Saturday, October 04, 2014

What Is a Unisex Name?

In case you missed it, Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis had a baby this week and named her Wyatt.

According to People magazine, the couple really likes "unisex names" and that's why they settled on a traditional boys' name for their daughter.

Wyatt Earp
Now, I think people can call their kids anything like they like and I have no issues with Wyatt for a girl. But I question the terminology here. Wyatt is not a unisex name.

I checked the Social Security database, and Wyatt was given to boys 99.8 percent of the time in 2013.

A good rule of thumb is if a name was given to less than 90 percent of one gender, then it's unisex. (Elliot qualifies, incidentally. It's 83 percent male.) Nameberry had a handy post on this topic last year.

You could argue that certain names have a historical unisex status. Take Lindsey/Lindsay, which used to be a boys' name. It is now 99 percent female, but I still think it counts as unisex.

Wyatt isn't historically a unisex name and it isn't one now.

So here's my message to celebrity parents: Feel free to name your kids whatever, but don't corrupt the language in the process.