All the Best Gender-Neutral Names for Your Baby
Gender-neutral baby names are so of-the-moment. They speak to a shift in gender norms and a rise in androgynous choices for littles. As big-box retailers are presenting toys and clothing more and more for their actual attributes and styles rather than simply assigning them boy/girl labels, the zeitgeist seems to be catching on, and captured in baby name trends as well.
Furthermore, gender-neutral names just sound cool. They level the playing field in kindergarten and later on the job search, as these names stand out for their unique effects rather than a female or male connotation attached to them. Gender-neutral names are a hot trend from Hollywood to Main Street, making waves with crossovers like Hunter and Maxwell, and standing firm in the classics like Dylan and Ryan.
But gender-neutral names aren’t just a trend—parents have been selecting monikers that work for a baby of either sex for centuries. Some of the names on our list are so old-fashioned, you may never have heard of them or at least won’t be aware they’re considered gender neutral. Others were big in the 1980s and ‘90s and are poised as comeback kids alongside claw hair clips and wide-legged jeans. A third set of gender-neutral name choices, of the Emerson and Parker variety, have burst out of near obscurity into chart-topper status of late.
So, what’s the best gender-neutral name for your baby? Take a look at our favorites and let us know which ones you love.
Alex: Short for Alexander/dra, or just on its own, this is a classic gender-neutral name of Greek origins meaning “defending men.”
Alva: Chances are, you haven’t heard this rare gender-neutral name much. It has two meanings, as an anglicized version of Ailbhe or “white” from the Irish, and with the Hebrew version translating to “his highness.”
Ashley: An oldie and such a goodie, it means “dweller by the ash tree meadow” with English roots.
Avery: This was America's #1 gender-neutral name choice for 2020, with the adorable meaning “ruler of the elves.”
Blair: It sounds posh and elegant, while also being brief and concise. The Scottish name means “dweller on the plain.”
Blake: A favorite for decades, it’s likely that the actress Blake Lively brought it back on the scene for girls since her rise to stardom.
Bodhi: The Sanskrit name has become a surprisingly popular choice among preppy parents, with the exalted meaning “awakening” or “enlightenment.”
Campbell: If you can get past the awkward meaning (“crooked mouth”), this Irish gender-neutral name is in that country’s top 10; shows up often as a surname; and has a generally familiar and inviting feel.
Carter: It’s funnily one of those names with a very specific meaning that has almost no bearing on its modern popularity, but this one (“transporter of goods by cart”) is still a relevant and cute choice for a baby girl or boy.
Casey: Definitely more popular in the 1980s and 90s than it is today, this comfy-cool name means “brave in battle” from the Irish.
Charlie: It can be short for Charlotte or Charles, but this cute baby girl or boy nickname meaning “free man” is just as good when given as a proper name.
Clem: More commonly heard in the UK than the States, it’s a diminutive of Clement (or Clementine!) and a standalone gender-neutral name option to consider. The meaning is “mild or merciful.”
Drew: When a one-syllable name packs this much punch, it bears consideration. The diminutive of Andrew (“strong, manly”) feels just as natural when given to a girl.
Dylan: The Welsh name translating to “son of the sea” is classically gender-neutral and a strong option for a boy or girl.
Emerson: Resting comfortably inside the US top 20 for unisex names, the German family name (“son of Emery”) is warm and flowy.
Elliot: High on the lists for gender-neutral baby names, this cutie means “Jehovah is God” and has numerous nickname and spelling possibilities if you are feminizing it for a little girl and want something different (Elliotte, Ellie, etc).
Finley: This Irish baby name ranks high at home and abroad; it translates to “fair-haired hero."
Florian: Any time you can nail down a boy-friendly flower name, it’s worth consideration. The Latin moniker meaning “flowering” is a nice compromise if you’d like something nature-based but also refined and able to sway masculine.
Greer: Popular since medieval times, the one-syllable gender-neutral name has cool-kid written all over it. It means “alert” and “watchful” of Latin roots.
Harbor: A nice change-up from the very popular Harper (which is also considered gender-neutral!), this word name is still considered rare, but slowly on the rise for boys and girls.
Hayden: It’s a charming gender-neutral name choice that’s very of-the-moment among the popular Aiden, Jayden, and similar. This one has multiple meanings, all from English roots: “fire, hay field, little hill.”
Hunter: Traditionally more popular for boys, this edgy word name is creeping up in the rankings for girls now, too, and we’re here for it.
James: The well-loved boys’ name is of Hebrew origins, a version of Jacob (“the supplanter”). James is having a major moment with little girls despite centuries of use for mostly boys.
Jordan: A place name for the River Jordan, a nod to the great Michael for sports fans, or just an effortlessly cool gender-neutral name for your baby? You pick. Jordan means “flowing down” from the Hebrew.
Kai: This is a mercurial baby name having multiple roots and meanings. In the States, it’s known as a Hawaiian name meaning “sea.” The monosyllablic favorite is also attributed to the Japanese (“shell”), the German indigenous people known as the Frisians (a shortening of their name Kaimbe, or “warrior”), and of mixed European roots (Welsh, Scandinavian) with the translation “keeper of the keys.” That’s a long history for a short name, making it extra special.
Kennedy: The storied family name, which many Americans consider our own closest version to royalty, makes a beautiful first name for a baby boy or girl.
Kingsley: A newer kid on the block, this English surname meaning “king’s meadow” is a royally good pick for a little one of either gender.
Lane: It has an old-fashioned, dignified air, and yet the familiar and sweet meaning of a “little road” or “pathway.”
Linden: Gender-neutral nature names are in hot demand, and this one belonging to a tree could be your perfect match.
Logan: A casual standby that’s been used for babies of both sexes for decades, it’s actually a Scottish surname meaning “little hollow.”
Maxwell: Long revered as a posh name for baby boys, the Scottish name meaning “great stream” is a crossover that seems to continue rising for both sexes.
Micah: Beloved in Jewish communities for years, the Hebrew name translates to “one who is like the Lord.”
Morgan: Another surname that makes for an optimal gender-neutral name idea, it is of Welsh origin meaning “sea-born.”
Neo: It’s one of those names that gets instant, “Aw!” reactions, but will sound grownup and edgy in later years. Neo means “new” from the Latin and “gift” of Tswana / South African roots.
Noah: While the girls’ version is typically spelled Noa, we’re putting this soft and wholesome Biblical name idea on the list in its original spelling. It means “rest, repose,” and also “movement,” while representing the well-loved story about the keeper of the animals.
Oakley: A modern favorite of English origin, it means “oak clearing” or “wooded area.”
Olive: Food names for babies are a fun trend, and this gender-neutral option doesn’t disappoint.
Parker: It’s resting comfortably in the US top five for unisex names, featuring a jaunty feel. Parker means “park-keeper” but is likely chosen more often for its sound than meaning.
Peyton: Whether spelled with an “a” or “e” in the second position, this one is going strong, holding strong in the 13th spot for gender-neutral names of 2020 after decades of popular use. It means “fighting-man’s estate.”
Phoenix: The symbolism of this fiery name is too good to pass up. It is also a color name meaning “dark red” from the Greek, which would prove a gorgeous twin baby name choice when paired with Scarlet, Carmen, or Rowan (which is also on this list…)
Quinn: Short and storied, the Irish chief or “intelligence” name is a perfectly pert pick for a little girl or boy.
Reese: Currently ranked among the top 30 popular gender-neutral baby names in the US, the popular spelling variation on the Welsh name Rhys is a winner. Reese means “ardor,” for a name filled with passion.
Remi/y: Gender-neutral R names could have their own lengthy list, and here’s another one to love. Remi means “oarsman” from the French.
Riley: The second most popular gender-neutral name last year has been a favorable choice for decades. Riley means “courageous” of English roots.
River: A top-10 pick for babies of both genders, this flowing nature name is sure to make a splash.
Rowan: As mentioned above, it’s a lovely color name for a deep shade of red. Shortening adorably to Rowie or Row, it’s effortlessly gender-neutral and charming.
Ryan: The stalwart manages to remain at #3 for US gender-neutral names, despite having already had a major heyday in the 1980s. Meaning “little king,” it’s poised to never go out of favor.
Ryder: Yet another R name for our gender-neutral list, this is a word name in motion.
Sawyer: Plucked right out of the US top 10, it’s a warm and inviting name that seems to tell a story. The name means “wood-cutter.”
Scout: This famed word name picked up speed after its use in the revered 1960 novel To Kill a Mockingbird, and while not wildly popular, it is familiar enough to feel relevant for modern parents.
Sidney: In a sea of trendy names, sometimes the oldest ones are the very best for your family. This French saint’s name is classy and will feel unique on a child born in the era of Rileys and Hunters.
Skyler: A modernized spelling of the old-school Schuyler, this version has sky/nature vibes but shares the original meaning, too: “scholar.”
Sloane: We love a solid one-syllable name, and this gender-neutral option is a head-turner. It means “raider” of Irish roots.
Taylor: Unlike some names that were more gendered originally and have crossed over, Taylor has been equally loved for boys and girls for decades. It’s an English occupational name meaning, not surprisingly, “tailor,” as in: of clothes.
Wesley: The English name meaning “western meadow” is soft and elegant, perfect for a baby boy or girl.
Whitney: This one has a society feel, moving back and forth between being favored for girls vs. boys throughout the years. It’s a lovely tribute to the late singer Houston, or just a handsome-sounding name for your little one. Whitney means “white island.”
Wren: The bird name is gathering steam with baby girls and boys; it’s classic, inviting, and feels modern all at the same time.
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