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Should the "First" Rule Apply When Using Unisex Baby Names?

Updated on September 3, 2016
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Canita - has been a secretary/receptionist, bookkeeper, teacher and retail store manager. I love writing about the things I'm curious about.

United name
United name | Source

Which Gender Do These Unisex Names fit Best?

The question was recently asked, “Which gender do these unisex names fit best?” This is the list of name given; Ashley, Aubrey, Avery, Bailey, Dylan, Jordan, Morgan, Rowan, and Taylor.


People tend to name their children after people they know and like such as parents, grandparents, friends, TV and movie stars, etc... This is where the II, III and Juniors are added to the names.

50's Baby Name
50's Baby Name | Source

1950 Names

Hippies in the 50’s would name them after nature, “sunshine” or “rain.” Some people like unique names such as; “Juju” or “Darko.” If you are Native American you might use, “Dakota” or “Cloud.”

Unique Baby Name
Unique Baby Name | Source

Unique Baby Names

There are people who have common name such as; “Mary” or “Adam." Some have unique names such as; "Hugg" or "Madd." Some children are named after cities such as “Paris” or a river like “Jordan.” Some are named after jewels such as; "Jade" or "Ruby."

Acronym Names

You can make those middles initial make a name such as, Wheaton Harris Oliver or “WHO.” Make a first and last name make a statement such as, House Martin.

Names with Meanings

The meanings of names such as Elizabeth which is Hebrew and means “oath of God” or “God is satisfaction.”

Named after a country
Named after a country | Source

Originally Surnames

Most names were originally surnames that were turned into given names first/middle.

"First" Defined

The answer lies in the definition of the name and its original use. Merriam-Webster dictionary describes “first” as coming before all others in time, order, or importance. If it was first used for a male it should be considered a male name or vise versa first used as a female name it should be considered a female name.


Ashley means “ash tree meadow.” It is English and was originally used in England during the 16th century as a name for males. In the 20th century in the United States it began being used after the female soap opera star named Ashley Abbot of The Young and the Restless in 1982 came on the scene.


Aubrey is a French name. It is Germanic for “ruler of the elves” or “fair ruler of the little people.” In the 11th through 14th century England it was used as a male name. In the United States in the 20th century is began being used as a female name.


Avery is Old English, medieval name derived from Alfred. Alfred means “counsel.” This name was originally used as a male name.


Bailey means bailiff in English. A bailiff is an officer who performs certain actions under legal authority. Bailey ranks highest as a female name in the world. I was unable to locate whether it was first used as a male or female name.


Dylan is a Welsh or Celtic name meaning “sea,” “tide,” “flow,” or “great tide” It was originally used as a male name.


Jordan is a river and means descend or flow. It is a river found in Israel. The Hebrew name for this river is Yarden. The word Jordan is English or Macedonian. During the 6th century it was used as a male name. In the United States in the 20th century it began being used as a female name.


Morgan has several meanings circling sea, great brightness or bright or white sea dweller. It is Welsh or Old English. In the United States the name became popular when the actress Morgan Fairchild was around in the 1980’s. It was traditionally used as a male name although worldwide it is prominently a female name.


Rowan was first used as a male name. It is Irish and means “son of the red one” or “little red head.” It began being used as a girls name during the 21st century.


Taylor means tailor. A tailor is a person who makes or alters outer garments. The first tailor’s were Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Taylor is a English name and was originally a male name.

Female or Male Origin

Originally Female
Originally Male

My opinion

If I was naming a child, I believe, I would stay away from unisex names. Having researched the above names my conclusion is as follows;

  • Ashley - Male - A tree seems masculine to me
  • Aubrey - Female - In my mind a rule of elves should be female
  • Avery - Male - The "av" sound is a strong sound so I lean toward the masculine
  • Bailey - Either - means a "officer/bailiff" which can be either gender
  • Dylan - Male - means "sea" which reminds me of Poseidon who is male
  • Jordan - Either - means "river" which is to me can be male or female
  • Morgan - Male - means "white sea dweller" takes me back to Poseidon
  • Rowan - Male - means "son of the red one" son means male
  • Taylor - Either - means "tailor" which can be either gender

I know female Ashley, Bailey, Dylan, Jordan, and Morgan's and they are all wonderful girls and women. I know male Dylan, Jordan and Taylor's and they are truly strong males.

Does the "First" rule apply?

Do you agree with what is "first" should be the rule?

See results

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