Elementary schools are filling with Madisons, Morgans, Logans, Hunters and Mackenzies — names that could belong to boys or girls. Those were some of the top 100 American baby names in 2001.
Androgyny is just one baby naming trend that's on the rise, says Laura Wattenberg of BabyNameWizard.com. Old Testament names, like Isaac and Zacharia, and last names used as first names are also enjoying great popularity, Wattenberg says.
Historically, girls' names have often emerged from boys' names, often as a nickname, like Bobbi or Frankie. But, says Wattenberg, it almost never works in reverse; you'll rarely see girls' names turning into boys' names. Typically, she says, there's a tipping point: once there are enough female Ashleys or Courtneys, there won't be many boys with those names. "Parents have never wanted that," she says.
Right now, that's a little tougher to notice, Wattenberg says, because there are simply so many new names being made up for both boys and girls at such a fast pace. "Today's androgynous girl's name isn't likely to be a shift on a boy's name," she says. "We're using some of the same names for both."
It used to be that popular boys' names changed little over time. John, James and Michael were long-term favorites. But today, people are less likely to choose formerly classic names.
There still are popular names, she says, but they represent a much smaller piece of the total pie. "Jacob and Emily are still at the top," says Wattenberg, "but they're just a tiny fraction as popular as John and Mary once were."