Unisex Names: Sasha


A unisex name that has originated from the eastern side of Europe. It’s Sasha.


Sasha had its roots in Russia and Ukraine, where it is used as a diminutive of A/Oleksandr and his feminine form, A/Oleksandra¹.
Alexander, where they ultimately originated from, is derived from Greek αλεξω (alexo) meaning “to defend, help” and ανδρος (andros), the genitive form of ανηρ (aner) meaning “man,” thus giving the meaning of this name as “defending men.”¹


Usage of Sasha as a given name in the English-speaking world was rare before the mid 1960s.
In the United States, it first appeared on the SSA list for girls in 1956 (for boys, it first appeared in 1964), but it received a jump for girls in 1967 – it was given to 27 girls compared to just 9 the previous year². 1971 was the year Sasha was given to more than 100 girls for the first time and, for the next 15 years, it gradually increased overall, but it jumped again in 1986 when it was given to 1,158 girls, compared to 599 the previous year².
By that time, Sasha was an almost exclusively female name, as can be seen on this chart below²:


Since 2009, the last year in which it was given to more than 1,000 girls, Sasha gradually fell down in popularity and, in 2015, it was given to 572 girls, a slight rise from 540 back in 2014².

To England & Wales now and analysis using the Birth Registration Index shows that Sasha already became an almost exclusively female name by the mid-late 1960s³ – compare that to the US where it didn’t reach the 90% mark until 1973². Using data from ONS, although the number of English and Welsh female Sashas are less than American female Sashas in 1996 (333 in E&W⁴ compared to 699 in the US²), the rankings say otherwise and, owing to differences in population numbers, they are a more accurate comparison. So, the story here is, by 1996, Sasha was more often used in E&W than in the US (136th place in E&W⁴ compared to 381st place in the US²).

The chart below shows that the percentage of female Sashas is on a general downward path, but from the ONS data, it’s more because the actual female numbers are falling while the male numbers are relatively stable from year to year⁴.


What do you think of Sasha? Do you prefer it for a girl or a boy? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below the sources.

Behind the Name¹ on:

Social Security Administration – http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/babynames/index.html²
England and Wales Birth Registration Index on FamilySearch – https://familysearch.org/search/collection/2285338³
Office for National Statistics – http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/vsob1/baby-names–england-and-wales/index.html⁴

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