Among the hot baby naming trends to watch for this year is the wild growth of gender neutral names. There are so many reasons to love them — which is why they’ve been rapidly catching on for the past few years — but maybe the best reason is that they don’t box the bearer into a certain gender mold the way that names such as Maverick and Juliette do.
This trend makes sense in other ways, too. Statistics have shown that baby names tend to experience a resurgence in popularity every hundred years or so, and in the 1920s, traditionally “boy” names for girls such as Frankie and Billie were all the rage. (And if the name Billie Eilish rings a bell, you can see why we’re looking at Billie, especially, to make a very strong comeback this year.)
No longer does this upbeat-sounding name have to be a diminutive of the masculine Steven (or Stephen); singer Stevie Nicks brought it to pop culture as a female standalone name, and it’s been on a steady rise up the Social Security baby name popularity charts for the past four years. Of course, today’s parents may be naming their little Stevie after Stevie Budd on Schitt’s Creek.
Once a nickname for Jeremy, now often seen as a diminutive of Remington, Remy is a cute name in its own right (and your little Remy will love sharing a name with the main character of Disney’s Ratatouille).
Look no further than actress Blake Lively for proof that this is no longer only “wearable” on boys. In fact, Blake Lively passed the gender-neutral name torch to her own daughter when she named her James.
This name is most often associated with male pro-basketball star Kyrie Irving, but its proximity to names like Kylie make it perfectly suitable for girls, too.
While names like Kinley and Brynlee sound more distinctly feminine, Finley maintains its distance from being “girly.” Maybe in part because its diminutive, Finn, sounds a lot like Flynn — a name which is almost exclusively masculine (at least for now!).
While most gender neutral names are crossovers from male to female, Tatum is one of the rare exceptions. It’s actually a surname (hi, Channing Tatum!), but actress Tatum O’Neal brought it into the spotlight as a girl’s name. It jumped onto the boys’ top 1000 most popular in 2010, and is currently at #533 for boys and #418 for girls.
Another rising surname-turned-first-name, Landry hits the gender neutral sweet spot. Its “Lan-” beginning could be seen as masculine, like Landon or Lance, while the “Y” ending softens it a bit, making it a hit down the middle.
This name incorporates several desirable qualities into one trendy package. First, it’s a nature name (indigo is a plant used to make a deep blue-purple dye), and those are experiencing a watch-worthy upswing. Second, it boasts the cute, short nickname Indy. Third — and the reason it’s perfect for this list — it doesn’t skew strongly either way in terms of gender.
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Sutton is a surname too, and as a first name, is most notably associated with actress Sutton Foster. But it shares an ending with other gender neutral names, like Ashton.
Isn’t it fascinating how one little letter can change the entire meaning and “sway” of a name? If we were to add an E and make this into Heaven, it would sound overwhelmingly female (even though, oddly enough, it rhymes with classic boy names like Evan). But Haven has no gender association whatsoever, which makes it perfect for this list.
Is it the “Kam-” beginning, which sounds so much like another gender neutral name we love, Cameron? Or the “i” ending that is traditionally feminine? Or the fact that Ari can be such a cute and totally gender neutral nickname — even lengthened a bit to Mari for a girl? Whatever the reason, Kamari is versatile and works for both boys and girls.
The similar-sounding Bailey has been on the gender neutral names radar for years, but this one sounds fresher somehow — like an updated version.
With this one, we’re reminded a little bit of Lindsay: once a male name, now largely considered to be exclusively female. This brings in the same beginning as Lindsay or Linda, but with the typically-male “-en” ending like Aiden or Holden.
Again, as nature names start to enjoy their time in the pop culture spotlight, River is a standout gender neutral pick, considering that it doesn’t contain any elements that seem traditionally feminine or masculine.
For guys, gals, and nonbinary pals, gender neutral names are where it’s at — and they’re definitely going to be big this year. Give your little one the gift of a name that will work for whatever type of person they choose to be.
Need baby naming advice, or want to know more about a name meaning? Check out Scary Mommy’s baby naming section!