Saturday, January 30, 2016

Unisex Names




Kelly from Harbor Springs asked for a word denoting a name that can be used both for boys and for girls, citing his own name as an example. Existing examples include Avery Brooks and Avery Winter; Bailey Chase and Bailey Hanks; Cameron Monaghan and Cameron Diaz; Cody Hodgson and Cody Kennedy; Drew Brees and Drew Barrymore; Kelly Hansen and Kelly McGillis; Morgan Freeman and Morgan Fairchild.

Various sources call them unisex names, epicene names, gender-neutral names, or androgynous names. Unisex and gender-neutral are obvious to everyone, so let’s take a quick look at the other two.

Androgynous combines two Greek roots-- aνδρο- male + γυνή- female. Originally, it meant someone exhibiting both male and female characteristics, so it is used here in a less physical sense.


Epicene comes from the Greek eπί  close + κοινός common, amounting to denoting neither sex. Grammatically, sheep would be the common term, while ewe and ram would highlight gender distinctions.

Listen to Mike’s program in real time every Tuesday morning, 9:10 - 10:00 a.m. EST, by going to wtcmradio.com and clicking on Listen Now. You’ll also find about a month’s worth of podcasts there under The Ron Jolly Show.




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