Parents are using ‘boys’ names’ for their daughters … but there’s a problem

Little girl looking directly into camera

Lots of parents are now pushing back against the perception that certain names are for certain genders, but this loosening up of stereotypes doesn’t seem to be going both ways.

A radical trend

Although the notion of naming a little girl Ezra, Maxwell or Noah is becoming more and more popular, there are very, very few traditional ‘girls’ names’ given to little boys.

Nameberry’s Pamela Redmond Satran says names traditionally thought of as masculine are indeed being given to lots of little girls, sparking a very robust “radical” trend.

Her analysis suggests “an overall radical increase in the number of girls getting these names,” and while it can seem like a revolution, the fact that we’re not seeing boys with girls’ names suggest that gender stereotypes – when it comes to naming babies at least – can only be thrown off if you’re a girl.

For girls, names that are perceived as masculine or not overtly feminine are thought to be adopted because they might herald powerful girls who will define their own path in life. For little boys, however, the chances of being given a ‘girl’s name’ are almost next to none.


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Girls only revolution

The Atlantic went over the data too, and writer Joe Pinsker confirms that  – in stark contrast to the robust ‘boys’ names for girls’ trend – fewer than 17 little boys were given a ‘girl’s name’ in 2017 (and that the figure might even be a little inflated.)

“When I looked at government data myself,” Joe said, “I found that there was a conspicuous trend: Two of the most popular boys’ names in 2017, Noah and James, were given to 170 girls and 77 girls, respectively, that year. But the number of little boys given one of 2017’s top 10 girls’ names was as low as six and no higher than 17, which is so small that it might reflect errors in birth records.”

It says a lot that we’re happy to have ‘masculinely-named’ girls, but ‘femininely-named’ boys are nowhere near as desirable. What is that about?

Preschool aged girl with face painted

Shaking up stereotypes?

New-school girls’ names like James, Lincoln, Hayes and Max are no longer raising so many eyebrows, in part thanks to celebrity mums like Blake Lively, Kristen Bell, Jessica Alba and Jessica Simpson who named their girls thus.

Other names that Nameberry’s Pamela says are roaring up the charts for girls – but were previously mostly given to boys – include:

  • Palmer
  • Ezra
  • Noah
  • August
  • Chandler
  • Jude
  • Luca
  • Ira
  • Maddox

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