THE NEW GENDER-NEUTRAL
These are the unisex names currently topping the popularity stakes
Britain’s most popular genderneutral name means ‘valiant’. Though more commonly encountered as a surname, designer Stella McCartney named her daughter Reiley in 2010, and it has since rocketed in popularity. Last year, just under two-thirds of babies registered with the name Riley were boys, and just over a third girls.
Once considered just a nickname for boys named Francis and girls called Frances, Frankie is now having a moment in its own right. Though its original meaning is ‘frenchman’, just under two-thirds of the Frankies born in 2017 were girls, and just over a third were boys.
Deriving from the Old English words for ‘hare’ and ‘meadow’ (and so translating roughly as ‘Hare’s Meadow’), Harley last year proved the name with the most even gender-split: 51 per cent of babies named Harley were boys, and 49 per cent girls.
Thought to have originated as an Old English nickname for those who were either very dark or very pale in complexion, 67 per cent of last year’s Blakes were boys, while 33 per cent were girls.
Analysts suggest that the surge in this name’s popularity, and that of Harley as well, was linked to superhero film Suicide Squad and its super- villain Harley Quinn. Last year, 32 per cent of babies with the name were boys, 68 per cent were girls.
In the UK, the name has traditionally been associated with men – think comic Rowan Atkinson. But the name, suggestive of the red-berry bearing Rowan tree, has recently been appropriated by girls too. Thirtythree per cent of last year’s babies named Rowan were girls.
Jamie and Jools Oliver may have sparked the trend for this one, naming their son River Rocket in 2016. The balance has now tipped, however, as 65 per cent of babies given the name last year were girls.
Derived from an Indian word meaning ‘divine’, this name was split almost 50/50 between the sexes last year – 48 per cent were boys and 52 per cent girls.
An English name that means ‘pleasant wood’ or ‘meadow’, most of the famous Marleys have had theirs as a surname. Think Bob Marley, and Jacob Marley in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Last year, however, it was most popular for girls (70 per cent).
This name originated as an Old English surname, meaning ‘bailiff’. Now it’s become one of the UK’s favourite gender-neutral first names: 58 per cent of babies named Bailey are boys, and 42 per cent girls.