Uncommon gender neutral baby names you'll completely fall in love with

Gender neutral baby names are on the rise. The growth is part of a larger trend of defying traditional gender roles and stereotypes. Linda Murray, editor in chief of BabyCenter, explained the growing popularity of unisex names to the New York Times. "Today's parents have moved beyond the dichotomy of boy and girl names," she said. "They want their children to grow up and be themselves, free from stereotypes."

If you're still unsure whether a gender neutral baby name is right for your own little one, check out this roundup of some of the best names out there. These unique gender neutral names are sure to make you fall in love.

Presley

Once a last name most famously borne by Elvis Presley, the king of rock and roll, the name Presley can also be used as a given name. While it is more commonly used as a feminine name in recent times, data from the Social Security Administration reveals that Presley has been used as a male given name since at least the 19th century. Thanks to its association with Elvis, this gender neutral baby name is a good choice for lovers of rock and roll.

Rowan

In Norse mythology, it is thought that the first woman was made from a rowan tree. In spite of this feminine association, the name Rowan is used for both baby boys and baby girls. While it would be easy to think that the name comes from nature, Rowan's history as a given name is a little more complex. It comes from the Anglicized form of the last name Ó Ruadháin which can trace its roots back to a Gaelic nickname given to people who had red hair.

Emerson

Emerson is another given name that originated as a last name. An English name meaning "son of Emery," Emerson's roots go back to the German name Emmerich. Once primarily used a masculine name, Emerson started gaining traction as a feminine name in the early 2000s and is now officially a gender neutral name.

Ariel

Thanks to the 1989 film The Little Mermaid, many people may assume that Ariel, the name of the main character, is exclusively a girl's name, but that isn't true. Ariel was long considered a masculine name. The name is Hebrew for "lion of God" and can be found in the Old Testament of the Bible as an alternate name for Jerusalem. The name also has literary roots, appearing in Shakespeare's The Tempest.

Ashton

Thanks to the wild popularity of actor Ashton Kutcher, many people are familiar with this name but think that it can only be used for boys. While it's certainly more frequently used for baby boys, the moniker is actually gender neutral. Ashton was once a last name that meant "ash tree town," but today is a growingly popular given name that can be used whether you're having a boy or a girl.  

Charlie

While Charlie is often used as a nickname, it's also a given name in its own right. Its use as a gender neutral name dates back to at least 1880, based on name data from the Social Security Administration. If you prefer more formal variations of the name, Charlie can be used as an abbreviated form of names like Charlotte or Charles. If you really want to get creative, you could also consider the alternate spelling of Charley.

Finley

The name Finley has Irish and Scottish roots, and is an Anglicized version of the Gaelic name Fionnlagh. Fionnlagh is typically used as a masculine name, coming from the Gaelic words for "white" and "warrior," but its English variation can be used for both boys and girls. This is true only in the United States, though. In England and Wales, Finley is still considered to be a masculine name. 

Hayden

Once primarily a boy's name derived from an English last name, Hayden started gaining traction as a gender neutral name in the late 1990s. It comes from place names based on Old English words meaning either "hay valley" or "hay hill." The name is far more popular in Australia and Canada than it is in the United States, but in those countries, Hayden is only used for boys.

Zion

This Biblical name has long been considered a masculine one, but Americans are slowly starting to change that by giving it to girls as well. It still isn't very commonly used for girls, but is used frequently enough that it's safe to call Zion a gender neutral name. Zion is from a Hebrew name used to describe heaven, and is sometimes spelled as Tzion.

River

This modern name was only briefly popular as a single gender name. River started gaining traction as a male name in the mid 1990s. This may be in part thanks to bearers like actor River Phoenix who passed away in 1993 or the slight variation bestowed upon Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo. But by 2009, the name was gender neutral. While the name might sound thoroughly English, River actually comes from the Latin word "ripa" which means "riverbank."

Harley

Once a last name and then a masculine given name, Harley is now more popular for girls than it is for boys. This can likely be attributed to the wild popularity of comic book character Harley Quinn. She might not always be one of the good guys, but she's still popular enough to help influence the growth of Harley as a gender neutral name.

Rylan

The origins of the name Rylan are not completely certain. It is thought that the most likely origin for this unique name is the last name Ryland, which is derived from an Old English place name meaning "rye land." It only began emerging as a gender neutral name in 2009, making it both modern and uncommon.

Paris

Thanks in part to the socialite and reality TV star Paris Hilton, Paris has recently become more recognized as a feminine name, but its masculine roots make it more accurate to call this moniker gender neutral. In Greek mythology, Paris is remembered as a Trojan prince whose affair with the Spartan queen Helen led to the Trojan war.

While the mythological figure shares his name with the French capital, the city of Paris actually drew its name from an early group of people who lived in that area, the Parisii.

Ainsley

Ainsley is yet another gender neutral name that originated as a last name. It's thought that Ainsley comes from one of two English places: Annesley or Ansley. The first part of the name is derived from either the Old English word "anne" which means "alone"  or the word "ansetl" meaning "hermitage." The second part of the name comes from the word "leah" which means "woodland" or "clearing." 

While the name is almost solely feminine in the United States, its use as a masculine name in England and Wales makes it decidedly gender neutral.