Friday, June 12, 2015

Top 10 Unisex Baby Names in 2014

Last month we discovered which names were most favored by America in 2014. As you know, Emma and Noah were ranked at #1.  Have you ever wondered which unisex names are the most popular?

The SSA doesn't make a separate list for unisex names. It's up to us to determine which names are used for both boys and girls.

If you saw my previous article regarding the boy-to-girl ratios of every unisex name within the Top 1000, you'll see that some names are used more often for one gender than the other, yet some names are very evenly used.

So how can we determine which unisex names are the most popular based on this information?

Since there are two genders, it's a bit complicated to determine the exact popularity, especially since I was taking into account the boy-to-girl ratios of the names, the number of births for each gender, and the rank assigned to the names by the Social Security Administration..

While determining which unisex names are the most popular across the genders, my dilemma was whether or not to include the barely-unisex names like Logan (94% male) or Harper (97% female). In the end, I did include those.

I ranked the Top 10 Unisex Names of 2014 based on the list of names and their data from my previous article. All data ultimately came straight from the SSA's list.

There was much debate and number crunching, but I chose to simplify things by averaging the sum of boy/girl ranks with the "most popular" names having the smallest numbers. Here's the top 10 that I came up with:

1. Avery
In every data crunching method that I toyed with, Avery was without a doubt the most-used unisex name by both genders. At #13 for girls and #186 for boys, Avery is definitely popular. It comes from a surname that may have been derived from either Alberich or Alfred, both names having a meaning related to elves. Because of that, Avery is generally said to mean "Elf Ruler".

2. Riley
Our second most popular unisex name is Riley which also comes from a surname. It actually has two origins. As an Irish surname, it's a variant of Reilly whose meaning is unknown; and as an English surname, it comes from a place name that refers to a "rye clearing". In 2014, Riley ranked at #47 for girls and #173 for boys.

3. Peyton
Between Peyton and Payton, this name is getting a lot of usage for girls. However, the boys still like it too. Peyton in particular is 71% girl but when you average both ranks, it becomes our #3 unisex name.  It came in at #56 for girls and #210 for boys which are respectable ranks! Peyton comes from an English surname which came from a place name meaning "Paega's town".

4. Jordan
Both Jordan and Jordyn have usage as unisex names within the Top 1000. While Jordyn is 91% girl, Jordan is 84% boy. Since we are only considering Jordan here as our #4 unisex name, it's interesting to note that it ranked at #55 for boys and #247 for girls. This name is generally based on the Jordan River near Israel.

5. Parker
This one surprised me a bit. It feels very masculine but it is being given to girls with increased frequency now. 20% of all Parkers born in 2014 were female, which is up from 17% in 2013. It ranked at #73 for boys and #235 for girls last year!  Parker is an English occupational surname that refers to a "keeper of the park".

6. Hayden
From an English surname, Hayden is derived from place names meaning "hay valley" or "hay hill". This name has a decent split of 63% boy and 37% girl. It ranks at #142 for boys and #199 for girls which makes them both reasonably popular. That's why this name is our #6 unisex name for 2014!

7. Angel
Following closely behind Hayden in terms of the rank averages, Angel is well used for both genders primarily in the Hispanic community.  It's more popular for a boy with 84% of all Angels being male. It ranks at #67 for boys and #275 for girls in 2014. The name is based on the heavenly creatures and means "messenger" in Greek.

8. Alexis
From a Greek name meaning "defender", Alexis is our 8th most popular unisex name in 2014. It ranks higher for girls at #64 but the boys hold their own at #302. The boys actually gained 2% from 2013 in the boy-to-girl ratio of usage.

9. Logan
This name is predominantly used by boys and ranked at #13 in 2014 with over 13 thousand births. However, it also ranked at #391 for girls which is actually quite high despite there being only 828 female births. Logan is unisex even though it has a 94/6 boy-to-girl ratio.  It is a surname meaning "little hollow" which relates to a place in Scotland.

10. Dylan
Similar to Logan, this name has a 93/7 boy-to-girl ratio. Dylan came in at #29 for boys in 2014 while it ranked #394 for girls. In the end, there were over 10 thousand male Dylans and just over 800 females.  This Welsh name meaning "great tide" ranks at #10 on this list!

What do you think of my top 10 list? Would you have crunched the numbers differently? If so, share your methods in the comments below! 

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