Boys’ baby names and girls’ baby names aren’t always so black and white—and in fact, monikers often shift sides over the generations. Check out these names that once were strictly for the boys, before they became associated, big-time, with girls.
Giving a baby girl a traditional boy baby name has been a thing for centuries—long before the recent celebrity trend of naming girls ‘James.’ In fact, it’s been so prevalent that some “boy” baby names have crossed the aisle completely, and are now squarely associated with girls (at least for now). Among them:
Ashley If you’re a fan of Margaret Mitchell’s sweeping Old South epic Gone With the Wind you know that Scarlett spends most of the book pining after the dashing boy next door Ashley. But by the 1960s, the dashing English name that means “by the ash trees” had become more popular for ladies—and it even became the top name for girls in the early 1990s.
Avery It took a long time for Avery to cross over to the ladies’ side—it finally hit the majority for girls in the late 1990s. While it’s still in the top 200 names for boys, it’s currently a top 15 name for girls.
Allison It’s hard to believe that there was a time when this name was big for boys, but through the 1930s it was in the top 1000. It started its run for the top in the 1940s for girls, and has been a top 100 favorite since the 1970s.
Aubrey Now a top 20 name for girls, Aubrey, which means elf ruler, was more popular for boys through the 1970s.
Beverly It’s been more than a century since Beverly was considered a boys’ name—which is why you may not see any men sporting it until way back in your family tree. It’s currently also outside the top 1000 for girls at the moment, but could be ready for a comeback.
Blair You can thank 1980s sitcom Facts of Life for helping to tip the scales toward the girls’ side for this lovely Scottish name. After its premiere, Blair was solidly a girls’ name, currently in the top 700 names.
Carol This variation on Charles used to be a boys’ name—in fact, Pope John Paul II was born Karol. But it became a girls’ name before the turn of the 20th century, and quickly became the one of the most popular in the 1930s and 1940s.
Dana The tipping point for this name came in the 1950s, which explains why men like Dana Carvey still bear it—along with women like Queen Latifah. It’s a charming name that means “from Denmark.”
Darcy Darcy’s claim to fame may be Jane Austen’s dashing nobleman hero from Pride and Prejudice, but the name has been squarely in the girls column since the 1940s.
Gale Despite the fact that Katniss’s BFF/love interest in The Hunger Games sported this once manly name, which means “my father rejoices,” it’s still 100 percent for the girls in current times.
Hilary This Greek name means cheerful, and was a boys’ name until the mid 1940s—and now is famously linked with former First Lady/Secretary of State and current Presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton.
Lindsay Thanks to troubled celebrity Lindsay Lohan, the name is falling out of favor for girls, too, but it lost curry for boys back in the 1960s. It means “island of linden trees.”
Lynn This common middle name for girls has a poetic meaning—lake—and was a boys’ name until the 1940s, when it went to the girls’ side for good.
Meredith This sweet name, which means “great ruler,” was one of the very first crossovers—it headed to the girls’s side permanently back in the 1920s.
Morgan Actress Morgan Fairchild helped popularize this name, which means ocean, back in the 1980s. It’s currently just outside the top 100 names for girls.
Quinn This Celtic name with a regal meaning—ruler—is actually still relatively popular for boys, but more girls were given it recently, thanks to the queen bee of the McKinley High cheerleading squad on Glee.
Reagan It may mean “little king,” but Reagan has been more popular for girls since the 1970s, thanks to spooky classic The Exorcist. (The Shakespeare King Lear tie-in doesn’t hurt, either.)
Sandy Sandy shifted from boys to girls during the 1930s—right around the time the lead character from the musical Grease would have been born. It’s usually a nickname for Sandra.
Sydney The Australian capital was a popular boys’ name until it crossed permanently to the girls’ side in the 1940s.
Taylor Given the popularity of Taylor Swift, expect that this one-time boys’ stalwart will remain on the girls’ side permanently.
Vivian While still sometimes used for boys in England, this Latin name that means “life” is only for girls in the U.S.
Whitney While Whitney started going to the boys in the 1960s, it permanently crossed the aisle in the early 1970s—and pop diva Whitney Houston has sealed the deal.