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Is This Name Off-Limits for Boys?

We are thinking about naming our son Reece Christian, but we're being told the name Reese is solidly thought of as a girl's name now. Is this the case?
- Reece Fan

The name Reece is certainly heard on girls today, so I can understand why some people would think that makes it "a girl's name." In past generations, androgyny was the touch of death for boys' names. As soon as a name started to tip toward the girls' side, parents of boys would abandon it.

Today, though, the world of unisex names is a lot more fluid. Popular name styles often rise up the boys' and girls' popularity charts simultaneously and there's no predicting whether they will tip male or female, or stay in even balance. What's more, a modern name's gender identity can be a game of inches -- or rather, letters.

A young Jalen today is most likely a boy; a young Jaelyn, pronounced the same, is most likely a girl. A Ryliegh is predictably female, while a Riley could be either sex. And despite what your friends tell you, most young Reeces are boys...but thanks to actress Reese Witherspoon, most young Reeses are girls. The feminine-leaning Reese is the more common spelling.

Does that make Reece/Reese "a girl's name"? I wouldn't say so. If you hear the name, you really can't make a guess at the individual's sex. The sound and style remain androgynous, and close to trendy boys' names like Chase and Bryce.

If it's that sound that attracts you rather than the written look of the name, you may be in luck. There's a secret weapon available: the Welsh original Rhys, which remains a reliably masculine classic.


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November 12, 2012 9:56 AM
By Kelly (not verified)

Since you're spelling it Reece I think you're fine! (Even with the Reese spelling I wouldn't rule it out.) The hype about boys with unisex names having all kinds of problems is exaggerated IMO (coming from a guy with such a name himself!). Of course you may have the same issues with people unsure of the bearer's gender that boy's names on girls create, but nothing too terrible IMO.

November 12, 2012 10:36 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

My brother in law is Reese, nickname for Maurice.

November 12, 2012 12:42 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Go with Rhys. The other two, Reese and Reece, sound like the sort of nonsense names people give girls to be "cute". Rhys is a more solid, serious name.

November 12, 2012 2:19 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Both Reese and Reece are surnames. So this is just another surname as first name to me, and is unisex.

Unisex names have been used for years, and I agree with Kelly. It's not the big deal people sometimes make it out to be.

November 12, 2012 5:26 PM
By Juli (not verified)

I disagree that Reese and Reece are surnames-as-given names and therefore unisex. They're English spellings of Welsh Rhys, which is a masculine name.

Would you consider Austin or Lewis to be unisex? They're used as surnames.

November 12, 2012 7:12 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

It sounds masculine to me - I mean, I thought Reese Witherspoon had a man's name? Like Drew Barrymore and Cameron Diaz.

I don't think people are as hung up on the whole girl name vs boy name thing any more.

Anyway, if you were worried, just spell it Rhys.

November 12, 2012 9:42 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

If you want it recognized as male only, go with Rhys. If you don't care, stay with Reece. I personally think it doesn't matter and you should use the spelling you prefer.

Reese Witherspoon's full name is actually Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon (Reese is her mother's maiden name).

November 12, 2012 11:32 PM
By Kayt (not verified)

I think it's perfectly unisex. I prefer Rhys for a boy, personally. I think it looks more masculine than Reese or Reece.

November 13, 2012 2:41 PM
By Michelle (not verified)

For me, the fact that I still think of it as a surname-turned-given-name still keeps it usable for both. I would not bat an eye at a boy or girl names Reece/Reese.

November 14, 2012 2:36 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

My niece is Reese, and my sister and brother in law are not AT ALL the kind of people that give their children "nonsense names". For them, it had family connections. Rhys is no more "solid" than Reece or Reese. It's a great name, regardless of spelling. :)

November 14, 2012 4:43 PM
By Julie (not verified)

There are two children named Reese at my daughter's preschool... both are boys.

November 15, 2012 4:26 PM
By KF (not verified)

I associate the name Reese with one of the brothers on Malcolm in the Middle, so to me it's completely male, despite the fact that I know a little girl with that middle name.

November 21, 2012 12:51 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I was going to suggest, as the Name Lady did at the end, to use the Welsh spelling Rhys if you're really that worried about it. It's on my name list, and we don't have any Welsh heritage, just a love of the country.

November 21, 2012 12:52 PM
By NotActuallySerious (not verified)

Girls are stealing all of our names!

November 21, 2012 12:59 PM
By Chaaron (not verified)

I'm married to a Reese who does curse Reese Witherspoon every time he receives a call asking to talk to Miss Reese. I think that Reese is stuck firmly in the unisex camp with Rece Davis on ESPN and Reese Hoffa (the Olympic Shotputter) wearing the name just as well as Ms. Witherspoon.

November 21, 2012 1:33 PM
By Pamela S (not verified)

For what it's worth, I think Reece is definitely a boys' name, and the Witherspoons gave their daughter a boys' name. But if you worry about him getting teased, then go ahead and use Rhys. It'll mean having to color in one less bubble on those computerized test answer sheets anyway, and less wear and tear on all those innocent and overworked number 2 pencils.

November 21, 2012 1:47 PM
By LJ (not verified)

I really do think of Reese/Reece as a surname turned first name. Also, I think of it as solidly unisex. I don't mean to offend anyone, but as for the Welsh name, I'd avoid it unless you have a strong Welsh connection or really just love it. Until this post I'd never heard of it and would've pronounced it "Rice" had I just read it on a class list. But I guess that just shows I'm less culturally aware than I thought.

November 21, 2012 3:41 PM
By Teddy O' Malley (not verified)

I think it's a beautiful name for either gender. Whenever I picture a Reese they are either beautiful or handsome. When I was a kid my best friend told me her baby sister would be named Reese and I said, "Reese's Pieces?" Her response was, "That's what I said!"

I love the spelling Rhys for a boy.

November 21, 2012 4:13 PM
By Tanya (not verified)

Only reec/ses I've known were boys... 1 a first name, another a last. classmates. I'm 29 for age reference.

November 21, 2012 6:46 PM
By tiktok (not verified)

I feel that Reece is quite masculine and you should have no concerns about using it. To the Anony-mouse who called Reese and Reece "nonsense names", don't know what you're talking about, as both Reese and Reece have long histories as surnames. Jerzibella is a nonsense name. Amberelle is a nonsense name. Galadriel is a nonsense name. Reece is not. Please note the distinction.

November 21, 2012 7:58 PM
By lilenid (not verified)

My cousin's name is Rhys, the traditional Welsh spelling of the name. I think it's masculine and a great name.

November 21, 2012 10:43 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

One of Malcolm's brothers on Malcolm in the Middle was named Reece. Not that a lot of people remember the show, but it's something else to point to :)

November 22, 2012 1:36 AM
By Call me "D" (not verified)

tiktok - love your comment about nonsense names and you've totally got it covered - I agree with you about such nonsense names and don't see why people think they have to come up with something so different and then get all upset when they're called on it.

We named our daughter a particular name, spelled a particular way and got asked if she was named after a famous singer - whose name by the way is not spelled the same as our daughters...Hello, do you even pay attention to how a name is spelled or are you only partially listening?!

Our daughter is actually named after a favored uncle and shares my mother-in-law's middle name. We made sure no one else in the family had/has used her middle name - we got lucky.

Anyway, if one wants to go beyond the scope of what's considered 'normal' I believe it is best to be armed with both knowledge of the name (i.e., it's meaning) and perhaps have an adorable cover story to explain the uniqueness (like we do) and make sure it explains why it is distinct, different, diverse, and totally acceptable as is, either for a boy or a girl.


November 22, 2012 4:28 AM
By Alison in CHS (not verified)

Personally, I think it's a big mistake choosing a girls name for a boy or an androgynous name for a child. It's confusing for people and it saddles the child for life.

November 24, 2012 2:05 PM
By Jenny (not verified)

One of my friends just had a baby boy a few months ago and his name is Reece. I never even thought of it as being too girly. Also she gets compliments on it all the time :) If you like go with it!

November 26, 2012 6:06 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Pamela S: the Witherspoons gave their daughter the mother's maiden name as a second middle name. It is not her first name. Lots of people have their mother's maiden name as their middle name.

Call me "D": I've been asked before if I was named after a certain actress, despite actually being a year older than her! People just don't pay attention.

November 27, 2012 8:14 AM
By Boys Name (not verified)

Yeah, Reece can be taken as a boy name. Though many girls have been named Reece, but still it does have some boyish sound. There are many names which you can see fit for both genders, like Ellery for an example.

November 27, 2012 2:14 PM
By SMA (not verified)

I know two "Dylan Reece" children, one is a boy and one is a girl.

November 30, 2012 8:05 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Ha ha, I'm 37 years old and Galadriel is my middle name! I actually went to high school with a few others with Tolkien-inspired names. It was a trend in the mid 1970s. Nonsense or not, I get a lot of compliments.

December 20, 2012 2:42 PM
By Mandy (not verified)

I've always thought of Reece as a boy's name actually. I LOVE the Rhys spelling - very masculine.

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