There is a plethora of names for parents to choose from when considering what to call a child. Many parents assign traditionally masculine or feminine names to their children depending on their gender.
However, others opt for names that can be attributed to either male or female children. These types of names are considered gender-neutral or androgynous. They can be used for either boys or girls and do not easily determine the gender of a child when looking at the name itself.
Androgynous names have different origin stories. Some were originally used as a boys or girls names but have lost their gender-specific identity over time while others have gained popularity in use for both boys and girls.
Alternatively, some names were inspired by cities, nature or ideas and are not associated with gender at all. Continue reading below to learn more about the gender-neutral names, how they originated and what the most popular current androgynous names are.
What Makes a Name Androgynous
Not everyone unanimously agrees that certain names are gender-neutral. This can be due to the associations that people have with certain names. However, androgynous names are generally those that have been used as both girls’ and boys’ names and thus, are no longer associated with a specific gender.
In the English language, feminine and masculine names are typically differentiated by their endings. Names that are have been traditionally used for girls tend to end in “a”, “ey”, “ie”, “ee” and “ine.” For example, Christine is a name typically used for girls while Christopher is the male version typically used for boys. In addition, names related to flowers or plants such as Ivy, Holly and Daisy are also considered feminine.
On the other hand, names that do not carry any gender connotations are also considered androgynous. This is where parents can be more creative in their name choices and draw inspiration from a number of sources.
For instance, cities typically are not associated with gender. Thus, both boys and girls can be named Dallas, London, Phoenix or Hudson. Additionally, some parents find inspiration in nature and name their children things like Clover, Moon, Sage or Rain.
Origins of Unisex Names
Different androgynous names have different origins. Many names, such as Addison and Billie, were once used predominantly for boys. Overtime, families began using them for daughters for various reasons.
Furthermore, the same name can be used for different genders in different cultures and the blending of those cultures changed the connotations of those names. For instance, the name Ariel, which means “lion of God”, is a Hebrew name that is primarily assigned to boys. However, in the movie “The Little Mermaid,” Ariel was used as a girl’s name.
While many other countries do not practice or permit families giving children unisex names, certain countries do name children without considering gender.
For instance, many African cultures involve naming children after events or circumstances in the family’s home. For Ayodele is a gender-neutral name that means “joy has come home.” Additionally, children names reflect moods or feelings. For instance, a child born during a happy time can be named Akatendeka which means faithful.
However, in other countries like Iceland and Denmark, it is unlawful to give children gender-neutral names. Furthermore, there is a registrar of appropriate names in Germany.
While many names evolved over time to be suited to both boys and girls, nowadays parents simply create name or pick words that make gender categorizing difficult. Some families select neutral names like Apple, Reign or Justice while others go against the grain and give their child a name that is traditionally considered opposite of their gender.
Top 30 Gender Neutral Names