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Quick, Boy or Girl?

Is Ashton a boy name or girl name?
- Jo

Jo, your question is the shortest The Name Lady has ever published. I’m answering it because it speaks volumes...not only what you asked, but what you took for granted and didn't ask. You’ve taken for granted that a name is either male or female.

Historically, that's been a pretty reasonable assumption. Look at a list of the classic English names, and you’ll have no problem lining them up and sending them off to separate locker rooms. “John, George, Edward this way. Mary, Anne, Margaret across the hall.” Today, though, you have to let go of that single-sex assumption, precisely because of names like Ashton.

Just 50 years ago, Ashton was a semi-familiar surname and place name, virtually unknown as a baby name. I’m guessing that’s part of what you like about it, and you’re in good company. Many parents today want fresh choices, not the same old Edwards and Margarets. By and large, in fact, the more classic a name is, the more it has plummeted out of style.

When you reject the style of the classics, though, you also give up the perks that come with tradition. Those perks can include clear spelling, pronunciation...and sex. In saying goodbye to Edward and Margaret, you’re leaving the world of certain “boy names” and “girl names” behind.

The land of contemporary names is a probabilistic terrain where names tilt one way, then the other. Today, more than nine out of ten baby Ashtons are male, thanks to the influence of actor Ashton Kutcher. You only have to go back to 1997, though, to find a time when girl Ashtons were in the majority on the model of Ashley. That time could yet come again.

A unisex style isn't necessarily a bad thing. Some studies suggest, for instance, that androgynous names give girls an advantage by sidestepping stereotypes. What they won't give you, though, is clarity. Feel free to give the fine name Ashton to either a daughter or a son. Just know that people who see the name are likely to make a guess at the sex -- and try to go easy on them when they guess wrong.


Please do not add links to your comments. Thank you.

February 27, 2012 12:23 PM
By Elle (not verified)

What I love about Ashton is that it's one of the few examples of a name sound that was recaptured successfully by the boys - Ashley is forever gone, but Ashton has such a nice, masculine, definitive sound. They did it! All the female Elliots and Noahs and everything - Ashton

However, give it another five ten years or something, and I'm sure we'll be seeing lots more of girl Ashtons - or Ashtonelles?

February 27, 2012 3:17 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

The only Ashton I know is 12 years old and female!

February 27, 2012 10:14 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

The ending of ton generally reads boy to me. But then there's Leighton Meester...oh, and I never understood how Peyton got picked up by girls.

February 27, 2012 10:42 PM
By mk (not verified)

The only time I ever hear the name Ashton is in reference to Ashton Kutcher, so it is male to me.

February 28, 2012 12:54 PM
By kleentx (not verified)

I immediately think of it as a boy's name. However, I know a little girl named Ashton, so.....

February 28, 2012 2:52 PM
By Laura Helen (not verified)

The only Ashtons I've ever known have been girls, so it seems like a girl name to me. It works fine on either gender though! :)

February 28, 2012 3:06 PM
By zoerhenne (not verified)

I like Ashton for a boy but the spelling of Ashtyn for a girl.

February 28, 2012 3:27 PM
By Corhea (not verified)

When I hear it I think BOY but that's because the only Ashton I know of is Kutcher. I like it for boys or girls though.
I'm a girl Corri but when I hear my name for someone else --even though I'm a girl & I know tons of other girl Cori/Kory/Corrie's-- I still usually assume its a guy until confirmed otherwise. IMO it doesn't make it any less of a nice name for either sex though. It just means more correcting peoples assumptions (and spelling!).

February 28, 2012 3:29 PM
By Julie (not verified)

My cousin has a son named Ashton, so in my personal life it's male. However, since the first time I heard Ashton used as a given name was vain little sister in the the mini-series "The North and The South"... I still think of it as a girl's name.

February 29, 2012 8:17 AM
By Hazel - South Africa (not verified)

I had a teacher once who named her daughter Ashton - and it was way back in the 90's interestingly enough - after the town where she was conceived, so I beleive the name would have been used regardles of the baby being a boy or girl. I agree with the -ton (from 'town', yes?) having a more masculine sound, so I would personally assume boy first.

February 29, 2012 9:10 AM
By Em's Mom (not verified)

I would guess an Ashton to be male. The "ton" at the end reads boy to me, but that's just my own thinking.

My daughter is named Emery. Only a few people have assumed boy, but when you go with a unisex name, I think you need to be prepared for that and not be upset. So I would give the same advice to anyone considering Ashton.

February 29, 2012 7:10 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

This is what we are currently struggling with... We are expecting a little girl in June. Our top two names are Molly (screams little girl) or Bryce (not so clear). But the name lady is right, if we go with Bryce, we can't be offended if people see her name and think boy!

March 3, 2012 10:51 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

My grandfather (in his 80s) is named Ashton. I'm not sure what his personal name history was, but I didn't hear of another Ashton until Ashton Kutcher came on the scene. It would be interesting to look back a little further historically to see how it was used.

March 19, 2012 9:02 AM
By Rebekah W. (not verified)

We had the same question for Afton--I had never heard it for a boy until my family assumed the name was masculine. I am struggling with the question whether I want that confusion for my girl, but I probably will, because I love the name. Even some classic names are unisex (try Jamie, or as mentioned Ashley. I know a male Kelly) It's all in your preference.

April 30, 2012 11:33 PM
By Lili (not verified)

I think boy when I hear Ashton. I know a little boy who is Ashdon, Don being his grandfather.

I can't say I like Afton for a boy or girl, but it does sound masculine IMO

July 29, 2012 10:27 PM
By It's Short for Joey (not verified)

As a girl with a uniquely male name, Joey, I see the name Ashton can go wither way. Might I suggest Ashten is a bit more feminine.

May 28, 2013 1:45 AM
By hermes lindy bag (not verified)

Good job. Nice post.

July 25, 2014 3:21 PM
By (not verified)

Wo kann іch hier meine Bedenken oder Suggestionen publik machen?

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