Reader Q & A: Is Elliot Going To The Girls? Part 1 of 2

elliot-graphI love when readers give me ideas for UBN.

Recently Jennifer reached out to me with a concern that the name she is considering for a possible son is gaining popularity on girls.

Will Elliot (or Elliott) Become The Next Ashley?

I did do a post on the subject of gender crossover names that looked back in time: Whoa! These Were Once Boy Names! 

But I haven’t done a forward-looking post on gender-crossover names yet. Watch my take on the subject*:

Readers: What do you think? Will Elliot/Elliott go to the girls?

Update: Part 2 is now available here.

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* This was originally going to be a standard written post until I was nearly finished writing and creating graphs and saw all the graphs and decided this was another opportunity for a video post. See my first one here

Because I didn’t want to wait until Rob could tape me during daylight hours to get this out to you guys (the lighting in our house at night is hardly ideal for video), I experimented with my webcam. I think for the next one, I’m going to ask Rob to tape me because he did a great job.


  1. Great video! I think Elliott will take the path like Cameron or Ryan did – there are a non-insignificant number of girls being given the name, but the name remains predominately on the boy’s side. Regardless, I encourage anyone who likes Elliott or any other name being used both ways for a boy to use it as such – don’t become part of the problem!

    With your comparison with Aubrey, I’d like to point out a difference – Elliott is like Avery or Rowan for example, which are in style for both genders and rising concurrently on both sides. Aubrey was more like Leslie or Sydney – the name’s peak for boys happened in an earlier generation and was on the decline for boys when becoming more stylish for girls. (I’ve said elsewhere this could work in favor for names like Dana or Kelly to edge maybe ever-so-slightly back to the boys since they’re now in fashion limbo for girls but could sound cool on a boy again to some more daring and style-setting parents.)

    As for your examples of Jason and Michael, while there are probably an extremely small number of females out there with those names, I think their ranking on boys is more due to the phenomenon of SSA gender-coding errors being more prevalent in pre-computer days. (You’ll see that lots of the top-ranking names for both genders of the time appearing in the “wrong” Top 1,000 – that’s because they have enough errors accumulated to do that.) Since about 1990 or so such errors are less common (presumably with computers making them less likely), but you do still see a small (but not enough to crack the Top 1,000) number of for example boys named Sophia and girls named Jacob.

    • Error in the last paragraph: Should be “I think their ranking on GIRLS is more due to…” instead.

    • You raise a good point about SSA errors, and in certain cases, that may inflate the number of girl births for masculine names. Unfortunately I’m not sure how to account for them.

      Rowan is a good example of another name like Avery that is going up in popularity with both genders.

  2. Jennifer R. says:

    Hi Angela! I can’t thank you enough for doing this video and being so thorough. At the end of the day, Elliott is the only name that feels like our son and so Elliott he will be! I am still interested in where this name is headed.

    I never saw the connection between Elliott, Charlotte, and Scarlet but I see how those names being popular may trick the ears into hearing Elliott as feminine. Although it makes ne wonder why not Emmett, Robert, or Garrett. The majority of other names that have gone girl seem to be end in y/ie like Ashley, Aubrey, Avery, Leslie, etc. which I understand in their similarity to endless lists of girls names.

    Thank you again and I can’t wait to watch part 2!

    • You’re welcome Jennifer. And you make a good point about Emmett, Robert, and Garrett. There’s also Wyatt, and I can’t possibly picture that name going girl. That name is as masculine as it gets, IMO. Can’t wait to unveil part 2!

  3. Love the video! I think the comparison to Aubrey is very apt and a bit disconcerting for the letter writer because Aubrey and Elliott both have sound elements that are huge for girls now–the Bree sound and the Ellie sound. I also think that, when combined, alternate spellings on girls could make a bigger difference in overall perception of the name. I know a preschool aged Elliette, who goes exclusively by Ellie. If the LW can wait on making a final decision until after the 2013 SSA data comes out in May, that will give a better picture of the overall trajectory of Elliott and all alternate spellings.

    • Thanks Katybug. You raise a good point about the combined spelling, something I was going to touch upon again in part 2. There may be other male qualities to counter-act the combined spelling though. I don’t want to give too much away.

  4. Such an interesting and concerning topic! When is part 2?

  5. Great post! I was also worried about this, but happy to have a little boy named Elliott!

  6. My husband’s grandmother born in 1887 was named Elliott Odessa. Now my daughter is planning on naming her baby girl Elliott also. Glad to hear it’s becoming more popular.

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