America’s Top Ten Unisex
Baby Names 2005
In a popular baby naming book published in 1999, the authors wrote that “in the United States…unisex baby naming grows only more popular every year.” But does it? The answer, based on recent data, is no. Comparing data from 1995 to 2005, (the latest year for which official data is currently available), unisex naming has actually fallen by about 23% in the United States.
To perform our study of unisex, or androgynous names, we considered a name to be unisex if it appeared on the list of the Top 1000 most popular baby names both for boys and girls, using Social Security Administration data. We use this data because it’s the only authoritative source, besides Census data, covering the entire United States. Data that is based on polls or surveys often bears little resemblance to the actual baby naming habits of millions of Americans.
To determine the popularity of a unisex name, it is not representative to simply add up the raw numbers of babies, both male and female, who are given that name. If you did, then Ryan would be the top unisex name, due to its huge popularity among boys, but Ryan is a name that is mostly male, with just a few female adherents. A popular unisex name should, by definition, be one that is popular with both sexes.
Our method was to place names in “bands,” or ranges, so we can see where both male and female usage of a name is popular. Band 1 is the top 100; band 2 the top 200, and so on. When there is more than one name in a band, then we used actual raw numbers to rank those names.
According to the latest data, the most popular unisex baby name in America is Jordan. The names Alexis and Angel round out the top three unisex names. To the right are the top ten unisex names as of 2005 in the United States:
As you can see, 4 of the 10, Angel, Jayden, Cameron, and Jaden, tilt sharply toward male usage. Three names, Alexis, Taylor, and Avery lean clearly female, while Jordan and Riley are popular names for both boys and girls.
It’s also interesting to note that except for Jayden and its variant Jaden, all the names in the top ten were also top 1000 unisex names in 1995. They are, it seems, stubbornly androgynous.
It’s often said that unisex names end up as girls’ names. While there is some evidence of this in the numbers we looked at, it doesn’t always hold true. In fact, of the 30 or so names that were unisex in 1995 but not in 2005, more of them had moved to the boy’s side of the table, rather than the girl’s.
To see the full list of unisex names from 2005, and discover how androgynous names shifted over a ten year period, check out the page Unisex Baby Names.
For the most recent information about unisex baby names, see our main unisex baby names page.