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Unisex names have become popular in the United States. This article explains how a list of data was compiled and calculated from 2005. Unisex names are constantly shifting and depending on popularity, can switch from one gender column to another.

From Jordan to Jaden - America's Top Ten Unisex Baby Names

Whether by design or accident, parents sometimes choose a unisex baby name for their child. A unisex name, sometimes called "androgynous," is one that is popular with both boys and girls. While some parents might not be concerned at all, others may be distressed to learn that their little boy Riley might be presumed female by a kindergarten teacher scanning a new class list.

Although other countries have restrictions on names that jump genders, there is no law against it in the United States. Here, parents are free to use girl's names for boys and vice versa. And with the growth in unique or creative spelling of names, it is often impossible to know if a name is primarily male or female, or how it may fare in the future.

But it is not among the ranks of made-up names (such as "Jordin") that unisex names always appear. Many androgynous names have been identified with one gender, usually male, for a period of time. Then, along comes a new upswing in popularity, usually on the girl's side of the fence. Girls (or rather their parents) co-opt what used to be boys' names and a new unisex name is born.

When a boy's name starts getting adopted by girls, if it finds a substantial degree of popularity, it usually stays as a girl's name. The name Reese, for example, is a classic boy's name dating back to the 19th century. But now that it has been popularized as a girl's name by the actress Reese Witherspoon, it is unlikely to stray back into boy's territory. A few boy's names, however, including Tyler and Dylan, have retained their male status, despite inroads made by girls in recent years.

Like baby names in general, unisex names are constantly shifting. Names that used to be unisex move into one gender column or the other, while "new" unisex names rise up to fill the gap.

The basic set of data for examining name popularity is annual information from the Social Security Administration, which records the popularity of baby names as indicated by birth registrations. The agency reports the most popular thousand names for each gender every year. By doing a side-by-side comparison, it is possible to see which names are popular with both sexes and to rank them accordingly.

Based on birth registrations for 2005, America's favorite unisex name is Jordan. Here are the top ten unisex names:

  • Jordan
  • Alexis
  • Angel
  • Riley
  • Peyton
  • Taylor
  • Cameron
  • Jayden
  • Avery
  • Jaden

It is impossible to predict which names will remain unisex in the years ahead, and which will move to the girl's camp or the boys'. But for the top four names, it is unlikely they will lose their androgynous appeal anytime soon. Jordan, Alexis, Angel and Riley have all been popular unisex baby names for more than a decade, and may well stay that way.

Article by Neil Street. Neil Street is co-publisher of Baby Names Garden, a website for everyone who loves baby names. He writes frequently on this topic.

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