Boy and Girl on beach
Boy and Girl on beach via Flickr by anyjazz65

During preparations for last month’s March Madness tournament, I faced one particular quandary: what to do with unisex names?

The brackets are neatly divided by masculine and feminine.  My first impulse was to class these names but what I understood them to be – but if I’m honest, I think all eight work equally well for either a boy or a girl.

I thought of just throwing them in based on the preferences of the reader who originally made the request, or maybe based on the prevailing sentiment in the comments.  But that wasn’t always clear.  And I imagined scores of “I would have voted for X, except I really only like it for a boy …” comments.

Alas, the only course of action was to remove these eight names from the running, and instead share them here.

The eight most popular unisex names on Appellation Mountain, both by number of page views and search terms, is as follows:

  1. Indigo
  2. Rowan
  3. Indie
  4. Ever
  5. Calyx
  6. Arden
  7. Orly
  8. Blue

Since the winners of the tournament tend to be fairly traditional, I think these would have been knocked out in the first round!  What do you think?  Would you have mixed them in, or do they deserve their own category?

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. I just named my daughter Rowan (she’s 2 months old) and I get SO many compliments on her name! i love it for a girl. Many people assume she’s a boy though when only seeing the name in writing. And many people know Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean) which doesn’t help. I got the name from Brooke Shields who has a daughter named Rowan too.

  2. I think unisex names should have their own separate category next time around.

    Rowan has been longstanding on my list as a choice for a boy. I also love Indigo for a boy, with the nickname Indie. It’s one of the more “guilty pleasure”-ish names I’d seriously consider.

  3. The list surprises me because they are all fairly uncommon names and I wouldn’t have considered some of them unisex…Ever & Calyx are all girl to me, and Orly is all boy. I love Indy/Indie for either gender and though I can see Rowan and Arden for both, I prefer them for boys.

    Maybe next year their should be a third category for unisex names?

  4. Definitely need their own separate category. I really like Arden, but indie makes me think of indie music and indie movies.

    1. i’ve got a rowan; his name was chosen when i was 2 months pregnant and we didn’t know whether he was a boy or a girl. i LOVE his name and love unisex names – our other 2 have them too.

  5. I love the sound of Orly, but to me it reads the same as naming your kid ‘rofl’ or ‘lol’. ORLY= oh really.

  6. I think it was a good idea to have them separate like this. Maybe next year give them their own bracket, if you’ve profiled enough of them.

  7. I like Rowan and Indie for a boy and Ever and Indie for a girl.
    Indiana nn Indie for a boy.
    India nn Indie for a girl.