 in 2013 — but it has a longer tradition as a boy’s name, ranking in the SSA chart since it started in 1900.
As a last name, Kennedy has its strongest association with former President John F. Kennedy and his prominent political family. As a first name, it’s more common for girls — a top 100 name since 2011, it hit its highest spot of No. 58 in 2017. But it’s also gone through periods of popularity for boys, most recently from 1994 to 2005.
It’s a contender if you want a strong name with Scottish and Irish roots, provided you’re not turned off by the meaning: “misshapen head.”
Another Scottish boy’s name with an interesting meaning (“crooked nose”), Cameron is just as appealing for a girl, thanks to leading lady Cameron Diaz. Other famous namesakes include fellow actor Cameron Boyce, “Modern Family” character Cameron Tucker and director/producer Cameron Crowe.
It’s been a top 100 name for boys since 1987, reaching an all-time high of No. 31 in 2000. Its most popular year for girls was 1999 when it made it to No. 176 — shortly after Diaz hit the big screen in “My Best Friend’s Wedding” and “There’s Something About Mary,” coincidentally.
With a 2018 ranking of No. 31, Dylan may not be the most unusual choice for boys, but it’s certainly not a common pick for girls. It’s a Welsh name meaning “son of the sea” — according to legend, Dylan was a sea god who caused all the waters of Britain and Ireland to weep when he died.
It’s most famous bearer is the poet Dylan Thomas, who inspired Robert Allen Zimmerman’s name change to Bob Dylan. But several celebrity parents have given their daughters the name Dylan, including designer Ralph Lauren, actor Mia Farrow, and actors Robin Wright and Sean Penn.
Leslie, a Scottish place name and common last name that means “garden of holly,” was a top 100 name for boys in the early 1900s. It remained popular until the mid-70s but then started its decline. On the other hand, Leslie for girls has been in the top 1,000 for the last 100 years and in the top 200 for most of the last 50 of them.
Traditionally, the girl’s spelling was Lesley, but these days, anything goes. Famous female Leslies include actress Leslie Mann and Leslie Howard Bogart, Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart’s daughter (who was named after Bogart’s friend, actor Leslie Howard).
Before the 1990s, Addison was far more common for boys (it means “son of Adam”), but by the mid-90s, it began to grow in popularity for girls, shooting up the chart until it reached an all-time high of No. 11 in 2007.
It then started to lose traction, but remains a very sought-after choice, ranking at No. 35 in 2018. On the other hand, Addison fell out of the top 1,000 for boys in 2010.
As well as being a trendy “occupation name” (it means “keeper of the park”), Parker is a gender-neutral name that’s on the rise for both sexes. It’s been a solid choice for boys for more than 100 years, staying in the top 100 since 2009 and reaching a high of No. 72 in 2015.
Actress Parker Posey has helped the name rise steadily up the girls' name chart over the last 20 years.
Originally a Native American name meaning “friendly one,” Dakota has enjoyed the spotlight in recent years thanks to Hollywood stars Dakota Fanning and Dakota Johnson, but it’s equally celebrated for boys.
And if you want to name your son or daughter after a state, you check two boxes with this one. Although both versions remain in the top 400, they are gradually slipping down the charts.
The name Emerson, meaning “child of Emery,” may have been inspired by the writer, poet and thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson. Although it’s still common for boys — it ranked No. 281 in 2018 — it’s definitely on the up for girls, breaking into the top 1,000 in 2002, rising consistently, and overtaking the boy’s chart position to reach No. 143 in 2018.
“Desperate Housewives” star Teri Hatcher and producer/writer/director powerhouse Shonda Rhimes both have daughters named Emerson.
The “nature name” River may be forever linked to the late actor River Phoenix, but it’s an increasingly popular choice for baby girls, partly thanks to singer Kelly Clarkson giving her daughter the name in 2014.
Since then, it’s continued to climb the girls; chart, reaching an all-time top spot of No. 244 in 2018 and inching ever closer to the boys' chart position, which was No. 197 that year. Actress Keri Russell and musician Taylor Hanson both have sons named River.