It’s no secret that we love baby names — so when we heard about a new study from NetCredit delving into the most-loved gender-neutral baby names of the past century, we had to find out more. The study comes from data sourced from the Social Security Administration (SSA) on birth names registered to both biologically male and female children each year during the last 100 years. And the results may just surprise you (they definitely surprised us).
Did you know that nearly 70,000 babies received gender-neutral names in 2015? That’s fully 60% more than the last decade — and an 88% leap since 1985. But don’t be fooled into thinking gender-neutral names are new: androgynous names have been on the books since, well, books recording babies’ names existed. Don’t believe us? Just ask Ardell, Laverne and Marion.
The main GIF below shows each state’s most popular unisex name for the past decade, year by year:
Starting in 1910, the map’s sprinkling of Almas, Alvas, Carmens, Merles, Billies, Willies, Jessies, Johnnies, Pats, Lees, Robins and Guadalupes eventually morphs into an array of Danas, Lynns, Gales, Gails and Leslies by the mid-50s. The map then shifts into an array of Kendalls and Caseys and Jordans and Taylors and Rileys and Peytons and Dakotas and Sawyers and Angels by the late 2010s. (We admit it: We’re kind of mesmerized.)
The names Casey, Jesse and Riley were the top three unisex names in terms of how often they appeared since 1910 in the SSA data. And Casey is the No. 1 moniker overall, starting off as a traditional boy’s name, then getting swiped by girls in the 1960s and since. The name has been at the top of the unisex chart 414 times between 1910 and 2018 — and we think it’s time it made a comeback. We think a lot of these, actually, deserve a comeback: Garnett and Cleo, anyone?
Other true American unisex stars over the years, according to the study: Finley, Charlie, Hayden, Laverne, Kelly, Tracy, and Terry.
These days, there are plenty of gender-neutral name options that haven’t yet made the charts, but we’re betting they will down the line. We’re thinking of Carson, Madison, Brooklyn, Harper, Scout, Lane, Lark and Syd — and pretty much anything you can think of without a flouncy Southern-belle ending like –etta or –ecia. Billie Eilish’s parents were very on-trend, just saying.
Aside from being just plain interesting to those who are addicted to all things baby name-related, this study — and GIF map — provides helpful history for those who are seeking out unisex options for their infants. It’s good news and good info in a decade where gender-fluid and trans kids are finally being recognized and celebrated as they are. Very cool.
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